FICTION: Editing, Research & Re-Drafting

When writing fiction for commercial sale, writers often forget that the most important person is THE READER.  The story is no longer for the author but for the audience.  If the goal is to make money or get a publishing deal, then it is important to put the reader first because s/he can make or break your book with reviews, word of mouth, et cetera.

This naturally means that the author has to come second.  This is where the phrase "murder your darlings" comes into play.  It refers to a situation where the author has written a passage or situation that they absolutely love and do not want to give up.  However, it may detract from the reader's experience of the book.  How do you solve the dilemma?  The passage in question has to either be significantly revised or cut from the final manuscript. 

This can be a bitter pill for some authors to swallow but, if they want to maximize the accessibility of their work, they have to do it. Otherwise, the manuscript may as well stay in a drawer for the author's personal enjoyment.
So, since the reader has to come first, the writer has to do everything s/he can to make the reader's job easier.

What is the reader's job?  To be entertained by the story you tell.

Sounds easy, right?  It is, when a book is well-written. 

However, it is much more difficult when there are problems in how the author tries to communicate his/her vision to the reader.

Unfortunately, readers don't want to have to work to be entertained. They are no different from you or me.

Think of it this way:  The reader has probably already worked all day at his/her job and just wants to relax by escaping into a fictional world. 

Given that, it's much easier for readers to toss aside a difficult book and move onto the next one than to stick it out and hope a book improves.
Once that happens, you've lost that reader--probably forever.

Obviously, you don't want that to happen.  That's where editing comes into play.

Remember, the reader only knows what you tell them.  If you haven't communicated information to them clearly, it may as well not exist.

By the same token, readers don't need or want to know every minute detail of the world you've created.  It is the writer's job to give the reader only the information s/he needs to follow and enjoy the story in a way that doesn't shatter the illusion. 

Doing this isn't easy and it takes time.  You need to draft, redraft and redraft again.

The reader wants to get lost in the world you've built.  S/he won't like anything that jars them out of that world. 

So, it is the writer's job to ensure that s/he doesn't introduce anything that shatters the reader's illusion.  Some things that break the spell are:

  • Grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors
  • Extended descriptions, particularly technical ones
  • Long, wordy sentences that are difficult to follow and understand
  • Confusing terminology
  • Passive voice
  • Inappropriate word choice
  • Unrealistic actions or responses from the characters
  • Implausible situations
  • Poor characterization or character development 
  • Loose ends
  • Inconsistency
  • Anything not directly related to the plot that the average person would find offensive (e.g. gratuitous violence, swearing or graphic sex) 
  • Inaccuracies in factual information or the application of techniques (e.g. contending that half-brothers could be an exact DNA match to each other)
Thus, our goal is to root out all of these problems to make your manuscript as enjoyable for as many readers as possible. However, the author has the final say on whether our suggestions are implemented in the final, published version.
We provide a wide variety of re-drafting, editing, proofreading and Beta reading services for authors of fiction.

FIRST DRAFT TRIAGE:  $0.05 per word
This is the most intensive of the editing options and is intended for novice authors who not only require a literary edit but also significant amount of redrafting of their work to render it in publishable condition. Often new authors do not know how to even start this process, so we do it for them.  This is a wide-ranging service, which covers plot, clarity, parsimony, cohesion, pace, comprehensibility, characterization and continuity as well as the other areas covered by the literary edit.  The intent is for the author to learn how to redraft their own work, having first received an example with the redraft done for them.  This is recommended for flash fiction, short stories, single chapters or book blurbs, although full-length books may be accepted after negotiation.  This service requires a completed first draft.  We do not finish incomplete drafts or serve as ghost writers. First Draft Triage typically can take anywhere from 1-12 weeks, depending on word count.  Timeframes will be negotiated with the author.

