by Jean Joachim
I hate the words “that”, “just” and “really”. These are words I have over-used in my fiction to the point where I get furious now when I see them. Microsoft Word throws an honest eye on your writing when you use the “find” command, only to discover you have used the word “was” 936 times in a 70,000 word manuscript!
Discovering the words I over-use, learning where my writing weaknesses are is all part of the editing process. There are two phases to the editing process, the first is the one you do at home on your own where you hope to catch all the things that should be fixed. The second part is getting your “edits” back from your publisher when you’ve made a sale. I lost my editing “virginity” five books ago.
Grit your teeth, steel your stomach, the edits are not pretty. But they are most often sent to you by someone who wants to make your book better. So stomp around for a while, holler, scream and curse, if you must. Then sit your fanny down in that chair and get to work.
As hard as the edits may be to take in the beginning, by following along faithfully and making as many of the changes as you can without wrecking your story, you will learn a tremendous amount about yourself and your writing. I have. My problem was that although I’ve been writing for 20 years, I’ve been writing non-fiction, advertising copy and columns, like my movie reviews. This is a completely different type of writing from fiction, especially romance fiction.
So what have I learned? I learned that I often write quickly, my stories fairly fly but I am sometimes missing transitions. One scene may begin abruptly instead of having an appropriate transition to move you easily from scene to scene. That is easy to fix.
My main nemesis, now that I have eliminated those repeating words, is POV or point-of-view. Head hopping, as it is affectionately known, is something I’m guilty of. I have studied the problem and am becoming more and more aware when it’s happening. My goal is to submit a manuscript without one single head-hop. I’m determined to do it and getting closer every day.
These two weaknesses have come to my attention through editing. Use of passive voice has also dogged me. I am conquering that one more easily as it has become more recognizable to me as I work through my edits.
Has my writing improved after living through this process five times? You bet it has. I’m now in my sixth novel, and getting better at re-writing and editing on my own. Yes, it is hard to see these mistakes in yourself. But don’t give up. Keep editing on your own, listen to your editor and try to be open to suggestions. It isn’t easy for us writers as our book is our baby. But every baby has to go to school. Your editor is your teacher. Let her guide you through the rocky waters of editing and bring your book out on the other side the very best book it can be.♥
Jean Joachim is a best-selling romance fiction author, with books hitting the Amazon Top 100 list since 2012. THE RENOVATED HEART won Best Novel of the Year from Love Romances Café. LOVERS & LIARS was a RomCon finalist in 2013. And THE MARRIAGE LIST tied for third place as Best Contemporary Romance from the Gulf Coast RWA. She was chosen Author of the Year in 2012 by the New York City Chapter of Romance Writers of America. Married and the mother of two sons, Jean lives in New York City. Early in the morning, you’ll find her at her computer, writing, with a cup of tea, her rescued put, Homer, by her side and a secret stash of black licorice. Visit her at http://www.jeanjoachimbooks.com.