Wednesday, January 16, 2013

At least with root canal, you get anaesthesia

Photo by Victor Keegan, used under a CC license, with attribution

I've had to have a lot of restorative dentistry in my adult life, thanks to really poor dental care as a child, so when I tell you I know all about the dubious joys of root canal, I am telling the truth.

But I think a root canal is preferable to the nearly unbearable torture I not only am willingly putting myself through, but paying for the privilege.

Yes, good people, I'm talking about working with an editor.

Well, how can that be painful, you might ask. It's just spelling and punctuation and grammar, (oh my!) right?


That, my dear ones, is copy editing. A relatively painless endeavor, on par with getting one's teeth cleaned at an annual dental visit. When it's finished, with the one you have a sparkling smile, with the other, a clean manuscript, free of egregious clerical errors.

The editing that I'm talking about is story or developmental editing. When a sadistic highly skilled reader and wordsmith puts a stake in the heart of your story gives you the feedback as to where your story is and isn't working, tearing apart analyzing plot, character, tension, pacing, stakes, structure, and writing style.

If you are lucky, you'll cry, believing she is a cold-hearted witch perfectionistic task master.

Why is this lucky? Because if you know your manuscript has flaws, but you're so close to it you can't see it, and you are ready to put in the work to make it shine, and you're ready to hear that your every word isn't the chime of heavenly bells, then *this* kind of editor will be your biggest champion.

When I started to interact with Rebecca Blain on Google+, I had no idea she would end up owning me.

Yes, she has, in the span of 2 days, reduced me to a quivering pile of jelly. I gave her what I knew was a story that needed some work. What she gave me back was about as pleasant as getting a cavity drilled without novocaine. 

What I figured would turn into a structured revision will be more like a complete tear down and rebuild after scouring the foundation. (okay, maybe the foundation can stay) This was the third book I wrote. I was still mastering the basics of POV and scene building. I didn't really have a firm grasp on characterization and didn't see my problem with floating heads in black boxes. In short, this was in essence, a trunked novel.

But stubborn girl that I am, I didn't want to abandon the story and after finishing my eighth manuscript, I figured I was up to the challenge.

In the past 48 hours, I think Rebecca has challenged me in my writing life more than I have ever been challenged before. Even if this story doesn't find its way into the world, I know all my future stories will be stronger because of what she is putting me through.

Even if I'd rather spend more time with my dentist than face her comments on another attempt at the opening scene of this book.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome to the real world post "beta readers". LOL. Here, passes you a stiff drink.