How do you know which editorial changes are worth fighting?
Simple. I go back to the best piece of writing advice I ever received, given to me by Jeffery Deaver. He told me to always remember: The Reader IS God!
I try to keep that in mind while doing revisions. After the first draft, the book is no longer for me or all about me, it's about the reader and how best to entertainment. How to earn the time and money they've invested in me and my story.
How to transport them to another world, give them a compelling, powerful experience while there, and how to leave them feeling so connected to my world that they're still thinking about it once they close the book.
Not asking for much, eh?
Which is why there's only one rule I write by: never bore and never confuse.
So with those three sentiments in mind, I launch into edits. At every point where I disagree with my editor, I return to those three statements. Will the change create a better experience for my reader, will it slow the pace (risk boring them), or will it confuse the narrative by jumbling the timeline or throwing in too much explanation at the wrong place?
After all, when I write a book for publication, I'm making a promise to the reader to give them a particular emotional experience and it's up to me to deliver that.
And since both my editor and I are on the same team as far as wanting the reader to be happy and willing to invest future time and money into my books, it doesn't have to be an adversarial process either. Although sometimes the art department may not seem to be fully on board, lol! But that's a post for another time.
I doubt if readers ever sense most of this tug-o-war—which is as it should be if I and my editor are doing our jobs well.
But you tell me. Ever read a book where you felt the writer broke one of these "golden rules" and went off the rails, seeming to not care about the experience they promised you as a reader?
Go ahead, rant, you don't have to name names. We'll listen! Because here at 7CM, we think you ARE gods!
Thanks for reading,
As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge suspense novels. Her debut, LIFELINES (Berkley, March 2008), became a National Bestseller and Publishers Weekly proclaimed it a "breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller."
The second in the series, WARNING SIGNS, was released January, 2009 and the third, URGENT CARE, October, 2009. Her newest project is as co-author of the first in a new suspense series with Erin Brockovich. To learn more about CJ and her work, go to http://www.cjlyons.net