First Round Edits

on Sep 28, 2015 by Michael Rupured

Labor Day weekend, I took off an extra day from the day job. Four days is a nice block of time to get some writing done. I planned to make progress on my new mystery series. The first book in the series — my fifth novel — is a bit more complicated than previous projects, so the going has been slow.

As always happens when I have a plan, fate intervened. The long-awaited and much dreaded first round of edits for Whippersnapper appeared in my inbox on Friday. I don’t usually dread edits, but this time, I was worried about how much work would be involved.

Because they are “structural” and focus on the story, first round edits can be difficult. Changing a finished story is often a challenge. When I signed the contract for Whippersnapper, I happily agreed to a “developmental” edit to beef up the romance. Since the romance is central to the story, she did both edits at the same time.

Once upon a time, editors marked up a hardcopy of the manuscript and wrote notes in the margins. Now they use word processing software with “Track Changes” to do the same thing digitally. Mom gets defensive about edits. “I hope they’re not making you change too much.” Some authors react the same way. Not me. I welcome the input.

Structural/development edits mostly take the form of questions and suggestions that appear as bubbles in the right margin and are linked to a specific word, phrase, sentence, or paragraph in the manuscript. For Whippersnapper, the majority revolved around opportunities to elaborate upon romantic thoughts/feelings of the two main characters.

Working through and responding to all the editor’s comments and suggestions took two full weeks. The majority of changes were minor — a word or two here and there. I added maybe a dozen new paragraphs scattered throughout the manuscript and a new chapter. She had more suggestions for the new parts, and after I addressed those, came back with a few more.

For the next two rounds, two more editors will go over the manuscript. They’ll focus on wording, grammar, and punctuation, but might also make a suggestion or two to strengthen an already strong story. I can’t wait for you to read it, which if all goes well, should be possible in January. I’ll keep you posted.