April 20, 2009

Thank you, Editorial Anonymous!

Even as I've been working on rewrites and edits on Succession, I've had this nagging feeling something was still off with the manuscript, but I couldn't name the problem. So, when Editorial Anonymous offered a first pages clinic over on her new blog, The Anonymati, I decided to submit the first page for a professional opinion.

Am I ever glad I did!

The problem was obvious. It's a problem I know I have, and I've been working to correct the habit for a couple years now. However, Succession is a piece I've always been incredibly close to, and I suppose I was too close to see the problem. Now I know what to fix, and soon this book's journey will come to an end for better or worse.

What was the problem? I was overwriting. Even with all the cuts I've done in the last months, there were still too many extraneous details, awkwardly wordy phrases, cliches, and word choices that had her thinking of a romance novel.

As a writer, especially a writer of fantasy or science fiction, the details are so clear to us and such a part of the story the temptation to cram them all in is a strong one. After spending so long building a world, it's difficult to leave some details to the reader. It feel like leaving something you love, something important completely up to chance. I suppose you could compare the feeling to sending your child off to their first day of kindergarten without teaching them how to share. There's a sense something is going to go horribly wrong.

Yet, unlike sending a child without a knowledge of sharing into a large group of other children, leaving the unnecessary details to the reader actually helps the manuscript. Filling in those bits empowers the reader and prevents the story from being lost in its own trimming.

So, I'm off to the editing room again. It's time I had a talk with my inner editor. Seems she's been too merciful with the striking pen. This won't do.

Thank you again, Editorial Anonymous, for helping me see what I've been missing these past six months or so.

For the full post on Succession's first page, click here.

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