Bye Bye Darlings: The Editing Gauntlet by Alice Zorn

“I’m now at the last read-through before Five Roses goes to the design people. I’ve rewritten the manuscript three times since I thought it was finished in 2013. Cutting, puzzling, moving pages around. Lots of darlings sent marching to the recycling bin.”

I read Alice Zorn’s terrific post with great interest – since I am editing my own second novel Krishna’s Counsel. She is of course spot on when she sees the author cannot “see” the work clearly. I rely on beta-readers, not professional editors, for various reasons, and not just money. What I loved most about her post is her second last line — “At each stage of editing, the book becomes more of an entity that lives separate from me. Which is what it will have to be when it’s sent off into the world.” Yes, that is the stage every good author/writer must reach – to move from the deeply subjective to a brilliant objective recounting. Thanks, Alice Zorn, and good luck with Five Roses – bet it’s very good!

QWF Writes

Farine Five Roses
Alice Zorn’s new novel, Five Roses, is named after the FARINE FIVE ROSES sign that marks the southwest horizon of Montreal and Pointe St-Charles, where the novel is set. Photo: Alice Zorn

You’ve finished your novel manuscript and you even – finally! – get a publisher. It took ten years. You have Neanderthal muscles across your brow from frowning at the computer screen. But now you’re home-free. Bingo!

Then you get the first slew of comments from your editor. She’s the objective eye who sees what the book can be, but isn’t yet. Does it begin in the best possible place? Is there too much exposition? Does it have structural integrity? What about the ending? She tells you all the darlings you cherished while you were writing don’t belong unless they serve the book. The clever turns of phrase, the crisp dialogue, the research that shows off your erudition…

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