Friday, December 20, 2013

What I've learned as a Self Published Writer--Developmental Editors by Christie Rich!

Good Morning Everyone,

My writing journey has been one of the best experiences of my life. It hasn't been easy. Most great experiences aren't, but what amazes me is how much I've learned in such a short time. As some of you may know, I haven't always written. I started a few years ago because I had a story that wouldn't let me go. I wrote the words in blur of ignorant bliss. Once I completed my first draft, I thought I was done. I had to decide if I wanted to pursue publishing the story, so I set out to learn the "rules" for being a writer, how to get published, and pretty much anything I could find on how to write the dreaded "query letter".

Many things have changed since I typed those first words. I've completed six books! Whoopa! I've decided, at least for now, self publishing works for me. Why? Many reasons, but most of all because I am a control freak when it comes to my books. I don't want to give someone else the right to tell me I have to change the story to fit his or her idea of what the book should be. If I did, it would no longer be my book. Even the slightest change can sidetrack a story. I have first hand experience with this concept.

In my eagerness to "learn" the rules of writing, I hired an editor. She was a developmental editor, who gave me her opinions about my manuscript. I learned so many things from the experience. The first: I will never hire another developmental editor. Why? Her influence led me to rewrite the entire story. While I appreciate her insights and do think my Elemental Enmity series ended up a much deeper tale, I have learned enough about my writing to not want that much feedback again.

A developmental editor is a good idea when you know you want to write, but you aren't confident in your writing abilities. These editors break down every sentence, explain why a concept might not work, and give you ideas to improve your story. If this is the stage you are in as a writer, then a developmental editor will probably be just what you're looking for.

I value the experience I had with my editor because she helped me to see I was skimming the surface of the story. By rewriting, I changed the entire story, not just the words. Each choice a character makes leads to a destination which requires another choice.

In my first draft, Zach and Luke were featured, but in a completely different way. Rayla had a different life and outcome in that version, which was all based on her choices and the level of story I allowed into the manuscript. I had a vision of what the story "should be" when I started writing Rayla's adventure. I think the end product would have been good had I continued with the original plot, but it would have been much less organic, much less entertaining, at least to me, lol.

I learned a valuable lesson by hiring my developmental editor. I learned words and choices can change an entire story, and so can input from outside sources. We all want input when we write. It's natural. But there is a dark side to listening to someone else's ideas. The story can become theirs before you know it. When I scrapped the first draft of Rayla's tale, I realized just how much I had overlooked. There was an entire world I hadn't identified.

I'm pleased with the outcome, but I could have easily lost control and ended up with something that didn't resonate with me. I hired a different editor for the second draft, partly because I couldn't afford to hire the previous editor for an entire re-write, but mostly because I had become comfortable with the story and my writing. I hired a copy editor, who fixed my grammatical mistakes. We all need someone to go over our words to make sure our intent is clear. It's not wise to slap up a first draft and call it done. It's not :)

So my advice to any of you who want to hire a developmental editor: understand that you will likely question your story and your writing when the edit is complete. Understand you will pay a lot more for this type of edit than a copy edit. And understand that the person editing your work is only one person. The opinions expressed are only that. It's your job as the story owner to take or leave the advice.

When I started my writing journey, I had so many questions. I'm going to be doing some articles to explain what worked and didn't work for me. I hope it's helpful! I'd love to know what experiences you've had with developmental editors, and anything writing related that has helped you progress. Comments and questions are always welcome.

Much love,


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