My husband has been burning the midnight oil of late, putting finishing touches on computer code for a client. He is working with 20,000 lines of Visual Basic hieroglyphics, so finding one little discrepancy is challenging. He compares it to the Whac-A-Mole games popular several decades ago. Fix one problem by hitting one smiley rodent on the noggin to have another, or maybe two, pop up grinning from another burrow. Sounds a lot like editing.
The revision process started for me while attending my Revising the Novel class in 2009. Then it moved on to my critique group, six fresh-faced writers, gathering weekly to review one another’s pages. That effort generated five revision passes. The next step was my group of six beta readers, and round number six of changes. Then a published author waded in for the seventh scalping and, here I am today, waiting for an evaluation to return from a real life, work-for-pay, editor somewhere out in the misty cloud environment of the internet.
I decided this final pass needed someone employed as a professional editor because some persistent questions remain unanswered. They were things researched during the writing process but still mystifying. When I open my manilla folder labelled “General Writing Info” I find hard copies of various Google searches for such topics as “When to use – and not to use – quotation marks”; another author explaining the difference between italicizing vs. underlining; many pointers gleaned from “A Guide to Narrative Craft” concerning exposition, flashbacks, verisimilitude (???). It’s a lengthy list of “no-nos.” And – many of these experts didn’t agree with one another.
Off to the working editor to resolve these concerns. I realize editing is a special skill – one that I don’t do well. It was challenging to wade through the first seven versions, stifling my stubbornness and humbly accepting about 95% of the suggestions offered. I decided an amateurish editing job will result in a story that is difficult to plow through, making it unbelievable and vulnerable to rejection by the publishing gatekeepers. Also, having read these words so many times that I know them by rote memory, makes me less objective. I know what I want to say. But to fresh eyes, will it make sense? And a professional should spot not only grammatical errors but also overwriting (one of my bad habits), character inconsistencies, and illogical plot turns. Hopefully this pro will polish my words without losing my voice. The plot thickens.