Writer and Editor: A Dance of Two Minds

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A developmental editor might seem as mysterious as a witch mixing ominous potions into a cauldron while you're strapped to a slab of wood, watching with hope or horror. All you have to do is drink this fresh, sparkling concoction, and a) your writing troubles will be over, or b) your book will be destroyed.

Wouldn't that be terrifyingly fantastic?

It's actually like a respectful dance, where writer and editor go back and forth—learn each other's styles—so the editor can come up with the most useful solutions and the writer can create the best book possible.

It goes something like this:

You write ideas from the bottom of your heart. Then you hate it. But you still love it. (I can't quit you, book.)

I profess my love for your painstaking work, nudge you with some suggestions—based on my knowledge of writing techniques, story structure, character development, and genre expectations—and prompt you to revisit certain areas with a closer look. 

You hit the ground running with new inspiration, motivation, and extra writing tools. You also follow up with me about an idea, or tell me which solution isn't working like you wanted. 

I go back to those last few threads that weren't quite there and give you three more solutions. Because often, there can be many possible solutions to fix the same problem. Anything can be reasoned through, but it's about intention and outcome. 

I think it's getting close! Why, yes, the plan is perfect. 

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You love it. I love it. AND IT WORKS.

Disclaimer: P.S. it's 100% your book.

This dance is only successful if the editor listens to the author's vision and the author opens her mind and rolls up her sleeves to new fixes. We must both stay humble—with our brains sharp. And you, dear author, will have the tools you need to perfect your story.

And the next one.

And the one after that.

Sentence-Level Mishaps Can Have Story-Level Consequences

(My new superpower revealed.)

Have you ever wondered about that mysterious part of a writing journey between story development and fixing your grammar? A magical place exists called line editing or substantive editing, in which an editor goes through your writing line by line to make your writing stronger, clearer, more elegant, with flow and rhythm and shine.

We All Want Someone Who Gets Us

Remember that time you met someone who loved Firefly as much as you do? There was excited squealing and reminiscing over your most favorite parts, laughing at the same jokes, and before you knew it, you were rushing halfway down the aisle of bestie-hood.I have this reaction with one of my authors.

Do You Have a Healthy Relationship With Your Editor?

This blog post is a little bit different than my others. I was discussing this subject with a writer friend, and I realized this isn't really talked about enough. When choosing a developmental editor (DE), there are a bazillion articles and posts about what to look for: training, skill, rates. And while all of that is important, a writer-editor relationship is so much more than that. And it may or may not be a healthy one.

You'll Never Be as Good as That Other Writer

I read the most fantastic book the other day. It made me laugh out loud and made tears prick my eyes and made my heart ache. And I highlighted all of my favorite lines that simply, quietly blew me away. I was mesmerized and reverent, like holding the softest baby chicken in the cup of my hands for the first time. Then I sat in something like a post-coital trance, replaying the favorite parts in my head and mentally snuggling into my love for this great storytelling. I run to my laptop, dust off an old WIP, and proceed to write All The Things.

This is a dangerous thing to do.

So, What Exactly Happened at RWA16?

This blog post was a long time coming. Procrastination, anyone?

I could write my way through all of the fantastic workshops I attended, from the dissection of story structure that strokes my geek side, to hilarious author chats about good and bad sex scenes. Or the session that went into great, great, great detail about what happens at a romance cover photo shoot, starring a live—shirtless—male model, that was definitely not recorded (but burned into the minds of every female, and rare male, in attendance).

On Writing: How to Craft Emotion that Unfolds Incrementally (And Hits You in the Gut)

I came across a blog post the other day that discussed how to write emotion—a subject not new to us—but explained in a new way. I don't like to regurgitate information if someone blogged it better. So I had to share.

Writing Action: Act First, Explain Later

You may have heard the common writing craft advice: Act first, explain later.

This doesn't work out when you're pouring your fifth glass of wine and drunk-texting a confession to BFF about eating the last bag of Cheetos your husband had been pining for (I would never!).

But it's great if you're giving a story beginning or a scene instant momentum, engaging readers to follow something exciting, and showing how a character reacts or makes decisions under pressure.