Edit. It’s that simple. And if you’re lucky enough to work with a professional editor in the process of writing your book, then treasure that experience. I know I’ve written about this before. But having just emerged from the edit of my second book, If I Should Lose You, then I can’t help but talk about it again.
Editing makes your book better. You can self-edit your book up to a point, but if you really want it to be the best it can be, then you have to trust somebody else to do an edit. My publisher organised a different editor to work with me on this book because, although it has some similarities to What is Left Over, After, it also has some big differences. A good publisher does that – they pick the editor best suited to your book.
My editor was based in Sydney and of course with email and phone calls, this worked just fine. She started with a structural edit, which is all about looking at the big picture of the book – what am I trying to achieve as a writer – and then pointing out areas where I wasn’t achieiving what I wanted to.
In this structural editing report, there was one small sentence, ‘Camille’s (my main character) narrative arc isn’t as strong as Alix’s (another main character). She needs to have more going on in her day to day life.’ Not especially profound you might think but it was that one sentence that changed a large part of my novel quite dramatically. Because as a writer, you start to wonder – well, what else could Camille have going on in her life (she already has a marriage on the rocks, a very ill child and no parents to speak of). Surely that’s dramatic enough? But no it isn’t. That’s all the big stuff in life; Camille needed something more ordinary, more daily, to carry the weight of her narrative. And once you ask that question – what esle could she do? – you begin to have ideas.
One idea jumped out at me staight away and the minute I had it, I knew it was perfect. The idea completely altered my novel and tied all the separate strands up into such a beautiful bundle. But it never would have happened without that one insightful comment in a structural edit report.
So I hope I’ve inspired all my fellow writers to go out and find someone to edit their work. And for those of you who aren’t writers, I hoped I’ve inspired you all to look forward to August this year when If I Should Lose you hits the shelves.