A Word on Editing
Humble apologies for the lack of posts recently. What with Easter and friends visiting, it’s been pretty hectic the last few weeks. At the moment I’m working away on the edits of the third Amy Green book – Bridesmaid Blitz (out in Oct). I had an email from my editor today and I’d like to share it with you as it’s lovely.
Writers work away in this funny vacuum, not knowing if what they are producing is hitting the mark. I am very lucky to have two editors in Walker Books, both of whom really know their stuff. After a pretty stiff and thorough rewrite – after a very frank editorial meeting in London with both of them – I submitted Amy Green 3 mark 2 nervously, hoping they would like what I’d done.
I’d hacked the middle out of the book. It was veering away from Amy’s story and I had to bring it back and the only way I could do this was to rewrite a good chunk of the main plot. So I got rid of about 1/3 of the book (about 17,000 words) and created lots of new scenes.
There were a lot of different subplots in the original draft and I got rid of several of these – including a school production of Grease that I was rather fond of – but by tearing them out, gave the main story (Amy’s story) room to breathe.
Luckily my editors liked what I’d done. However there are still three reasonably big plot problems/blips that I now have to iron out.
In the editorial letter (I didn’t get one for the 1st rewrite as there was so much to do!), my editor has broken it down into sections – bless – to make things easy for me.
I have to 1/ build up the Seth/Polly subplot – which I’ve just done. 2/ Work on a particular agony aunt letter that doesn’t quite click. And 3/ work on Amy’s relationship with – look away if you’re an Amy Green fan, plot spoiler coming up – relationship with her new baby sister, Grace.
I spent this week working on the Seth/Polly subplot – researching breast cancer, treatment, drugs and clinical trials. Then I wrote new scenes using the research. But here’s the thing: I had no idea whether I’d overwritten the scenes (they are pretty sad – but cancer in all its forms is hardly a walk in the park!), used too much or not enough technical information; whether they held the reader’s attention or if they were too slow moving. I’m always aware that young readers have a hell of a lot of other demands on their time and, above all, I aim to hold their interest.
So I sent the new chapters to my editor for some feedback – and here’s a snippet of the email she sent me:
Wow! These new chapters are absolutely brilliant! I love them. There is so much emotion in there, and all the facts about the cancer/drug trial etc are really interesting – you’ve gone into just the right level of detail. It all feels so much more real now. Never mind Amy, I feel like Niagara Falls! (Amy cries a lot in the chapters)
Right, I’m off to mop up my mascara!
It made my week!
I’m lucky to have editors who care about my writing and who really get what I’m trying to do. I’m truly blessed. To the gods of writing up there, I thank you for bringing us together.
I wish you all such kind and thoughtful editors.
Yours in writing,