Monday, March 1, 2010

My Checklist for Chocolate-Induced Content Edits

The following was posted on the ACFW Colorado blog today.

Ironic that I should kick off this month's topic, Editing and Revisions. I just finished an eleven page content edit for the third book in my contemporary Oregon series entitled Fine Feathered Friend (Barbour Heartsong Presents.) I rejoiced when I got that. At least it wasn't fifteen pages like the first book's edits.

I have a system when tackling edits of this nature. See if yours is similar.
  1. I open the large, thick attachment with fear and trembling.

  2. I peruse it, looking for key words and phrases. (Great job! Made me smile! You are the best, funniest, most talented author I have ever worked with!)

  3. When I don't find those key words and phrases, I minimize the window and tear my kitchen apart for chocolate. I know I'm going to need it.

  4. After a quick trip to the mini-market on the corner for chocolate, I open the window again and look at the comments with a more professional eye.

  5. My particular editor goes chapter by chapter. Generally, I skim through it the first time, changing the easy stuff first rather than getting bogged down on something that requires major thread surgery. This bouys my confidence when I see that much of it is easy to fix. (In God Gave the Song, for instance, she suggested I change a rock to a boulder. Whatever. I did it.)

  6. Then, I hit the things that require more thought, making sure my bowl of Hershey's Almond Toffee Milk Chocolate Nuggets is within reach. (In Fine Feathered Friend, she worried about the hero's grandfather and if he'd ever had the doctor's appointment that I had mentioned, and what was the outcome? Um...no, I totally forgot about it. And in the course of the story, I had to redo some things to show that he missed his appointment. And once you mess with a thread, you have to make sure that you haven't snipped it somewhere else along the line.)

  7. I go item by item, checking off each one or making a notation. (Ask raptor center about this, talk to crit group about how to approach this, and my favorite, IGNORE!)

  8. I try to leave enough time to read the entire story over again with all of my changes. This will, of course, prompt a little more tweaking, but is well worth it. (NOTE: If the editor has sent your manuscript for you to make track changes, DO NOT accept all of the changes unless instructed to do so. If you want to read a clean manuscript, save to a new document, then hit accept all.)

  9. Satisfied with my changes, I send them back to my editor and finish off the bowl of chocolate as my reward.

  10. I step up my Curves program to five days a week instead of three to get rid of the chocolate-generated fat on my thighs.

That's how I approach edits that come back from my publisher, but I utilize the principle in a similar way before sending it out in the first place. Attack the small stuff, assault the larger picture, annihalate the bowl of chocolate. Regroup at Curves.