Is anyone on here an editor?

(55 Posts)
LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sat 16-Mar-13 18:57:05

I need some help sad My ms has been rejected left right and centre, even though the agents have said it has great potential. I have 4 beta readers but none of them have picked up the errors that the latest agent has flagged up. It appears that the agents don't have the time to do full edits now so I don't know what to do with it. Would anyone be able to help? Cash flow is an issue at the moment IYKWIM sad

I'm begging. sad thanks

TunipTheVegedude Sat 16-Mar-13 19:20:53

Not an editor I'm afraid, but I'm wondering what sort of errors they are.
I am finding at the moment that my betas have widely different strengths. One person has a nose for plot holes, another is good at picking up bad bits of writing, another is good on pacing, etc. Could it be a matter of finding more beta readers who are strong on the things your current bunch are missing?

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sat 16-Mar-13 19:34:24

She said there's inconsistencies in the plot and she can't make out what sort of story it is supposed to be. "Your writing is stronger, but your narrative voice still feels quite patchy and inconsistent. And that's what I believe you need to work on if you are going to deliver the story that you love as much as you clearly do. I think they key to success will be making the point of view - Jack's - really secure."

All 8 of the readers have said nothing about this though. sad It's a children's book so isn't huge. Im not sure what else to do.

TunipTheVegedude Sat 16-Mar-13 19:55:05

Mmm, that does sound like the sort of thing you have to be quite skilled to detect. (I was hoping you'd say it was grammar or something else easy so I could help!)
Is it first person or third person restricted viewpoint?

Are you on any of the big writing forums? I joined Absolute Write.com recently and there seem to be quite a few very smart people on there.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sat 16-Mar-13 19:59:36

It's third person. I tried that, and authonomy sad I live with a spelling and grammar geek so I know thats's OK, I think it's a problem when you spend so much time rewriting, your writing changes over time so it won't be consistent IYSWIM.

She said my picture books were too descriptive as well. I can sort these though, I think.

TunipTheVegedude Sat 16-Mar-13 20:05:17

So if she thinks Jack's point of view isn't secure then she's telling you that there are things in the narration which Jack wouldn't have been aware of, or are expressed in a way that's inconsistent with his character. Did she give any examples? That seems like the sort of thing it ought to be possible to go through systematically and identify. Did you try that and fail to find things? Have your betas had a go at looking for that specifically?

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sat 16-Mar-13 20:14:32

She's marked up 2 pages but hasn't given any other examples. The mark up that she has made are not specifically for the main character, there's not many for him to be honest. I did ask the beta's to look, they didn't find any (they did get slightly carried away reading the story itself to be honest).

I'll go through it again in a few days. Thank you for answering smile

SheepNoisesOff Sat 16-Mar-13 20:16:16

Do you know Critique Circle? That's another site where you can swap critiques with other writers, I've had some really helpful reviews on there.

TunipTheVegedude Sat 16-Mar-13 20:16:57

Sorry I couldn't be more helpful smile
I hope you find someone to help.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sat 16-Mar-13 20:19:35

No, I've not heard of that one. I'll explore when I'm feeling a little better. smile

Thank you thanks

TunipTheVegedude Sat 16-Mar-13 20:19:41

Just a thought - I wonder if you could ask on AbsoluteWrite or similar for recommendations for creative writing books that are particularly good on viewpoint and narrative voice?

It must be something a lot of writers struggle with.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sat 16-Mar-13 20:22:01

I have 4 books. grin I've read through them and ticked all of the instructions /tips off as they have already been covered (or so I thought).

TunipTheVegedude Sun 17-Mar-13 10:21:34

Including 'Self-Editing For Fiction Writers' by Browne and King?
They have a chapter on point-of-view.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sun 17-Mar-13 11:11:38

Yup. It's somewhere in the house. sad

Punkatheart Sun 17-Mar-13 13:08:21

If you send me at least some of it - maybe I could give you an idea?

I am an assistant editor on a magazine and I write for a living - so I am pretty switched on.....

Could look at it tonight?

PM me.

kungfupannda Sun 17-Mar-13 13:36:23

On the subject of the viewpoint, it could be something to do with psychic distance. If it's third person, is it deep third person (ie you have nothing in the story that he doesn't experience personally)?

If so, the viewpoint issue might well be that you pan out occasionally, and let things creep in that are beyond his knowledge or understanding.

