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  • Writer's pictureG R Matthews

Editing or rewriting?

This'll be a short one, I hope. We'll see.

Today, 13th June, I finished the first edit/rewrite of Seven Deaths of an Empire. Now, what I mean by that really is the first edit (rewrite?) of the book based on the editor's notes and ideas. All of my own drafts and redrafts (and for this book there were not as many as normal - as you'll see from the last post) were completed before I sent the manuscript in. So this the first time, outside of my trusted reader, someone has seen the whole book, read it, and jotted down their thoughts.

And by jotted down, I mean 9 typed pages of ideas, concepts, plot holes, character motivations, suggestions, additions, roman history, and questions.

I'd read a twitter thread by David Dalglish (it is just to the right -->) a day or two before this letter (and edited manuscript) arrived in my email. In that thread, he'd argued on the editor's behalf and urged calm on the part of the new author. Take time, absorb the message, reflect on the comments for a few days before you make any decisions, before you talk to the editor. Helpfully mine also suggested whiskey - so you know the working relationship is coming from the same place!

My day-to-day profession constantly stresses self-reflection, because if you don't do it, your boss, or worse OfSTED, will do it for you - and they'll quite happily point out the myriad ways your whole teaching career could be much improved after just spending fifteen minutes in one class while the pupils get on calmly with their learning. Anyway... my point... erm... ah yes, my point was that I am quite used to getting feedback.

A few days later, I put together an email response - with my ideas, thoughts and answers to some of those question- and the fact that I agreed with 95% of the comments. And I really did agree with 95% of it - the remaining 5% is small stuff; world-building/history stuff, that perhaps I needed to make clearer as the book progresses. We scheduled a phone call to discuss and from the entirety of that we had a plan of action. Plus a recommendation to watch The Last Airbender - Anime not the film.

I am happy to say I am into Series 2 now.

Back to the editing/rewriting question. There were some fantastic ideas about a few of the characters in the book; some tweaks about motivation and actions. It is those bits I've spent the last two weeks or so editing or rewriting... to me it has been rewriting. While a lot, 99%, has stayed the same, there are deletions and additions (an extra 5k or so over the whole book) and much of that is around those characters. Some conversations have changed to reflect motivation and actions - it isn't so much editing (correcting, polishing) as it is making changes (rewriting). The book needs another pass, by me, or two to tweak more ideas and drip in some more world-building stuff (that 5% mentioned above), but I'm happier with those two characters now - the book is better, the relationships clearer and motivations more fitting. In conclusion, listen to your editor - they want your book to great too!

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