Mucking out after the dragon

MH900053412I thought I had The Last Good Knight all cleaned up. I was SURE I had it as straight as could be! Many eyes have looked at it, and still there are places that need attention!  Fortunately, Carlie Cullen is applying her red pen to the hitches and halts in the flow, without changing the story or the structure since it has been published for so long.  It’s a good story, probably my favorite but it has had a rough life.

This is the one tale that never had a real line-edit, and I was so new to this business that I thought the brief once-over my former publisher gave it was a true edit.  They were new at the business too, and were learning a lot as they went along. It was a good edit, in that it cleaned up certain obvious things, but it was very quick and not a true, in-depth edit. I was not involved in the actual edit, as the changes that were made were not offered to me for my approval. Thus, getting that book re-edited so that it reads more easily is somewhat like mucking out after a dragon.  Just about the the time I think it’s all done, there is another steaming pile of…goodness…look at the time, I should be cooking dinner.

Having worked with two editors since leaving the former publisher, I now see what was NOT done for The Last Good Knight the first time, and thank god, one of my editors, Carlie Cullen is giving it her attention. The biggest challenge is dealing with these things and moving on, instead of banging my head on my desk in frustration when she points out something I should have seen.

But that is why these sorts of edits are SO critical. We, as authors, only see what we THINK we wrote. This is something I can’t stress strongly enough–get an independent eye on your work.  If you have a friend who has worked as a paralegal for her entire career, proof-reading lawyers briefs as Irene Luvaul did, even better!  If you can’t find an editor you can afford, you can do this: Print your work out one chapter at a time, and sit down with the yellow high-lighter. take an envelope and go down the page one line at a time. You will catch a great deal that way!

I don’t feel nearly so badly about TLGK once I take a close look at my earlier works though – those tales who began their lives on performa-630-192the old Mac  in the mid nineties. Once they were transferred to disc and then transferred again to PC they were put away and forgotten.  Some have great storylines, and really fun characters, but I would have to completely rewrite them in order to make a silk purse out of the sow’s  ear they are right now.  There must be an entire library of badly written prose on those old mac floppies.

There are many flaws in my earlier works, especially the ones going back to my days of pecking them out on the old IBM Selectric.They are rife with misspellings, poor grammar, clichés, head-hopping, and hokey dialogue.  But underneath all the bad fluff I see the bones of the story I was so proud of having written in the first place, and I realize that there was spark there.  This is why I say don’t be discouraged by your first initial draft of any work.  All it needs is a lot more attention from you and the eye of an editor.

IBM_SelectricI was once a singer in a heavy metal band, and the opening lines of one of the songs I wrote went like this:

“It’s a cold and lonely morning, the sky dawns bland and white.

The emptiness inside my heart is as chilling as the night.”

It was cheerful little tune (NOT!) but with my ex-husband’s awesome guitar solos it was quite popular among our friends. We were very hip and very serious about the craft when we played. Of course I was 26 at the time, and quite sure I was the next female Ronnie James Dio. The band as a whole took ourselves far too seriously, and it soon got to the point where it wasn’t fun anymore.    It was a long time before I realized exactly why we fell apart the way we did, when we were having such a good time playing  small gigs as a local band. We became too caught up with the art of the music, instead of getting on with it and we forgot why we were doing it in the first place.

I admit that I don’t need serious anymore.  I don’t need to take my writing so seriously that it’s not fun.

With that said, I do need to turn out the best finished product I am able to do, and that means allowing someone I trust to look at it and say, “This just doesn’t read right. Maybe if you change this a little….”   I am not married to my prose, although I am sure it is the finest prose  in the world. Oh, look…more dragon poo.


Filed under Adventure, Books, Dragons, Fantasy, Humor, Literature, mythology, writer, writing

3 responses to “Mucking out after the dragon

  1. Stop banging your head on the desk – you’ll break it!! Teehee! 🙂 [Sorry, that’s my weird English humour coming out!]

    Being an author as well as an editor means I see both sides of this situation. I strongly echo your sentiments about having your work seen by a fresh pair of eyes and having it edited makes such a huge difference to the end result! If money is tight, try and find an editor who will offer a payment plan – it’s money well spent!

    I, like you, enjoy my writing (and editing) tremendously. I do take it seriously from the point of view that I want to put the best quality books out into the world that I can (whether mine or a client’s), but if I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t do it!

    As for the dragon poo, you’re okay while you can use a shovel to clear it, but when you find you need a bulldozer . . . 😀


  2. Found some the other day – must be the same dragon. Love this post, Connie! I was a bass player in a very amateur rock band and knew I was a bass version of Jimi Hendrix, but it was hard on the teeth – the damn strings were too thick!.

    Keep the spark sparking 🙂