I’m officially enmeshed in final (one hopes) revisions to The Daedalus Incident, but I’m taking time away from the wordsmithing to make my very first guest spot on a SF/F podcast. On Wednesday, I’ll be on SupaFi64 at 10 p.m. EST to talk about the book and, most likely, a wide variety of other geeky topics. You can listen to the podcast LIVE on BlogTalkRadio, or download it later from iTunes. The SupaFi64 gang put on a great show, so come check it out.
Meanwhile, I received my editorial letter this week from Ross Lockhart, editor extraordinaire at Night Shade Books. I had previously scoffed at the wailing and gnashing of teeth I saw from other authors about this particular phenomenon. Surely, I thought, this wouldn’t be a bad thing. One’s editor was there to improve the book, and the author by extension — not to subject writers to torture. This faith was tested slightly when I read this:
…I’ve marked up a Word file of the manuscript, highlighting approximately two hundred individual points…
Thankfully, this trepidation lasted only as long as it took me to open the file. Therein, I found that roughly 150 of these individual points were exceedingly minor. I had probably 15-20 typos, which in a 136,000-word book I feel is a moral victory. Another couple dozen were simple suggestions to tweak sentences, easily accomplished. And given that NSB’s style is to capitalize titles like Doctor, Captain and Ambassador, I had at least 100 titles to capitalize, probably more.
The rest of the comments fell into roughly three or four areas of overall improvement that the book could use. This is stuff I hadn’t thought of, but in retrospect, make tons of sense — and will improve the book for you, the reader. And that, to me, is what good editing does.
I’ve been writing professionally for 20 years, and a good editor can be immensely valuable. I didn’t always think this way. When I was a young, green reporter, I thought every word I wrote was gold. I had a lot of talent coupled with very little wisdom and a bad attitude toward editing. I was pretty dumb.
It took a while, but I eventually discovered what a good editor can do. A good editor challenges perspectives, adds nuance and makes the writing better, both on a sentence level and a story level. A good editor can also make the writer better if he or she is smart enough to listen. Even if the writer disagrees, the writer needs to subsume that knee-jerk, WTF reaction and figure out why the editor wants to make a given change. The process of taking one’s time to figure it out is invaluable, even if the writer still disagrees in the end.
Ross’ edits to The Daedalus Incident were pretty self-evident and very good overall. A few of the edits and comments had me doing a face-palm, others gave me food for thought, but all of them made sense and, to my eye, would improve the book. Ross knows his stuff, and I’m grateful for his work. Not only will the book be better, but I know I’ll come away having learned something.
All right, enough of this blogging. I have work to do…!