Again with the wordiness.
Since signing contracts with Master Koda Select Publishing, I've had three manuscripts perused by my publisher and given the once-over (twice, three times...) by professional editors. It's an anxious time when your blood, sweat and tears are bound up in a file and sent off for others to dissect. As a writer, you know exactly what you're trying to say and the emotions you're trying to elicit from your readers. Editors, on the other hand, sift through your words to see if said words come together into understandable sentences, paragraphs and chapters. Does the work flow flawlessly between scenes? Is it historically factual? Is there too much clutter in the story?
It can be hard to slash things from a story you've worked on for months. Hard, but not impossible – and necessary. Editors don't get enough credit sometimes. I suppose it's because when our manuscripts come back to us with red marks scattered throughout, we sometimes bristle at their remarks. How could he/she possibly understand what I was trying to say here? They don't know what they’re talking about. How dare they suggest I cut that scene out! The fact is – they do know what they're talking about. Now, I know there are bad editors out there but I'm not talking about them. No, I’m talking about professional editors who know and love their work. These editors do nothing more than help writers make their story the best it can be.
Arlene O'neil is one such editor; she's straight forward and honest. She is also gentle with her remarks. This isn't an ad for A. O'neil but if you're looking for a great editor, she fits the bill. She has edited the first two books in my 'Rough Hewn Trilogy'; People of Kilmservy Village and Discoveries & Escape. Thank goodness that most of the red marks in these manuscripts have been in my punctuation. Yes, elementary school stuff! *turns red and shakes head* But, that's one good reason to hire an editor. I realized that I needed the advantages afforded by a professional edit. I'm very happy that I did not publish without these edits. After all, we writers should publish nothing but the absolute best and most polished story we can have for our readers to enjoy.
DeEtte Beckstead Anderton at DeEditing Services is also such an editor. Her sweet, gentle way softens even the deepest red editing mark. She and my publisher, KimMutch Emerson, are responsible for the edits in my debut release; 'Ziggy Returns: A Short Tale', a short ghost story available at Amazon.com for 99¢. The edits on this story were my first professional editing experience. It was enlightening, to say the least. It was also the first story where I had to cut an entire scene. *Ouch* I liked that scene. It had lots of back and forth banter between the characters. But, in the end, it didn't move the story forward which made it pointless. If the reader gets bored and starts flipping through the pages, you've lost them and that's not a good thing for any author who wishes to engage their readers.
Here again I'll share with you what I've learned and am reminded of with each new edit - save the last one.
I am still guilty of being too wordy. I like to throw in a lot of nonessential words. Seriously, why do that? I suppose if I had the answers to that question, I wouldn't do it in every story I write!
Here are three examples of my wordiness from 'Rough Hewn: People of Kilmservy Village'. The first sentences are my original followed by the less wordy versions that sound much better while still saying what needed to be said. The last lines are the best however; the second lines work okay too.
- Allison said as she took the reins.
- Allison took the reins.
- Manus asked as he poked at the coals in the fading fire.
- Manus poked at the coals in the fading fire.
- Manus poked at the coals.
- Oliver said as he tossed a can over one of the rails in the shelter.
- Oliver tossed a can over one of the rails in the shelter.
- Oliver tossed a can over a rail in the shelter.
So, you can see from these three examples that it's not as difficult as it seems to cut things down while polishing your final manuscript. Believe me, it's worth every bit of extra effort you put into your book. Never be afraid to cut unnecessary bits from your story. Engage the reader - keep the story moving. Your readers will thank you.
As I mentioned earlier, 'Ziggy Returns' is available at Amazon.com now. The Rough Hewn Trilogy will release on 7 September, 2013. The first book, People of Kilmservy Village is the shortest in length of the three. Set in the mid to late 1800s, it follows the Stuttshire and Breckenship families’ travels from the beaches of North Carolina across the hills into East Tennessee where they build and settle homesteads that pass down through generations. This book shows the history of family feuds within the village and sets up Carolyn 'Carrie' Dunsmorrest's story, which follows in the second and third books.
His widow, Minna, dreams of being free to live a peaceful and quiet life without her husband’s constant barrage of insults and cruelty.
When her husband dies, she sees it as her opportunity to finally have the life she has dreaming about for years. She sets out to remove all reminders of him from her home and life.
Little did she know that even a dead Ziggy would not leave home without having the last word. When she returns home from the hospital after learning of his passing, she feels his presence and soon realizes that he is still in the home with her. He wants to make things right between them and refuses to leave until he has done so.
A new home in a new land brings with it far more than one family expected when they set out on their journey.
Carving a village out of the wild hills of the mid south, he and his family welcome others whose descendants still live in the old homesteads. Murder, secrets and lies abound from the beginning. Family feuds are carried over for generations fed by the worst kind of evil that runs through the Breckenship bloodline.
Depravity lives on the mountain above the idyllic village of Kilmservy.
Coming to Amazon.com 7 September, 2013