While on the subject of editing, here are a few of my rationales for how I go about that process and a few bullets regarding reviews and edits. Your process will certainly be different, but maybe there are a few takeaways here for you.
I don’t choreograph my novels, except when I expect a lot of characters and/or subplots. And what this means to my writing process is a lot of harm scrum writing, a plot line that is disjointed and distorted (although I’m getting better at initially assembling a coherent plot with a proper palate of characters). The quality and consistency of my prose gets worked out fairly well during incremental editing of sentence structure, imaginative word selection, and voice. A savvy reader will appreciate this, but said reader and those who simply read for plot pleasure usually don’t take the time to savor our writing style. This doesn’t mean you should be sloppy in that regard; it simply means be aware of the different motivations and expectations of readers and do what you can to accommodate them.
It’s important to get reader feedback, too. And recognize there are four basic kinds of such legitimate feedback:
- critique groups. These can tend toward the nit-picky, but such encounters may be your writing’s first valid exposure to how readers see your writing.
- comments by independent editors you engage, or once you’ve signed a publishing contract, the publisher will almost always require an editor to look the work over. Here, publishers often look for certain structures in the writing they seek to publish, and your editor’s comments may be to accommodate this.
- reviews on websites and the like, such as Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. These will be the first place readers will test-drive your completed and published works. Solicit these even before the book is officially published.
- Magazine and newspaper reviews. Here, your validation of such reviews can be complicated. These reviewers often evaluate the writer through the work, meaning the critic may like your writing, but for various reasons not like you. Or vice versa.
Don’t feel put off during any of these review stages. However, don’t always take them in toto. This is your work, your reputation on the line, so only take from these what you believe will improve a particular work or your writing in general.
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