Why I don’t fear edits

I missed the signup for Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday, so that will return next week.

In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about edits. I love working on edits, both the self-editing I do and implementing the edits I receive professionally. I’m almost maniacally happy to start in on editing my manuscripts and I have no fear of edits. Why? Well…

Back when I was learning to drive *mumble* years ago, I took driver’s ed. When it came to actually driving, the first time I was behind a wheel of a car, the instructor took me around the neighborhood and then some local roads, so I could get the hang of moving the car, turning, stopping, starting… all the normal stuff.

The second time I was behind the wheel of a car, the instructor took me into center city Philadelphia and had me drive around City Hall. If you’ve never been to Philly, it’s basically a giant circle around a city block that is five lanes or so wide and you have to be in just the right lanes to either turn or keep going. Philly divers are not exactly known for being kind and patient, either.

But he figured if I could manage that, I’d learn that I could dive anywhere.

And it worked. I’ve never, since then, been that horribly frightened of driving anywhere in any kind of traffic. Heck, I even drove a manual transmission car  in Scotland. On single track roads. Best time of my life, really. Not nearly as terrifying as City Hall.

My introduction to having my work professionally edited was kind of like my driver’s education experience. During the second half of my time in the Writing Popular Fiction MFA program at Seton Hill, my mentor sent me this markup on my thesis novel:

Edit1

Yeah. It’s a bit like traffic in Philly. Kinda overwhelming.

It’s actually not as bad as it looks. Wwhen I started in on the edits, I discovered that what he’d left me was a detailed map of how to chip away at the crap and polish up what was left. That’s what I did, and it felt great.

So when I received edits from the publisher of the paranormal romance I wrote under my other name, I did not flinch when they looked like this:

edit2

I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. And it was fine. Easy, even. I’d been around City Hall before, and could do it again. It was much like driving in Scotland–maniacally fun.

In both cases, I ended up with a novel that was better and closer to what I wanted than I’d started with. Because that’s what editors do, they help you write a stronger novel. In neither cases was I dictated to, and in a few places, I declined the edits, as I had good, justifiable reasons for writing what I did. In the end, I have to own all the words on the page.

But if you’re worried about edits, don’t be. They can look daunting, but they’re worth navigating.

Don’t fear the edits. They might even be fun!

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