New Edits for an Old Story

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the arrival of first round edits for Whippersnapper foiling my plans to spend Labor Day weekend working on my next novel. Two days later, first round edits for the re-release of No Good Deed (formerly After Christmas Eve) appeared in my inbox. Two sets of edits to work on in addition to my duties for the day job freaked me out a bit.

Some authors have no problem moving back and forth between several different stories. Not me. Immersing myself in a story takes time. Since I was already up to my eyeballs in Whippersnapper, I decided to ignore No Good Deed until I finished those edits.

Going from my fourth novel (Whippersnapper) to my second novel (No Good Deed) was a step back in time — and not just the fifty-year difference in the time periods the stories are set in. My writing has improved since 2013 when my second novel was originally released.

Long before penning my first novel, I’d become a grammar nazi. Becoming a published author raised the bar. With each trip through the editing process, I learn something new. With so much to learn, that’s unlikely to change any time soon. This shit’s complicated.

My goal as an author is to tell the story in as few words as possible. Getting rid of junk is an important part of the editing process too. Whether a word, scene, or chapter, if it doesn’t advance the story, it needs to go. I’m getting better at this, but still have much to learn.

When I dove into No Good Deed edits, the first thing I noticed was an abundance of the word “that.” Last year, I wrote about “that” being one of my pet peeves. The editor added still more. A lot of the time I spent working on edits went into fixing awkward sentences so the word was no longer needed. We’ll see how many the editor puts back in.

I’ve stopped using negative constructions. The negative isn’t wrong. I just prefer the more positive statement. For example, “he didn’t do anything about the leak” becomes “he did nothing about the leak.”  Same idea in five words rather than seven (eight if you count the contraction as two words).

Another improvement in my writing is a bit hard to explain. Some actions from the character who’s point of view the story is being told from are unnecessary because they’re obvious. “He wondered how he’d come so far” becomes “How had he come so far?” Again, both are technically correct, but the second option is cleaner.

No Good Deed has now been through all three rounds of edits. I still have one more round of edits to go for Whippersnapper, and then it’s on to Happy Independence Day. Stay tuned for cover reveals and release dates.