Editing the book: getting it “righter”

Let me spend a few words on describing what happened once Bitingduck accepted my manuscript. Editor-in-chief, Jay Nadeau, once the contract was signed, asked me to work on some initial revisions. Now, instead of just one set of eyes on the text, I had several. I didn’t feel so alone in the process. A team of us were working together to make the story the best it could be. It’s a happy place, let me tell you.

I went through the two sets of comments she sent, and found that they had read carefully and their suggestions improved the story. I had missed a couple of dramatic opportunities, places where it was possible to include more action to illustrate character more clearly. There were some inconsistencies in character, places where characters were acting in ways they shouldn’t have been.  There were places where characters set down a fork, and it disappears from the table, or run into a wall that shouldn’t be there. Then the run-of-the-mill surface errors. So I set to work.

As I said in an earlier post, I’ve learned to accept criticism, mostly because it’s either that or quit. Plus, I’ve got a lot of learning to do as a writer, even though I’m not so young any more. Good suggestions are a shortcut to some excellent learning. Often, too, I have to grow as a writer just to understand suggestions, let alone make the changes. The process I’ve been through with Bitingduck has been delightfully instructive. I can’t ask for more.

Anyhow, how did I know these were good criticisms? My standard for a fix is that I should be able to “feel the difference.” In other words, the story should be improved in some kind of tangible way when I rework it. It should feel better, more authentic, more substantial. I really don’t know how to describe this feeling, but it’s palpable. Somehow the story becomes “righter,” if you’ll pardon my lack of grammar. So when I went through the proposed changes, I found that the story did feel “righter,” “tighter,” and “brighter” (hey, I’m a poet and I didn’t even realize it.). The changes worked. And I felt confident that the story was on a better track as a result of the interaction. We’re nearing the end of process, I think. As my daughter would have said when she was younger, “it feeled good.”

About Bill Bunn

Bill’s excited because his second YA novel, Kill Shot, is now available everywhere! Bill Bunn is the author of three books (soon to be four), several essays and articles. He published his first young adult novel, Duck Boy, in October 2012 (bitingduckpress.com). His second book is a collection of grown-up essays and articles titled Hymns of Home, released April 1, 2013 (bitingduckpress.com). In 2003, Moon Canoe, a children’s picture book was published. This book was bought and translated into French by Le Canotier, and released as Canoë Lune (2005). He is currently writing two pages a day to generate the rough draft of his next novel. Bill Bunn lives near Millarville, Alberta, Canada. He and his wife, Linda, take care of three teenagers, two dogs, two cats, and two hives of bees. Bill teaches English at Mount Royal University. https://www.facebook.com/billbunnauthor
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