This week I am busy doing the rewrite for Crimson Eve, third in the Kanner Lake series. This is the book I finished last November. (It releases this coming September.)
Guess what I’m seeing. The usual suspects.
Nothing earth-shaking in the rewrite. No story structure changes, not one scene I have to throw out or redo. Everything’s basically OK, except two major issues:
1. Voice. All my characters sound too much alike. It’s my own author’s voice coming through, rather than their own. Not good.
2. Overwriting. Just too much fancy description. As I showed you in last week’s scene from Coral Moon—cut, cut, cut.
Really, the big issue is voice. As I correct the voice for each character, I naturally cut the extra description.
What astounds me is that these same issues come up every time. Why can’t I just get them right for once? Each time I write a new book, I think, “I will not over-describe, I will not over-describe.” Now look at me—cutting away.
Guess I could look on the bright side. My story structure’s strong. I don’t have trouble with pacing, dialogue, tension, POV, etc. So … man, if I could just fix the voice/description thing, I’d be great.
It’s amazing the way this process works. I let the manuscript sit after I’ve finished it. Don’t look at it at all. By the time I receive the editorial letter, at least a month has passed, usually longer. I can look at the manuscript with fresh eyes. Still, even my fresh eyes won’t see everything. Then I read something in the editorial letter—and boing! The problems just jump right out at me. Suddenly every page looks to me like a beginner wrote it. I mean it; the stuff’s awful. “Oh, sheesh, what was I thinking?”
That insightful editor is what I need to open my eyes. Can’t imagine not having a good editor. Actually, I can, and the thought isn’t pretty. Not for me or anyone else. I read too many novels that make me question where the editor was.
So my hat is off to Karen Ball this week. Sadly, this is the last time we’ll work together. Can you believe she left freelancing to take a job as fiction acquisitions editor for Broadman & Holman? Man. Leave me out in the cold, will ya.
Karen will be great for B&H. I hope after she’s been there a little while she’ll grant F&F an interview—give us an inside peek at what kinds of fiction she’s looking for.
Pardon me now while I return to fixing my horrendous writing. All you folks out there who read my novels—you can thank your lucky stars for Karen. She makes sure the writing’s good by the time it gets into your hands.