I would like to say that my writing is impeccable, but my editors took my writing to a whole different level. The grammar, flow, and understanding were so much greater. It is hard as an author to look at your work in a detached way when you come to the editing part of things, especially since when there are gaps in the text, your mind instantly fills them in (as the story resides in the writers mind). Not so for the reader, those gaps may mean a lack of cohesion and being unable to connect with the story.
I wrote the novel in about five months (over a couple years) and the editing process lasted nearly two. I had four people edit my novel using a couple different methods. I began by printing off newly written pages nearly every week and my wife read and marked up the draft with a highlighter. Having someone be able to give you feedback during the writing of a book is very important as discussions we had led to important changes or additions. The shape of the characters was molded and the world was more cohesive through this, and it also helped me know what to focus on.
Once the final draft was complete I used Google Docs to share the text with three separate editors. IN this way we were all able to make changes and even use the IM chat feature to ask questions and provide guidance. The method we used was when anyone had a change they would input it like the following example (not actual edit):
- wrenched from his grip, his sword tumbled (his sword was wrenched from his grip and fell)
There was no deletion by the editors only the recommendations in ( ). Google Doc helpfully assigns a separate highlight color to each user whenever an edit is made. From there I would go in and either make the change or talk to the editor and discuss reasons I had to not take their recommendations. As the editing in Google Docs happens in real time each editor could work at their own pace and even see what sections each other were working on to make sure they did not work on the same text simultaneously.
Once this long, but rewarding, process was complete I and my wife re-read the entire novel. We caught some minor grammar mistakes and I then uploaded it to Google Docs again for the editing team to take a final look. From there I published.
Why is having an editor is important? In my mind there resides a fully fleshed out fantasy world filled with characters with their own separate histories. All the detail imaginable about the novel is in my head. The hard part, for me as well as many authors I am sure, is to communicate what is in the mind to paper in such a way as to not only make sense, but draw the reader into that world and experience it. Though the editing was painful at times, it ensured that my view of the novel’s world was translated for the reader. I believe this made for a much stronger and cohesive story and I am truly thankful for all the hard work by my editors.