What I Learned From My Editor # 3 – “Stop Burbling”
(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)
The two e-books I have on Lyrical’s list both went through a rigorous editing process. I tried to take on board what my editor told me. In fact, I find when I write now, my “inner editor” has taken on her voice. “If it doesn’t move the plot forward, take it out” is what I hear most frequently.
My amateur sleuth, Shara Summers, has a habit of “burbling”. When I am writing about her, I find myself with pages and pages of self-reflection that are really no more than her opinion on things and do nothing to move the plot forward. Or I’m focusing on too much detail. I’ve talked about this before. if Shari gets out of a car she’ll remove the key from the ignition, take her seat belt off, open the door, get out, close the door, lock the door, and so on, when all she really needs to do is get out of the car and the reader will assume the rest.
I’m currently working on Draft 3 of the second Shara Summers book, and when I get to the end of this draft, I hope it will be ready to present to beta readers. As I work on it, I am hearing this voice in my head, and I’m sure it’s my editor’s. “You don’t need all this detail. What’s important in this chapter? The six paragraphs you’ve got before that are slowing the story down. Cut to the action.”
It used to be that when I was working on Draft 2 onwards I’d be adding words, feeling the need to pad out the story. My editor has taught me that this isn’t necessary.
However, this means that I’m writing much shorter novels. Both SUFFER THE CHILDREN and DEATH SCENE lost over 10,000 words in the editing process, and neither of them were particularly wordy tomes to begin with. The current WIP was less than 60,000 words by the end of Draft 2. At the rate I’m going, it’s going to come in at less than 50,000 words when it’s finished.
I always thought I was a novel writer. Maybe I’m more a novella writer. Perhaps it’s fortuitous that I’m an e-author. There’s far more scope for short novels with e-books than with print books.