Zippity-doo-dah! I’ve just completed Round Two of my edits for MADhattan Mystery and I owe myself a ridiculously decadent reward. Let’s see…there’s this $1,000 chocolate sundae topped with edible gold at a restaurant called Serendipity. But, no. I have to pay the rent.
Anyway, now that I have a minute to blog again, I thought I’d compare and share the two different approaches I took to my first two rounds of edits. The first I had several months to deliver; the second—just two weeks. Let’s visualize…
ROUND ONE (THE LUXURY ROUND):
* The editorial letter arrives along with my annotated manuscript. I’m excited, exhilarated, and completely overwhelmed. I read the letter at least three times in a row and let it all wash over me without indulging in my immediate reactions. These can run the gamut from “Wow, what a brilliant idea!” to “You’ve got to be freakin’ kidding?” (Warning: initial reactions can be completely misleading.)
* With all this new info marinating my brain, I go to Staples and buy an assortment of colorful sticky tabs, extra-long rubber bands for securing loose manuscripts, and a funky little composition notebook. (Warning: totally unnecessary stuff like paperclips in the shape of treble clefs should probably be avoided while in this overenthusiastic state.)
* I read through my entire manuscript, identifying every page that has a handwritten remark from my editor with a pink sticky tab; and pages where I have new ideas or solutions with a blue sticky tab. I make corresponding notes in my notebook for easy referral and record all my ideas, no matter how wacky—I know they can turn out to be valuable later on. (Warning: Every “Ha!” from your editor will elicit a twinge of joy; every “Too abrupt” will bring a pang of deep disappointment.)
* I re-read the editorial letter for about the tenth time.
* I’m thinking it’d make sense to tackle all the small changes first, and then move onto the weightier stuff. But then again, if I end up cutting an entire section filled with the small changes, I’ve wasted a bunch of time. It’s a toss up. I ultimately decide on big stuff first.
* I re-read the editorial letter for the umpteenth time. (Warning: Even if a particular suggestion still seems questionable, give it a shot anyway and try to make it work. Amazing things can happen. Trust your gut—but trust your editor, too.)
* I start from the beginning of the novel and implement all the changes into the electronic version on my computer. As I’m working, new insights pop into my head, spunkier dialogue, etc. Little gifts! Some can immediately be added; others need more contemplating, so I’m constantly keeping notes.
* When I think I’ve got it in tip-top shape, I print out the entire manuscript. Yep, things really DO look different on actual paper than on a computer screen. Then I do a final read-through to see if all the changes I’ve made work as a whole; if they’re integrated smoothly—not lumpy and bumpy. I have my notebook handy and more sticky tabs just in case, but what I’m really striving for at this point is real-time reading speed. It should all play out like a movie. (Warning: You WILL stop a zillion times anyway and find a zillion more mistakes.)
* I make the final-final changes and send the revised novel off to my editor wondering, “Why the heck is it ten pages longer after I’d trimmed so much?” (Warning: You will immediately think of at least FIVE new ideas as soon as you press “send”. Write them all down in your funky little notebook for the next round of edits.)
ROUND TWO (THE SPEED ROUND):
* All of the above but with a few minor changes. I skip the trip to Staples. Instead of taking handwritten notes in a notebook, I type them into my computer instead. Much faster. This time I tackle the small stuff first, ’cause there are less major adjustments. And instead of printing out the entire manuscript, I do the final read-through on the computer screen, making changes as I go along.
* While waiting for the next round of edits, I dream of ridiculous things like $1,000 sundaes…and wonder what I’m going to do with all these treble-clef-shaped paperclips.