Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Editing On My Mind or What You Can Do To Make It In This Business

It's been a crazy week. Line edits due on Friday for a Valentine's Day Anthology I'm part of (WHO NEEDS CUPID? - It's gonna be cute). Final galley read for the November Superromance (HIS BEST FRIEND'S BABY - oh! We'll talk about titles another day) also due on Friday. And last, but not at all least, the big, meaty, juicy edits of a single title that I've been spending the last week on - due beginning of August.

Obviously - I've been thinking a lot about editing. Like Maureen I really love it. It is a jigsaw puzzle and I think that through editing I really get to know my characters and make my conflict and plot work together to make the best possible story. But there's nothing I can add to Maureen's post - she said it all. I read those books and every writer should.

But once you are done with your edits - polished it up as well as your perspective will allow - I hope you are lucky enough to have a great group of writer friends or even better an editor who will push you to try HARDER. To get the story in your head to match up with the story on the page. And in an effort to get you to try HARDER they are going to tear your heart out and throw it on the floor and criticize it's pacing and dialogue and black moment. And how you handle that has a lot to do with finding success in this career.

I think there are three things you need to do to make it or get ahead in this business (besides be lucky...that's a big big part of it).

1. Write. Write. Write.
2. Study your craft and make every effort to get better.

If I had a nickel for every new writer I've over heard say that they wouldn't change their book. Or WORSE for every time I've heard a writer argue with the feedback in a rejection letter or a contest score sheet or a critique session - I'd be a rich rich gal. It's hard to take criticism. Some days really really hard - and you can let your self have those days. But most of the time you have to take that stuff on the chin and work with it. If you don't want to publish -- fine. You can write whatever you like. But if you harbor dreams of holding your book in your hand than you had better get used to swallowing your arguments and listening to the criticism.

After all Editorial feedback is criticism.

My first Harlequin - I had no rewrites. My second and third were so extensively rewritten they were hardly the same books. Fourth not so bad. My fifth had rewrites SO big and terrible that my book got pulled from the editorial calendar. ONE SCENE remained that I originally wrote. I hated it - I felt stupid and embarrassed. I thought my editor was wrong. But I did them and that book just won the Romantic Times Best Flipside of 2005. I learned a lot in that process and my editor (Wanda Ottewell - fantastic editor!!) talks about it every time we see each other.

Taking criticism and making the edits to create a better book - is hard. But we all have to do it. And if you're not doing it - and not getting requests for fulls, or partials, or at least slightly detailed rejection letters - your inability to take criticism is probably at the root of it.

I'll see you at the booth in the corner!!!


Anonymous said...


Maureen McGowan said...

Molly, you rock! Of course, I'm at Nationals and a little bit drunk. Fitting for this blog.

But seriously, learning to take criticism--especially the stuff that stabs you in the heart and goes against everything you thought you loved about a book--is what this business is all about.

PS. I met a fan of yours today!
Her YA book comes out Aug 1. Jennifer Echols. http://www.jennifer-echols.com/

Marcail said...

So true. Accepting criticism is one of those count to ten and breathe moments. I need to take a while to digest the advice. After the initial deflation, I can see the potential for improvement.

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