Editing-Putting Together the Puzzle

I love to edit. I love it so much that you would be right to ask why I am not an English teacher.  That is another question for another time. But deep editing a manuscript is like putting together the pieces of a puzzle to make the whole, beautiful picture. Any misplaced comma or misspelled word distorts that piece so it doesn’t fit in its place and the picture is unfinished.

Right now I am editing my manuscript, The People of the Green Hills, for the 8th time (yes, I did say eighth).  I am doing this because next weekend, at the GRW “Moonlight and Magnolias” conference, I will be pitching this story to editors from two publishing companies. Again.

I have pitched POGH every year for the last 5 or so since I finished it. In that time I have published two books, one self-published and one with Gilded Dragonfly Books. This is not really a good story for GDB, however, so I am presenting it to two other publishers to see if I can generate some interest.

Obviously there is no point in showing them the exact same manuscript that has been rejected so many times before. This edition represents a very serious revision based on comments from good friends who have given honest feedback on its strengths and weaknesses. I have cut out the “Prologue,” for example, and I am trying to work that back story into the main body of the text through carefully placed exposition.

What I have also discovered, thanks to the editors at GDB, is that I can definitely tighten up my prose. I often take more words than are necessary to say things, which is no surprise to anyone who knows me. Jackie Rod, one of the editors of a short story I contributed to an anthology, was adamant about cutting out “was” and “were,” and using the stronger verb without them. For example, instead of writing “began to pull” or “was pulling” use “pulled.” She is right. It is much stronger and tighter that way. I also use the Search to find every place I use “just” and “really,” which I tend to use in great profusion. I have noticed a new one is “that.” I use it way too often when I don’t need it.

Time to get to work. People of the Green Hills awaits.

By the way, I think I need another title. This one is not quite exciting enough. Hmmm…

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