Since I started writing in High School, I have grown by leaps and bounds as a writer, but that’s only because I’ve been open to instruction through editing. I went to college and have an English degree. I did well in school and went on to the business of PR. When I finally got around to taking my writing seriously and finished my first book, I searched for a publisher. At the time, I did not have the funds to have my book professionally edited. Of course, I did my own edits and had some other friends (who are pretty good at editing, but not professional), review it as well. The publisher I worked with did not have a good editing system; they really had no system in place at all. I know my book was not polished, but I use that as a stepping stone.
My current book has been through many edits of my own. I submitted it to one publishing company that gave me a contract and they had an awesome editor that opened my eyes to major issues I had. I learned a great deal from that editor. That publishing company went out of business before my book was published. I’m with a great company now and I just finished reviewing the current edits that my publisher did on my book. It was another eye-opening experience. I learned so much more.
After these two major overhauls on my book, I feel that Mr. Shipley’s Governess is finally ready to take on the world!
During the first major overhaul of my manuscript, I learned that I had an issue with POV. I kept head hopping between characters. Once that was shown to me, I worked hard and made the necessary changes and the book was one more layer towards completion. During that review, I also learned that I was going about my plot line wrong. My book is an inspirational romance and the manuscript was anything but romantic. I was telling the story, but the characters were on two different continents for a good portion of the story. Once I realized that they needed to be in more scenes together, the reader is able to feel their story more; another layer completed. My third problem was that I used passive voice too much instead of active voice. I fixed that problem and ended up with another one.
During the second major overhaul that I just completed, I realized that as I was revising the manuscript to use more active voice, I removed the passive voice, but that meant that I was now starting too many sentences with “he, he, he and she, she, she.” I was so focused on the action verbs that I didn’t realize I was losing the flow of the paragraphs. So, the problem is now solved and I thank my editors at the publishing company for showing me that writing flaw. The other major flaw that I had in my writing was that I used too many “said’s” in the dialogue. For example, Mr. Shipley said, “Wait, I’ll be right there.” I learned that it’s better to rephrase that. Mr. Shipley stood up from his desk. “Wait, I’ll be right there.” The latter definitely makes the dialogue sequences have more action and follows the mantra of show, don’t tell. Once I rephrased my dialogue sequences, it was amazing to me what a difference it made.
If you are a beginning writer, it is so important for you to have a professional editor review your work. If you can’t afford to hire an editor, do your own homework and make sure you have good POV and don’t head hop. You need to use active, rather than passive voice. Steer clear of repeating words and starting sentences with he/she all the time. Make your dialogue into great action sequences. Keep your plot lines strong with characters that change and grow with the story. Don’t let the plot become convoluted.
Always be open to instruction from editors. If they see a problem, address it. Once you’ve taken an open-minded look at their suggestions, if you don’t agree, fine, then walk away from their suggestions. However, if you want to be successful, be open to constructive criticism. That’s the only way to improve your writing and grow in your craft. Your readers will thank you!