I’m getting ready to open up my doors as a developmental editor. There’s still more to do before I officially hang out my shingle and I’ll keep you posted when the time comes. But I decided to add editor to my resume because 1) I like helping other people make their writing better 2) it’s fun (I know I’m weird) and 3) I realized after years (around 8) of helping other writers mold their work, I’m good at it. In the vain of being an editor, I thought I’d offer up some kind of tip every Tuesday (Editing Tips Tuesday) on how to fix or make better what you’re working on. I’d love to hear from you and your thoughts on Editing Tips Tuesday. Don’t be shy. We’re all friends here. (And if someone isn’t our friend, I’ll kick them out. ;-] )
Now might be a good time to share the experience that qualifies me to be an editor. I wrote six books and published three. I attended countless workshops and seminars on the craft of writing over the past twelve years. (Not to mention all the books I read on the subject.) Educating myself has been a priority to creating good fiction. Many authors, published and unpublished, have asked me to review their work and taken my advice. (That’s when it started to occur to me I might have a secondary career here.)
Know your genre. Read widely in it. It’s important to know what readers of that genre expect. If you’re writing a thriller, your book can’t be 900 pages long. Unless you’re David Morrell. No first time or unknown author can publish a 900 page book and keep the reader or hook an editor or agent. If it is 900 pages long? There’s stuff you need to cut. Stuff you have probably fallen in love with and think the reader desperately needs to know. I promise you they don’t. Reevaluate. Cut out the backstory. Backstory is all the things that happen before your story begins. Ask yourself: where does this story really start? Answer: At the action.
Another rule of thumb: Think of your book like a movie. A two-hour screenplay is 120 pages long. The inciting incident needs to happen in the first 20 to 30 minutes to hook the audience. That’s 20-30 pages in. Where is your inciting incident? If it’s happening past page 30 move it up. And if it happens off-screen? Big no-no.
I’d love to hear from you. Are you having trouble cutting pages from your book? Unsure where your story should begin? Drop a line. I can help.