Thursday, May 23, 2013

Improving a story through Content Edit

The past few weeks I've been busy working with Red Adept Publishing (RAP) on edits for my upcoming book, Stone and Silt.

As a new author, I've been fascinated with how a novel goes from initial draft to a published book. With RAP, the manuscript goes through the phases of Content Edit, Line Edit, Proofreading, and Formatting before being released.

For the curious, let me describe my experience with Content Edit.

After I submitted my draft manuscript to RAP, and it was approved by an acquisitions editor, the publisher assigned the book to Michelle, a content editor. She conducted a thorough review, pointing out areas that could be improved in character development, storyline, plot, pacing, and description.

Just how thorough was this?

Well, let me put it this way: my draft at that time was about 160 pages, and after reviewing it Michelle sent me a document of notes that was about 50 pages long. It was incredible, and full of smart suggestions on improving the story. She also marked up the pages of the draft with specific ideas.

In addressing her comments, I added about 15,000 words to the story. It improved considerably as a result.

Here's one specific area in which Content Edit improved the book: POV. In my initial draft, I was inconsistent with how I handled the Point of View of the narration. At times I'd be inside the main character's head. Other times I'd zoom out and offer a historical perspective. In other scenes I'd be writing from some third person's perspective.

Michelle taught me to keep the POV consistent... to tell the story completely from Nikaia's viewpoint. I learned a lot from that. In the draft as it is now, the reader gets to see the story unfold as if they're perched on Nikaia's shoulder through every scene. It's an effective device that helps put the reader "in the moment" through all 30 chapters of the story.

What impressed me most of all was how invested Michelle became in the book. She cared about it, believed in it, as much as I did. The energy that she put into the book was encouraging and flattering. It  motivated me to go through the work necessary to make the story the best it possibly can be.

Content Edit is now complete for Stone and Silt, and I'm now entering into the Line Edit phase. I'll give an update on that in the next few days. Getting closer to release!

Stone and Silt is scheduled to be published in August 2013.