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Monday, October 17, 2016

The Hidden Heroes of a Good Novel

By Pamela S. Meyers. 

Years ago, fresh from a course on novel writing, I headed off to the Write to Publish conference, with a proposal for my debut novel. My instructor had assured me that my story was publishable, and I envisioned editors battling one another for my manuscript. I thought I was on my way.

At my first appointment, the editor read chapter one while I sat waiting. Then she looked me in the eyes and said, “The storyline is good, but this isn’t ready yet. You started it at the wrong place.”

That evening, I did a surgical strike on chapter one and made chapter two the first chapter. With a little tweaking, it was ready to wow the editor at my next appointment. Except she wasn’t wowed, and I heard again that I started the story too early. I performed another surgical strike later and made the original chapter three chapter one.

At my third and last appointment, the editor didn’t bother reading anything and asked me to pitch the story. She then invited me to send her the proposal. I left the conference that day, feeling really good about my story and myself. Little did I know that it takes more than just lopping off early chapters to make a story good. Six months later I received a form-letter rejection in the mail. It still wasn’t ready.

When I finally was contracted years later, I quickly learned you'll find yourself working with an editor who sometimes wants to make some drastic changes to the story. That could be very unsettling to a new author. You’ve poured your heart and soul into the story and now you’re being asked to pull scenes, rewrite other scenes and do whatever the editor feels will make the story stronger.

The first time this happened, I remembered those early days when I had started my story too early and realized that was my training for the real deal of working with an editor and, like back then, I had to be teachable and flexible. There have been a few times when I’ve stood my ground and insisted on keeping something the way it is, but about ninety-five percent of the time I always agree and do whatever is suggested without regret.

Editors have a thankless job of working behind the scenes and letting the author take all the credit for a well-written story. When I write the acknowledgement page at the end of my stories, I always write my thanks and appreciation to my editors, because they are the ones who do the “magic” that makes my readers want to keep turning the pages until they reach the end.

Before I became an author I often skipped reading the acknowledgement page, but I don’t anymore. As a reader, do you read the acknowledgement page?


The Hidden Heros of a Good Novel by Pamela S. Meyer (Click to Tweet) 

Editors have a thankless job of working behind the scenes and letting the author take credit. (Click to Tweet)

A native of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, author Pamela S. Meyers lives in suburban Chicago with her two rescue cats. Her novels include Thyme for Love and her 1933 historical romance, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Love is All We Need (the sequel to Thyme for Love) will release soon, and Second Chance Love from Bling!, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, will release in January 2017. When she isn’t at her laptop writing her latest novel, she can often be found nosing around Wisconsin and other Midwestern spots for new story ideas.


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