word craft



pho­to: Igor Mojzes | Dreamstime.com

I had been work­ing on a book for at least a year. It had reached the stage when the edi­tor agreed it was all but done. I did more work—that “all but done”—and sent it in, but felt dis­sat­is­fied. “There’s some­thing not right,” I sug­gest­ed. “Tell what me what you think it might be.”

The edi­tor respond­ed by telling me she was going to share it with two oth­ers, an edi­tor, and “a very bright intern.”  She added, “I’ve read the book too many times, myself.” Oh, bless the hon­est editor!

When I heard back, a sug­ges­tion was passed on from that intern. It wasn’t even a sug­ges­tion. The intern was point­ing out that it wasn’t clear what the moti­va­tion was for a key char­ac­ter who does some­thing upon which the whole plot rests.

The moment I read that, not only did I real­ize the crit­i­cism was right, I was able to sup­ply that motivation—maybe ten or fif­teen lines—very quick­ly. As soon as I did, the whole book shifted—for the better.

What can I sug­gest about the experience?

I have no objec­tions to self-pub­lish­ing. All writ­ers do self-edit­ing but to only do self-edit­ing is high­ly prob­lem­at­i­cal. Oth­er eyes are obligatory.

Gen­er­al­ly speak­ing, in our sys­tem of pub­lish­ing, it is only the author’s name that appears on a book.  Except it is nev­er real­ly true. Many peo­ple con­tribute to the cre­ation of a pub­lished book—or should.

Then, too, it was only because I had worked on the book for a long time that I was able to imme­di­ate­ly per­ceive that the sug­ges­tion was right, And I could quick­ly sup­ply a fix.

This is to say that one of the fac­tors that con­tribute to the mak­ing of a book is time. It may seem odd to say—but I believe it deeply—it takes time to under­stand your own book.

Oth­er eyes. Time. Key parts of writing.

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