Literary Edit (Content and Copy): $0.025 per word
The Literary Edit combines a full line edit with content editing. The focus is very much on structure, plot, characterization, continuity, grammar, syntax, spelling, voice, and pace. You will receive detailed notes in the margins, as well as a separate report, which includes first impressions, and may include suggestions for redrafting. Works will first undergo the content edit.  This will be sent back to the author for re-drafting in light of the recommendations.  When the author is completed with these and satisfied with the content of the manuscript, s/he returns it to us for the copy edit. Literary edits typically take 6-8 weeks (not counting the author re-draft time), depending on word count. Timeframes will be negotiated with the author.

Content Edit: $0.016 per word
Focuses on plot, characterization, style, pace, narrative voice, continuity and structure. The content edit involves three read-throughs of the text. Note: This does not include corrections to spelling or grammar. You will be provided with detailed notes in the margins of the text and a summary. Content edits typically take 4-6 weeks.

Full Line Edit: $0.016 per word
Line by line scrutiny of grammar, spelling, repetition, word choice, capitalization etc. Issues such as dangling participles, comma splices, split infinitives will be highlighted, and suggestions will be offered for corrections. There will be multiple sweeps of the text. Unless otherwise instructed, I will be following the Chicago Manual of Style. Note: This service does not include content issues, such as plot holes, continuity errors etc. Line edits typically take 4-6 weeks.

Editing Author Redrafts: $0.008 per word
Following a redraft, literary, content, line, or copy edit, any redrafted passages may be submitted for further editing. Each re-submission will be charged by the word. This is particularly useful for fine-tuning your manuscript. You may submit passages of any length, from a single line to the entire manuscript.

Final Proofreading (after using the Literary Edit or Line Editing service): $0.008 per word
Without using our Literary Editing or Copy Editing services first: $0.016 per word.  Prior to using this service, your manuscript should have been professionally copy-edited as proofreading is concerned with picking up any human errors that may have crept in during the editing/revising process, as well as ensuring stylistic consistency. If you still have concerns about grammar, capitalization, style etc., you should arrange for a line edit before booking your proofread. No content issues are looked at during the proofread.

BETA READING SERVICE: $0.005 per word
This is a single read-through for overall flow and consistency from the reader's perspective. I will provide a one page report with my impressions of the story, identifying any issues I feel impede its telling (e.g. inconsistencies). All manuscripts should already be professionally edited and proofread prior to submission for beta reading. I will not be correcting typos and other errors with this service, although I will include any recommendations in that respect in the report. This is NOT an editorial or proofreading service.

This is a critique of the first five pages (only) of your manuscript in the format specified below. I'll provide you with notes in the margins and a report of no less than 500 words on content and copy issues, including but not restricted to: plot, pace, time, place, person, point of view, themes, prose style, and structure. This entry-level service can be considered the "test edit" or give you a place to start from when editing your own work. If you book an edit of the full manuscript with us afterwards, the price of the critique will be deducted from the cost.

Please submit in the following format:

Times New Roman 12 pt font
Double line spacing
Standard margin widths
Text left aligned

If you are unsure of the above, please email me the five pages as you have them. I will put them in the correct format and tell you where the critique will start and stop.

FICTION RESEARCH: To be negotiated by project 
Many writers just want to tell a good story.  Research is often the last thing they want to have to undertake, but they know it is a necessary part of maintaining credibility with the reader.  What do you do?

If you have specific questions about the world in which your story takes place, we can answer them.

Are you writing a crime fiction novel but have no clue if you have been accurate in your portrayal of the forensic analysis?  Is your historical piece undermined by confusion about the social customs of the time?  Are you unsure as to how long it would really take to get from Ely Cathedral to Castle Rising on horseback?  Do you need to know when CODIS came into being or about the admissibility of forensic odontology evidence in court?  Do you want to check whether the rank and organizational structure of your Sci-Fi paramilitary organization is comparable to what exists in real life?

We can research all these kinds of questions and more.  With over twenty years of research experience, we will get you the reliable information you need to make your sure your story is accurate.

To engage this service, a list of specific questions will be provided to us.  These questions will be academically researched and answered.  Time frames and rates will vary with each project and be negotiated with the author.

1 comment:

  1. I see this business is quite profitable! if you are not able to proofread your book, will show you how!