Commas, and quotations, and syntax, oh my! I went into writing my book thinking I had a leg up since I was an English major undergrad, taught high school English, and wrote tightly worded grants that actually were funded. But today I am counting my blessings that my husband’s sister by birth and mine by choice and ‘adoption’ actually edits and writes for a living!
Last night I got back the first two parts of The Call from her. (For the sake of Spell Check on my computer I had to break it into three parts.) Talk about precision and missing nothing, from the smallest grammar issue to calling me on modern language to requiring better descriptive adjectives! And lucky for me, she is nice and loves me, so she also told me about the parts she liked and where I captured her interest!
Publishing these days, as I have said previously, requires a finely honed product. Linda has helped me immeasurably. Of course even for those not similarly blessed, this editing is probably not a step that can be missed, since even the best writer misses things within their own work…and I missed a lot! From my research I would say, while it may be possible to win over an agent or publisher who likes your storyline or premise, many will not be willing to do the scrutiny if any significant editing is needed so finding a way, or a person, or several people to pick at the text for the sake of improving it maximizes your hope of winning your way to a publication.
Of course editing is not for the timid or the defensive. Be prepared to second guess yourself and question if you even should write, but then get to work looking at the suggested changes. Some will startle you by how obvious they are and make you wonder how you missed them. Other suggested corrections may not fit for you, for your ‘voice’ or style, but try them on for size. A little ‘facelift’ can’t hurt, as long as you make it cosmetic. At the same time, stay true to your own intent. A good editor is not trying to make you into ‘Michael Jackson!’