by Alice Day
I recently blogged about how I worked with a writer who wrote, and published, her first novel. When working on her second novel, she called me again. She had expected writing the second one would be easier, that she would know what to do. She was surprised to find that wasn’t the case. When writing the second novel, she said, she had to relearn pretty much everything (most writers agree with this assessment). Her first novel had been meticulously researched, and although the second novel was set in a historical period, the story felt closer to the author, more personal, less historical. Also, she had started it many years before her “first” novel, though hadn’t finished it then.
She contacted me—early on in the process of her writing it/rewriting it—to brainstorm narrative with her. This is something that I love to do—help an author develop a plot structure for the work. After revising the manuscript for several months, she called me again to read the full manuscript, write margin notes, and discuss it with her. After reading the revised novel, I needed to identify its strengths and problems. (Identifying strengths, by the way, is just as important as identifying what needs to be developed.) Because the novel had been written at different times, the tone shifted in places, so I pointed that out, and we discussed which tone would be best for the book. Also, the focus of the narrative was unbalanced, so we discussed that and a few other issues. After more brainstorming and feedback, the author revised her manuscript (and did an excellent job revising it, I might add).
She called me once more to line edit it, which I did, and I also gave her some content feedback (though her revision was wonderful, there were a few things still to look at…There are always a few things. The writing process is long and arduous but unquestionably worth it). After another revision, she sent the manuscript to the agent who loved the revisions and wanted to represent it (after asking the author to revise one more thing). The manuscript is being sent to publishers as we speak! Fingers crossed.
About the Author
Alice Day’s specialty is fiction editing. She has worked with numerous award-winning authors (authors who have won the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Award) as well as first-time novelists. She does detailed manuscript evaluations, as well as developmental/substantive editing. She is also a skilled copy editor.