Okay, so I'm not professing to be a professional editor. I worked my freaking tail off to find one of those for my books, so I could suck. (LOL! Not really. I mean, I still work hard to make my books the best they can be.)
But nothing compares to having an objective, professional, extra set of eyes. As someone who's now been through two books, both of which required some pretty heavy edits in spots, I'm going to give you the low-down of what I've learned.
Now, both you and I would be delusional to think this is a comprehensive list. In fact, I might do a blog series on this or something.
But let's start with the top 3 things I've come to realize about my writing and how to make my books better BEFORE I send them to my agent/editor.
1. Don't be indulgent. You know those scenes you write just so the main characters can kiss? Yeah, you do. I do too, because I've written them in the past.
Take those out. Kissing scenes are fantastic--don't get me wrong--but they have to be carefully placed, and very rarely do we need a whole blow-by-blow of such actions. (Consider your genre, please.)
You know those scenes you write where you think you're being all clever? Yeah, you do. I do too, because I put them in my books too.
Take those out--or at least consider them very carefully. EVERYTHING in the story should be there for the sake of the story--NOT so the author can feel clever. I've learned to put my indulgences in my pet project.
The books I'm writing for publication (or submission) are indulgent-free. Every word I write in them goes toward establishing 4 things: plot, character, world, or emotion. If it doesn't, it doesn't belong.
Trust me, when I get my edit letters, those are the first things my editor calls me on.
2. Relationships can drive plot. I'm a lover of fast-paced books. It's a struggle for me to insert setting and world-building. I like "things to happen" and all the time.
I'm also very angsty. I like to pour that into my characters, and use it to drive my plot forward. This may sound basic, but it's hard to do.
Sometimes, we read books where there's only relationship things going on. And then the next chapter is plot things. Then relationship. Then plot.
I think it's better to layer the relationship INTO the plot, so they must co-exist. My editor thinks so too, as she's always calling me on the half-baked relationships I put in my books. One of my heaviest edits is always in the relationship realm.
I'm really trying to think about the relationships in my new books in advance, and USE THOSE RELATIONSHIPS to BUILD THE STORY.
3. Take the time to find your character's voice. I find my voices overlapping, and it's a problem for my editor (and me), trust me. She doesn't want a book that has language exactly like my previous book.
So do some writing exercises to find your character's voice. You won't be sorry, and neither will the agent/editor you're submitting your work to. (I have a post about this here. Might be worth a read.)
So there. Sorry this is such a long post. Maybe I should've split it up today. But now that I'm drafting like crazy again, these are the top 3 things I'm trying to do BEFORE my editor calls me on them.
What are your top 3 editing tips?