CUTTING OUT THE HEART

Cutting out the heart, august blog title As a writer, a real fear of oblivion is EDITING.

Looking at what you wrote, believed in, and sweated over… isn’t easy taking a red pen to slash words—written out of passion—to tell a phenomenal story.

 

What are some words of wisdom for the dreaded editing process?

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, and kill your darlings.”—Stephen King

“Edit your manuscript until your fingers bleed and you have memorized every last word. Then, when you are certain you are on the verge of insanity. . .  edit one more time!”—CK Webb

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”—Earnest Hemmingway

Toni Morrison: “Write, Erase, Do it over.”

Maya Angelo—“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.”—George Orwell

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”—Mark Twain

“I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.”—Truman Capote

“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”—Thomas Jefferson

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”—Barack Obama

Back in my non-famous world, I edited, countless times, my current novel:  The Last Merry Go Round, until each word was branded into my head. Did I want to be famous? Is fame the best reward? I’ve said numerous times, “Getting an agent to say, ‘I loved your story. I love your voice.’” will be my validation. I read somewhere… Do what you love and the money will follow. Well, that sums it up.

At the HEART of it all, I believed a page-turning story about a marriage and dark secrets would (easily) bring me an agent. HOW WRONG I WAS!!!!! It wasn’t the story. The comments were the same… to bring me to an agent’s attention. I needed a professional editor, who could revise and strip my story of all the crap weighing it down.

I will share a professional editor’s comments that my LONDON AGENT referred me to.  I admit, what got me this agent’s attention was a polished query, synopsis, and the first 25 pages of The Last Merry Go Round.  I was requested to send the whole manuscript. SHE LOVED MY VOICE. 

However, I was in need of a professional story editor. . . this is what my agent told (suggested) me, in order to make a gripping story the best it could be. I used her referral. Below is a snippet of what he said—that I believe will achieve a best seller—a phenomenal story.


editing a story image for august blogHi Cheryl,

I know it’s late but I wanted to try and get this sent over to you asap in case you had time to look at it over the weekend.

Okay, first thing to say is thank you for choosing me to work with you on your manuscript – I remember how daunting it is to release something you’ve probably worked on for months or even years, to a complete stranger, not knowing what they’re going to say. I always consider it a privilege when people ask me to work with them.

So, what to say? I genuinely enjoyed reading your work and I can honestly say that I experienced the full gamut of emotions as I worked my way through it. I felt angry that someone could treat another human being in such a way, I often felt embarrassed to be a man reading it and I felt sad that women must feel trapped and unable to find a way out even though I struggled to understand why she remained with him and endured so much for so long. It was a truly harrowing yet enlightening story that has most certainly opened my eyes and mind. Best of all, I never saw the ending coming, not even an inkling and it was fitting that the mother should be the one to deliver the coup de grace. Well done.

A sign of a good story is if the reader becomes invested in some of the characters and I think that is what struck me the most about your story – the very strong characterization, especially with regards to Leah and Helen, both of whom I despised. Nina on the other hand and the flamboyant Cleo, were excellent at the other end of the spectrum.

You also had some great lines and turn of phrase which I loved. One of my favorites was:-

“Ruby dumps my future into a neat pile of three words.” – This is beautiful, concise, descriptive and original. There were others like it, but none so good.

Okay, attached is obviously your amended manuscript. I apologize if I’m telling you something you already know, but my corrections/suggestions have been marked up in red and if you click on the “Track changes” tab you can work your way through them one at a time either Accepting or Declining them. Simple stuff.

Similarly, you have a very economic way of writing which gives the story a nice uncluttered feel and moves it along at a decent pace. However, there are times where this doesn’t work and I’ve had to expand sentences with conjunctions and the like just to make it flow better.

Okay, I think that’s about it. I hope you are pleased with what you find and are able to see why I suggested various things and are pleased with the final outcome. I will advise Sarah that the book is back with you and that at some point you will no doubt be getting in contact with her.

Jeff

 

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