Tuesday, January 31, 2012

This Needs Editing?

My particular problem that I need a little help on has to do with editing, specifically, my novel "Line 21", of which you will find at my other blog, the chapter in question, all five pages of it.

I finally found some free time over the weekend to pull out the chapter in question and briefly skim through the parts that the editor had some questions on, and to be honest with everyone, I'm a little confused as to why he had questions. So I thought that a little help from my friends would help clear up my confusion.

He had three areas of concern. The first involved the symbiont Aissa, of which was a multi-part question, and should be the easiest to take care of:

The symbiont is introduced on p3, yet we don't know her name until p27. Why is that? And does everyone have a symbiont? Why does Jeannie have one? Could she afford one or are they just free? I like the idea, but it needs more believability. Can the symbiont accompany her outside?
Adding the name at the point of introduction is the easiest thing to do, the problem I have is with the other questions. I know that I had peppered the first third of the book with some basic info about Aissa and Jeannie and even showed how the symbiont accompanies her outside (the second third of the book covers this) but I didn't really go in depth as to why Jeannie has one to begin with. I guess the question I'm having is this: should I do more of a info dump at the beginning, or do I try to spread it out? Should I even try to answer those other questions?

The second area of concern involves the opening scene of the novel:

There's also the issue of POV, the initial phone call is from Jeannie's point of view, so she can't know Uncle Rudy 'thought about it', he went silent, probably giving it some thought. He gave an audible sigh, what other kinds are there?
I'm not sure if I'm missing the point here. Did I use a bad selection of words for the sentence in question? I thought that by saying 'he thought about it', that meant he already knew about the type of issues she was going through to begin with.

The third area of concern also involves the opening scene, and it's where I'm having the most confusion with:

I wanted more scene setting, where did the phone conversation take place, in the park? Because that's the first indication as to where Jeannie is, when she stretches out on the bench. And if she's stretched out on the bench, where does Ken sit, benches aren't that long. She sat and stretched out her legs? Then we get even more unbelievable, she tells a complete stranger she has to get hold of 2K...sorry, don't buy that.
This is where I find myself at odds with what he thinks is wrong, and this is why.

When I wrote "stretches out on the bench" I didn't mean that she literally stretches out on the bench. I had her stretching out on the bench the same way that some people stretch on a bench, which would be like you were stretching out while sitting in a chair. Not putting your legs up to take a nap.

So if Jeannie is stretching out like I described, then there is plenty of room for Ken to sit down next to her. A poor choice of words? I'm not sure. If you read that particular sentence, does it give you the image of someone taking up the entire bench or does it give you the image of what I just described and intended?

As for the other part that he finds unbelievable, in that she tells a complete stranger that she has to get hold of 2K, I have to respectfully disagree. I have experienced from time to time, that kind of openness with a stranger. It's part of my personality, in that people have shown a willingness to open up to me about all kinds of things.

Maybe I should expand on the conversation between Ken and Jeannie so that it doesn't feel so abrupt? Does that sound feasible?

These are a few of the questions that I have and until I can come up with some concrete ideas/answers, I'm kind of stuck between a rock and hard place with the additional editing of this novel.

So my good friends, fellow readers and fellow writers, got any suggestions that might point me in the right direction with this request?


  1. I've found that with suggestions like some of these, it's often effective to make them minor ... word selection, rewriting a phrase or two. Just enough to address the issue. But with POV, be really careful. Everyone's very quick to catch a slip-up with it and so POV needs to read flawless. If it changes in any way when it shouldn't, I find it can take the reader right out of the story.

  2. Joanne: I agree with your point about POV.

    As for making the changes minor, that does make sense.

    The last thing I really want to do is add more and take away from the flow of the story, which is why I'm hesitant about explaining the the concept of the symbiont.

  3. I'm with Joanne - subtle tweaks and then the editor thinks, "He knew I was right!"

  4. M: It is definitely something to think about.

    As a matter of fact, I started doing that just a tiny bit last night.

  5. This is a tough one - I tend to think if he took the time to give you feedback this specific, I would try to find a way to make his suggestions work. Without sacrificing too much. He might be your best bet for publication.

  6. Lynn: Thanks.

    He might be at that. Still, it will take a lot of thought to see how I can work the suggestions in w/o killing the flow of the story.

  7. Yeah you have to add them in subtley, as if you do too much it does change the flow and then you may have to go and rework everything else, that already works.

  8. Pat: This is so very very true.

    I can't tell how many times I've screwed up a short story by going back to tweak something and unintentionally changing the flow of the story.


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