Home > Editing, Thinking, Writing > A Fool For a Client

A Fool For a Client

As a freelance editor, I am often reminded of the old saw about lawyers as soon as I sit down in front of my own work.

I just got my first round of edits from CP. Nearly every freaking one of them is about an area I knew wasn’t quite right, but any attempts at tinkering weakened the pace of the story.

Just one example: My hero and heroine have just been told a story by their best friend, one that sounds absolutely insane. Totally implausible. The thing that makes them at least tentatively buy it is that their friend is genuinely devastated. Also, in attempt to prove the veracity of his story, their friend mentions some highly intimate details about the heroine, details the hero didn’t know.

When the friend walks away for a bit, the hero can’t resist… er… double checking.

The scene was written cleanly, paced nicely, had nice work showing the H/h are very emotionally connected… but something about it felt weird.

If you’ve already spotted the problem, you’re one up on me. Fortunately, the editor caught it right off. For the characters to have sex at that moment in time, well, it felt callous. Totally at odds with the close friendship I set up for the three of them throughout the rest of the novella. The solution was simple – build on the existing emotional connection early in the scene to show that the H/h have been shaken by their friend’s revelation, even if they don’t realize it, and are using sex to reaffirm their connection.

I know I said this before, and that many people disagree with me. But I truly believe that endless revision on your own accomplishes nothing. A couple polish passes, sure. Let the manuscript set a few days so you can get some distance before one of those passes, absolutely. I personally go through a self-editing checklist to prune out adverbs, adjectives, and exclamation points. I even highlight any examples of “telling, not showing” to see if I can impart the same information with action instead of internal monologue. Certainly I recommend that process to my friends.

But there comes a point where you just need an outside editor’s eyeballs.

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