Editing a Completed Novel by Sally Clements

Completing a novel is just the first goal in a novelist’s journey, and when I write I turn off my inner editor and just write. Once I have a first draft, I check plotline, structure, conflicts, character, voice etc, and finesse into the second draft. The third draft is a detailed addressing of all the things I know I do wrong, such as using phrases that muddy the writing like ‘he was going to have to…’ constructions, which are changed to ‘he would have to…’ and checking that I haven’t ended sentences with a preposition.

I also pay attention to adverb usage, and action tags, and check for overused words.I live in Ireland, but write in American English as the majority of my readers prefer it. I make sure that my spelling is correct, and that I have used the correct words and phrases. I work with an American editor to catch any strays that slip through. When I have completed these steps, I read the entire novel aloud which really helps to identify
any dialogue that doesn’t sound right, and sentences that aren’t correct.

Then the book is off to my editor, Cindy Davis. RUNAWAY GROOM is the sixth book we’ve worked on together. We do three rounds of edits and work using Track Changes in Microsoft Word.

Here are some edits that we did with RUNAWAY GROOM.

ADVERBS

Before:
There was even a stand holding all of her threads, sequins and beads, carefully placed in the perfect position so she could grab them quickly and easily.

After:
There was even a stand holding all of her threads, sequins and beads, carefully placed in the perfect position so she could grab them in a flash.

CLARIFYING TEXT:

Before:
June grinned. “Not with these directions. That’s got to be the longest text  I’ve ever seen in my life. Your fingertips must have melted.”

After:
June grinned. “Not with these directions. That was the longest text  I’ve ever seen in my life. Your fingertips must have melted.”

According to  Chicago Manual of Style, no semi-colons in dialogue.
This was a bad one, I had multiple occurrences!

Before:
“You’ll be fine. You’re always so well organized. Look at you; you’ve already made all the dresses! How many designers are showing a collection?”

After:
“You’ll be fine. You’re always so well organized. Look at you, you’ve already made all the dresses! How many designers are showing a collection?”


REPETITION: 
Instances of this were pruned:

Before: 

“About Matthew?” June’s smile held a hint of sadness. “Yes, I told him before he proposed. There’s no way of keeping a secret in Brookbridge. I reckoned someone would tell him at some stage, and it might as well be me.”

After:
“About Matthew?” June’s smile held a hint of sadness. “Yes, I told him before he proposed. I reckoned someone would tell him at some stage, and it might as well be me.”


Before:
“We should have stuck to beer,” she muttered under her breath.

My editor pointed out that muttering, by definition, is under the breath, so this line was changed to:

After:
“We should have stuck to beer,” she muttered.

The first edits I ever did with an editor taught me a great deal. Every book  I’ve written and edited since has sharpened my skill. However, there are always problems in a manuscript and these problems can be impossible to spot by the author, so I consider editing with a professional a vital part of the process!

Sally Clements is a hybrid author in that she has been published by traditional publishers and also self-publishes. She’s been published by The Wild Rose Press, and has a book coming out at the end of 2013 with Entangled Publishing. She lives in Ireland, and between the constant rain, spends way too much time driving ‘Mum’s taxi.’ You can contact her through her blogs,  Love and Chocolate and The Minxes of Romance and of course through FacebookGoodreads, Twitter.


RUNAWAY GROOM



Seven years ago, Matthew Logan ran out on his wedding to June Leigh. Life is good for fledgling dress-designer April Leigh. She couldn’t be happier that her sister has found a new love, and is excited about her veryfirst commission, June’s wedding dress.
On learning June has invited runaway groom Matthew Logan to the wedding, April has to intervene. Matthew’s presence will ruin everything – her father hates him, and just the sight of him in the church might give her mother a heart attack.

Matthew Logan has no intention of going to June’s wedding, but intriguing April’s arrival on his doorstep sparks his interest and he can’t resist getting to know her better. When a disaster forces them together neither can denythe passion that combusts into a red-hot affair. Discovering the truth about the past shifts April’s feelings from lust to love, but bitter experience has taught Matthew to guard his heart.

When it looks as though Matthew will lose her forever, will he fight or flee?

Get it here:  Amazon  Amazon UK

33 comments:

  1. Hi Sally!

    Welcome to R&E. You gave such splendid examples and I'm reading Runaway Groom and noting down these points. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Thanks Maria for inviting Sally!

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    1. My pleasure Nas. And she has some great tips to share...

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  2. Hi Nas and Maria! Great to be here!

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    1. It's our pleasure to host you, Sally.

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  3. Runaway Groom sounds great!
    And I loved those editing examples!

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  4. LifeAsYouLiveIt13 June 2013 at 07:52

    Gosh, I thought writing a book must be easy. It's hard work if Sally's post is anything to go by.

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    1. Writing can be easy, but sometimes the re-writing and editing can be hard work!

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  5. Interesting to read your editing examples, and the novel sounds great :o) Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Hello Karen, thank you for coming over and commenting.

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  6. I love the before and after. The tightened sentences are much stronger.

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    1. Another great way to tighten is to take something like 'smile'. Highlight how many times you use it in a manuscript, and see if you can rework some of them with some fresh detail, what type of a smile etc. Glad you liked, Medeia!

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  7. Learned more in your blog in 5 minutes than a host of workshops. Thanks.nJody, the Medicare Mom

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    1. Hi Jody, that's a very interesting comment indeed. Thanks Sally for the wonderful post.

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  8. This sounds like a book that will have a lot of action and drama. :) I really enjoyed the editing examples and the steps she takes to edit and revise her writing. Very helpful! I am working on using less adverbs too!

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  9. Glad to have helped, Stephanie!

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  10. I have learned so much from my editors. Now if I could just remember it all as I revise :)

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    1. I suppose it's a continuing learning process, Carol. We learn as we go.

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    2. I have a checklist of my worst 'writing sins' that I keep next to the computer and use to check the second draft, Carol..it helps!

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  11. Replies
    1. Thanks Cherie. And thanks for stopping by and leaving a coment.

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    2. Glad you found them helpful, Cherie!

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  12. Excellent advice. Love the before and after. Makes a lot of sense!

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    1. Thank you Wendy. Glad you enjoyed the post.

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    2. Glad you found it useful, Wendy. I like before and afters!

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  13. Oh Matthew!! Stay and win April's heart PLEASE! No running away now!! :-)

    Take care
    x

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  14. ah yes, it makes a huge difference tightening the prose, cutting the fat.

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