I was smugly satisfied that my book was done. But was it?
There were nuances in my writing that my beta readers had pointed out; words in my dialogue such as ‘well’ at the beginning of a sentence was one example. I knew I needed help with punctuation – who doesn’t?
I read a lot about editing – copy editing, line editing, developmental editing – these terms were all confusing to me. I’d also heard that a writer should be their own editor. That an editor can change and interfere with the integrity of your story. Ok then, all I needed to do was critically edit my own work and organised for someone to proof read – surely that was enough.
Then I met a lovely lady called Meredith who asked to read my book. Luckily for me she’d been an editor in the past. She gently set me straight and pointed out ways to cut my wordy sentences. Did I really need a whole page to describe something which I’d said earlier in one line? Had I really developed the characters enough? Male dialogue sometimes sounded girly in parts; there were too many adverbs. She opened my eyes to things that only someone with such expertise can do. She could see things that I couldn’t and under her expert guidance I revised and revised. I realised then that I had needed that valuable advice and that my book was far from finished.
After the rewrites I found another lovely lady, Annie, who did a final edit. Like Meredith, she too gave me advice and feedback which all served to make my book the best that it could be.
When I look back at my first drafts, I just can’t imagine what I must have been thinking. If I’d released my book on the world in that state, I would have regretted it.
Writing is a journey especially for someone who is new to it. Increased skill will only come from practice,great feedback, more practice and more feedback. I don’t think I’ve nailed it and maybe I never will, but I’m motivated to continue on the scary path to improvement with many amazing people helping me along the way. I’m in awe of all the incredible editors out there and the painstaking work they do. Everyone needs them.