Saturday, March 29, 2008

Article: Editing

Repost: Editing Is Your Friend

As an editor, I find many writers have either edited their work too much or too little.
The key is to edit well enough to create a great story, but not too much that your work no longer has heart.
A lot of novel authors believe the golden word limit is 100 000. This is not always the case. Many publishers, big and small, prefer the word limit to be around 90k or even under. One of my publishers is UK hardback publisher Robert Hale Ltd. Their word count is approx 73 000 words. Always check the publisher’s guidelines, if possible.
Now some writers will be horrified that their beloved opus is a massive 300k words, and they refuse to cut a single word from it, but honestly think of the bigger picture — money. Publishers are companies out to make money, some foster careers, too, but mainly it is money and it is silly to think otherwise. For them to make money they have to create marketable books that will sell. If your book is a massive tome, do you think that the average publisher is going spend an awful lot of time and money on something that will be priced above all the competition?
When writers are confronted by the prospect of cutting words, they panic and think it can’t be done without destroying plots and characters.
In actual fact, most writers will learn that there is a skill to trimming word count. Once that skill is learnt, they can apply it to other works, and also this will change the way they write future manuscripts.
Sometimes, the act of cutting words from the manuscript is simply a case of re-writing the odd paragraph, of eliminating passive writing or over telling, deleting repeated or redundant words. Look for instances where you have explained the same thing more than once, but perhaps in different ways or by different character’s viewpoint. There are many good websites built to aid writers in writing the best work they can. I have a list on my website of several such websites.

In the end, write the story of your heart, but edit it with a business mind and the chances are you’ll have a better prospect of becoming published and the journey with your future editor may be also smoother.
Good Luck!
Anne Whitfield, author and editor.
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