The editorial process for novels

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Martin L. Shoemaker
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The editorial process for novels

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Sat Nov 11, 2017 8:22 am

As suggested by Ishmael, this is a thread for discussing the editorial process and what to expect. Novel editing and short fiction editing have significant differences, so I'm launching two threads. I'll bet you can guess what this one is...

I've also invited editors to contribute their thoughts. We'll see if they respond.
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Other worlds from award-winning author Martin L. Shoemaker

WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!
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REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT!
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juliecfrost
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Re: The editorial process for novels

Postby juliecfrost » Wed May 09, 2018 11:49 pm

My first experience with novel edits, people had to talk me off of ledges. At that point, the first and only novel I'd ever written had been accepted by WordFire. The developmental editor read it and said, "[Certain character] is completely useless. Either give her more to do, or cut her completely and give her stuff to other characters."

After I got done breathing into a paper bag, I realized that while I was writing the thing, I'd been hunting around for stuff for her to do. Her presence was a function of how the whole thing started (as a mashup between Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man--don't ask), but... he was right. We were on a ridiculously tight deadline, but I by-God got the thing rewritten in time and the book was so much better for it. I ended up taking her out of the novel and sending her to Australia on vacation for the duration; I couldn't remove her from the universe entirely because I'd written something like 14 short stories set there, some of which she was in.

She's got a much bigger role in book 2, and the (new) editor didn't ding me for her. However, he came with his own issues about certain things, and he had a bad habit of moving sentences from a paragraph to the previous one. I realize (now) that I have a tendency to write an action sentence before the dialog in a paragraph, but the solution to that is not to stick that sentence in its own paragraph (thus giving it more emphasis than it deserves), or to put it in a paragraph where a different character is doing the talking or the actions. The solution to that is to point out my tendency and then let me fix it myself, if I deem that it actually needs fixing. There was also an issue where he didn't like how I was writing one of my female characters and eventually told me (after I pointed out that he was actually wrong about a certain plot point) that a particular scene needed more emotion from her. He was right about that--I am emotionally stunted and need periodic reminders to add emotion--but it was kind of hilarious to be lectured about feminism and then told to make my lady more emotional.

Overall, I'm going with "these experiences were ultimately positive and made my novels far better than they were before we started," but ugh, it is painful to be told that your baby is ugly. Especially when they're right.

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Martin L. Shoemaker
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Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2011 7:20 am
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Re: The editorial process for novels

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Sun May 20, 2018 10:31 am

My experience is only one book, so far: Today I Am Carey based on my short story "Today I Am Paul". Editor Tony Daniel sent me a two-page doc. Lots of it consisted of tense changes and similar copy edits. There were also places where he thought a point deserved emphasis, usually because it would become significant later and he didn't want the reader to miss it.

On top of that... Well, "Today I Am Paul" appeared in Clarkesworld, so Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace read it. It appeared in four year's best anthologies (including Neil's own); so Gardner Dozois, Rich Horton, and Allen Kaster read it. It has been translated into eight languages, so that's eight more editors who read it. And first readers, and reviewers, and readers... And Tony Daniel asked a question NONE of them had asked, and had never occurred to me. And as soon as he asked, it was an obvious question. But only he asked it. That's valuable editing!

Soon I hope to have more experience to share. Nothing I can announce yet; but fans of Nick Aames, keep watching...
http://Shoemaker.Space
Other worlds from award-winning author Martin L. Shoemaker

WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!
SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT!
REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT!
Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience.
NNiNN


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