One way of solving viewpoint problems is to switch it to first person.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sun 17-Mar-13 14:40:06

smile Thank you {sobs}

I put the poor child through hell, kungfupanda. I give him something very special, then an evil psychopathic wizard steals his mum so he has to go an rescue her. It's all from his viewpoint (pretty much, it was a lot of fun to write). I'm blind (literally).

Hope this is going well, LadyMary. I'll be happy to critique a chapter if you want to PM me.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Thu 21-Mar-13 13:45:40

smile Thank you xxx

I'm a little ill at the moment so am taking a few days off. It's soo hard! sad

TunipTheVegedude Fri 22-Mar-13 10:33:36

Hope you feel better soon LadyMary x

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Fri 22-Mar-13 10:38:17

sad Thank you x I need to book ds and I into a hotel so we can sleep and not worry about cooking or cleaning until we feel better. Is there such a place?

GrendelsMum Wed 27-Mar-13 08:38:36

You've been working on it a long time, haven't you? (I think I took a look at a chapter from an earlier draft)

Why don't you put it to one side, work on another novel for the same age group for a few months, and then return to Jack and his adventures with a fresh eye?

Have you been to any classes? I went to some excellent classes at our local FE college, where they also had some specifically for childrens' writing.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sat 30-Mar-13 20:12:55

A little over 2 years. I have had lots of breaks and have worked on other plots. I want to finish this one now though. It's almost there. I can't afford any classes, the 'how to write' books seem to tell me what I already know. sad

GrendelsMum Sat 30-Mar-13 20:30:49

I was thinking your editor's comments over and thinking about a friend's writing (he's an ex-marine, writing a thriller set in Afghanistan).

His writing has a lot of strengths - he has a great story to tell, he has characters that you want to spend time with, he really knows the situation, and he's very good at dialogue.

But he's much less good at narration. It veers between over descriptive ("Corporal Drake's nostrils flared with the rust red sand and dust flung up from the thick mud walls of the fort as the misshapen bullets hummed through the hazy midday air.") and the bland ("Corporal Drake ran across the yard. Luckily, all the bullets missed, and he reached the door.") Sometimes he gets it dead in the middle, and then it's really good.

I would describe his work as being somewhat patchy and inconsistent when it comes to narrative style. Do you think that there could be anything similar in your writing? Anything where occasionally you go to one extreme and then the other?

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sat 30-Mar-13 20:55:09

The feedback I have is a bit like that, yes. The descriptions are mainly really good (so they say) but there's other parts which need a bit of a lift. I've been working on the main character's 'personality' as well as she said he was too confusing. He's a bit headstrong (doesn't listen) now. Some of his other qualities come out during the book but this is the first that the reader will see. I'm just not certain it's the best one.

wine

GrendelsMum Sat 30-Mar-13 21:01:15

I've just returned to an older book of mine, after having worked on my current novelf for eighteen months or so. I was imagining that the older book would be in a reasonably finished state, and was thinking about putting it onto Kindle, after the other thread about self-publishing.

Not to put too fine a point on it, it's rubbish! I can see so much that needs improving.

That's why I think that leaving your novel and returning later may help - after all, 2 years is nothing in the scheme of things.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sat 30-Mar-13 21:04:49

I know of one author who spent 20 years on her first! shock

I have a couple of new readers, she's given me a couple of ideas of things to improve and it doesn't need a lot of work (poor woman was up until 6am reading it as she couldn't put it down blush). I'll do some bits and put it away. It does seem to need less and less doing to it each time I get feedback, I always think 'this time' though.

Thank you smile

GrendelsMum Sat 30-Mar-13 21:06:32

There you are - it's on it's way to being finished, just that the way is long!

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sat 30-Mar-13 21:09:25

The 20 year book? That would drive me up the wall. blush I have a short attention span but can write quickly. I did the first draft (12k) in two days. I put it away for a month and forget what I've written.

donnasummer Sun 31-Mar-13 07:31:37

Hi. You gave me some good advice last night. I have a feeling we have talked before! you know me as ninah.
You said to me to put it away for a month. Would this help you, also? Chin up, we've come a long way!

