I wanted a professional opinion on it. I finally finished it but knew it needed more eyes. I felt that as I AM a newbie, I would benefit profoundly from having a professional help me polish my manuscript to perfection.
I am so, so pleased I did.
Firstly, It seems I have rubbish grammar and punctuation skills. Not really a surprise. What surprised me is that the story isn’t actually too bad.
It is refreshing to have someone go through your little baby with brand-new, well-trained eyes and to be so delicate with her CONSTRUCTIVE comments. I won’t use the word “criticism” because she didn’t criticise. Marion (from Making Manuscripts) gave me feedback. She told me what she, the reader (my audience), felt as she read the script. Things like “I expected her to say…” or “Wow, didn’t expect her to lose it like that…” got me thinking at what I had written from a new perspective, something I hadn’t been able to have for a long time.
The same applies for my beta-readers Lilly Christine, wonderful reader lovelies: Amber, Bel, Casey and Krissy, and most recently, the delightful naughty ninja Lily Malone. Having these women, who are a) my target audience b) excellent readers or writers in their own right, read my work and honestly tell me things, even if they are hard to hear, led me to do a lot of thinking, re-writing and hopefully improving.
Sometimes it is the “hard to hear” comments, which you eventually do reflect on as “so totally spot-on”, that are the most VITAL to improvements and polishing. Do I really need that sentence? That paragraph? That scene? I cut thirty pages down into twelve in the opening chapters and I’m glad I did (my most recent feedback tells me I could still stand to cut another five pages from the opening chapter).
I have done a massive amount of re-writing due to these comments. It is wonderful to have people ask questions, and then to allow myself a few weeks reflecting on those comments, letting them ferment in my brain.
I have one final round of edits to make over the next few weeks. Once all the feedback is in, and I let the comments age like a fine wine, I can make some final tweaks.
After which, when I send to to an agent, or to an e-publisher, I will be confident that they won’t be distracted by the grammar or punctuation or spelling, that there will be a strong storyline for them to follow, and hopefully the story will be one that they can’t walk away from.
Or I self publish, in which case I can be assured that my script will have been edited by a professional, and read by many eyes, so that, again, the story reads as free from errors as possible. We all know that little things can detract from an other wise great read.
Editing has been a wonderful process for me. Hard at times, when I would read a comment and think “I know she’s right, but I have NO IDEA how to go about fixing it.” I found that I left those parts until last, did everything else, re-read the whole script and then those hard parts seemed a little easier once read in the context of the whole. Almost like the parts I had deleted or rewritten were what lead me to be able to polish those wobbly bits.
I think that anyone who is serious about submitting their manuscript to an agent or publisher, or is keen to self-publish, HAS to have an editor go over it first. They assist you, guide you, they aren’t there to tear your work to shreds – they offer suggestions on how to take your work from legible to unputdownable. Manuscript development and professional editing are investments in your future.
I could not be more grateful for the work of this wonderful woman, and the feedback from the other five women, no matter where I go from here. I could not be where I am without you. Which, isn’t really anywhere…YET. I know I’m on my way. I’m proud of the development, and for me, right now, that’s more than enough.
Here’s cheers to the next round of edits!