This past week I have begun another round of edits for the first book I ever wrote, Adeline and the Mystic Berries. With lots of amazing feedback from agents, I thought it important that I gather help in regards to editing.
When you get to the querying stage, it is important to remember that this will not be the last time you’ll need to edit your story. If it is, and all of your work is accepted by an agent or publisher, I commend you. More often than not though, you will need to revisit your story at least another time or two (perhaps even more than that).
Don’t despair. Through editing, we take a book that has a lot of promise, and turn it into one that thousands of readers will love.
For Adeline’s story, my feedback was very consistent: great concept, love the characters, but slow to start (needing to get to the action quicker). There were also some other minor things that were suggested to hone the story down to the necessities. All of the tips I received were very helpful.
The most important thing to remember was, I was receiving feedback at all. Getting rejections can be hard, but when they are accompanied by suggestions as to how to better the story, and are met with wide interest, it behooves you to listen.
So this go around, I decided to enlist some help. I hired an editor who has been amazing to work with! I had reached a point where I wasn’t sure where to start, and she gave that to me so I could get back to Adeline.
It’s often difficult to know what is important and what to cut; so tough to learn that you must “kill your darlings.” But extra words and scenes often slow down the flow of the story and that is precisely what I didn’t want to have happen in Adeline’s tale.
Right now I am going through my editor’s in-line edits, page-by-page. Once I have completed that (I was able to get just over halfway through them this week), I will look to rearrange chapters, cut some out, sprinkle important details from the deleted chapters throughout, and in essence, hone the book to its necessary parts.
In the end, I hope to have something I know agents will love, that will jump you into Adeline’s story without dragging you through world-building (this is a Fantasy story after all). Such description can and should be in the story, but strategically placed, not all in a lump at the beginning.
How have your book projects been going? Have any of you enlisted help from editors prior to finding representation? I am curious to know your editing stories. I’d love for you to share them with me in the comments below.
For more concept pictures I’ve drawn up for Adeline and the Mystic Berries, visit my Portfolio page.
This past week I have continued to work on my edits for Adeline and the Mystic Berries. After having finished the in-line edits from my editor, Alison Williams, it was time to go back in and do some reorganization.
One of the pieces of feedback I received from her was that the beginning was too slow to start. The writing was sound, but for an audience that ranged from ages 8-12 years old, they wouldn’t have the patience to make it through the slower world-building parts to get to the action. Fair point, well made.
I had to get to the point. I could do that. I would do that. As per my editor’s suggestions, I went ahead and cut out the first four chapters of the book. Phew! That is not something most writers would want to do, but I couldn’t lose my readers in the first twenty pages, knowing that the story picked up right afterward.
I had written a new beginning with a completely different twist than my original story had had, and she loved the idea. After that, she wanted me to jump into Adeline finding Aspen.
Now, I am reworking the most important details from the first four chapters, that still needed to find their way into the book. I couldn’t leave Rav’n (my favorite crow) out of the mix, so I simply, found a different way to bring him in.
Sometimes “Killing Your Darlings” can be a good thing. As I edit, write new scenes, and add to the ones already there, I find that ‘killing my darlings’ has only stood to make my writing stronger.
I can’t wait to see what this story becomes when my edits come to an end. I don’t feel as though I am steering away from the heart of the story. I feel like the direction Alison has given me, along with the feedback I’ve received from literary agents, has made me realize I hadn’t yet seen my story’s full potential. It is empowering to know that I am on my way there now.
On a separate note, Father’s Day is coming up soon, and you know what that means . . . I need to finish my dad’s underwater illustration! I am over halfway there now, and making headway each day. I plan to post the progress and finished illustration in a YouTube video for my Ink & Stitches YouTube Channel, so stay tuned. You’ll be seeing more illustration work from me very soon!