Long time no post! I’m back and I’ve got exciting news. Since I last posted I have got older and flicked over into a new age bracket. For my birthday, my lovely friends and family gave me enough cash so I could afford to get Conspire professionally edited. Some might say this is a bit of a boring birthday present, and those some would be very wrong. It has been so exciting sending my manuscript off to be fixed! And fixed it has been!
The editor I chose is based in England and is called Bubble Cow. I saw this editor being recommended by some other writers on Twitter, and also noticed that they give a lot of free advice to writers on their blog.
Included in the editing package was an assessment of the plot, characters and style. I was pleased to see that the editor didn’t pick up many problems in the grammar, layout and choice of words. There were also only a few typos, which was a relief since I’ve read the manuscript four times already! But what Bubble Cow, specifically Gary, was able to do was show me how to get my manuscript, in his words – from 90% there to 100%. I’m pleased he thought it was already 90% there and I’m even more pleased that the changes he has suggested, although usually quite minor, have had a major impact on how polished the manuscript is.
As an example of the changes he suggested – he removed a lot of exclamation marks. Readers of this blog will know I’m quite fond of my exclamation marks. But they are a bit childish in a real book. I have also come to realize that they break a rule that I seem to break a lot and Gary has pointed out to me how to improve this situation – the old chestnut of telling not showing. You shouldn’t have to use an exclamation mark at the end of the dialogue, as the words the character is using should SHOW the reader that the character is exasperated, excited, surprised or any other emotion worthy of emphasis.
He’s also removed a lot of the internal dialogue of my protagonist, Alex, for the same reason – her thoughts and conclusions and summaries were often evidence of the narrator (me) TELLING the reader what Alex was thinking, rather than showing it through her actions and dialogue.
I had a few paragraphs were the narrator explained to the reader what had happened in the back story in an attempt to add context to a situation. But Gary showed me where this back-story could be ‘SHOWN’ rather than ‘TOLD’ through dialogue or action. When he points out these sections to me, it seems totally obvious that I’d broken the showing/telling rule. But it’s often not until a third party shows you where you’ve gone wrong that you really understand.
All in all I’m thrilled with the feedback and after spending today taking it in and revising, I feel I’m closer to being able to present readers with a really good book.
Thank you to readers of this blog who contributed to my present. It was a useful exercise and an educating experience.