Author Rachel Aaron has recently posted a great piece about how she came to love the editing process over on her blog. It comes at just the right time for me, as I’m finally about to start editing book one of Twin Stars. Good advice any writer should check out, especially a novelist.
When you write a first draft, you are writing a story. You’re telling your character’s tale, spinning your adventure, whatever. When you start to edit a novel, you’re no longer just telling a story, you’re getting ready to put on a production, to invite a reader into your world. Think of your book as a fun house ride. You might have built this funhouse based on your fantasies, but once you invite people in, it’s no long your world alone. The world has to make sense to others, it has to delight and surprise and, most importantly, capture them. The readers might be drawn in by the glitz at the front door, but from the moment they set foot inside your domain, it’s your job to keep them there.
This, for me, is what editing is about. You are no longer just getting words down, you’re no longer asking “what happens next?” You’re asking “how can I prepare the reader for what happens next?” and “how can I make them LOVE IT?” You’re not just crafting a story, you’re crafting an experience that you are going to share with each person who picks up your book. It is your job to make sure your plot and world make sense not just within the book, but in the mind of the reader. Your job to make sure your characters are engrossing, not just effective for your plot. Your job to give these people a reason to stay.