WhitePeacock Sun 31-Mar-13 07:51:52

LadyMary, I'm an editor! <arrives panting> I work freelance with authors and as an editorial consultant with an agency, and I specialise in kids/YA. How are you doing at present? Please PM me if you think I could be of help.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sun 31-Mar-13 10:24:49

Ninah!!! (I was ladySybil until her sad demise sad). It's already been put away for a while, I have to finish it. It's so close. I'm so chuffed for you... take your time though wink

Hi WhitePeacock. I do need a little help, the bank account won't allow it though sad Thank you for your offer. wine

WhitePeacock Sun 31-Mar-13 11:58:47

Alas, I am pretty cheap (in a manner of speaking...) but can't afford to edit for free sad I am always up for negotiating, though, and also for being pointed at specific areas of an MS, not necessarily the whole kit and caboodle - so if cash flow becomes a bit more propitious at any point and you feel a targeted intervention might be worth it, do drop me a PM!

The stroke of luck will come one day, even if it winds up being with your next book. The important things are that a) you have the talent to keep people reading till 6 am, and b) you're not too precious to make changes and you seek and accept constructive feedback. Really good luck and fingers crossed.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sun 31-Mar-13 12:05:41

smile Thank you. I'm living on beans on toast as it is at the moment. sad I think some of the descriptions need work as they can be a little flat in some areas. I'm happy to work on those, my creative side is having a break over the weekend though. In the mean time, I have a couple of picture books that need some TLC. I know these have potential, she said they read more like stories than picture books though so I've had another edit and they now no longer make sense without the pictures so I'm assuming they are OK to go. grin If I manage to sell one I'll have enough to get the novel looked at. wink

WhitePeacock Sun 31-Mar-13 13:11:44

What it is to be a starving scribe sad fingers crossed for picture books as well.

Description pitfalls I often come across:

Too much detail - writer trying to render everything, rather than the few crucial bits that allow the reader to see what's being described

Writer has got carried away with poetry and lost sight of drive of main narrative to revel in a lushly worded descriptive passage (I always think of Stella Gibbons and her Baedeker stars in Cold Comfort Farm when this happens!)

Too little detail - bald, broad outlines without the touches of shade and colour that make them 3D rather than 2. What is it that you/your character would notice/feel/smell if you were there, because it stood out to the senses? Have you captured that?

Enjoy Easter and hope it comes together v soon smile

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sun 31-Mar-13 13:45:25

Yup. One day grin

The descriptions are the first thing that all of the readers mention as they seem to love them. I don't think they are consistent though as I've skimped on some more than others (it's on my 'to do' list). I've captured things through his senses, I think the issue lies with his personality traits; there's too many so he's too complicated for the age of the reader. He starts off afraid, then he's headstrong, then he's considerate, then he's reasonable, then he's afraid again, then he's caring, then he's... In the rewrite he's headstrong but caring. I hope I've sorted it, problem is that I won't know unless I can find an agent who sends feedback. Not all of them do and I won't know as the readers don't always pick up problems.

Thank you, ds is still in bed! Lazy!!

WhitePeacock Sun 31-Mar-13 14:27:25

Worth mentioning briefly, when you next submit, that you've had constructive feedback from several not-your-mum readers and have worked with their suggestions, so that this is more polished and closer to being 'ready' than a first draft?

Agents only give feedback IME if it's a really near miss for them, and not very indepth stuff then - they just don't have time. (So if you're getting any that's a good sign!)

Are you going back to same agents or casting net wider now?

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sun 31-Mar-13 14:35:18

I'm not sure. She said I can send it back for advice, not as a submission though and she takes months to get back to me (she's busy so it's understandable). There isn't a lot of agents who deal with both picture books and older children's novels so my net is very small. Most have already rejected both (she's one of two who's given feedback) so I can't really approach any of them again. I mention the readers in my sub letter, I don't note what they have said though (it's 100% very positive) as they may want to come to their own conclusion. There's a few left to try, the temptation to return it to the helpful agent as a 'look at what we've created' and keep my fingers crossed that she loves it enough to offer rep is there though.

My mum hasn't read it, nor have any members of my family. grin

WhitePeacock Sun 31-Mar-13 14:59:21

grin I assumed from what you'd said they were non-mum readers - sorry, didn't mean to suggest you were a green-ink submitter (Well MY mUm loved it AND I will be The next JK ROwling you foOLs)! Do you mention having incorporated reader criticism too?

Why not look at agents who don't do picture books but are the best imaginable fit for your current MS? You don't have to have just one agent, after all, and if your net is small I would try widening it to increase your odds of getting the stroke of luck. Bear in mind too that picture books represent a big initial outlay of money for a publisher so they're an increasingly hard sell (that's why fewer agents do them now, climate too risk-averse.)

Keep friendly agent up your sleeve. If you think your book's ready, or as ready as it can be, you probably want to submit more than you want to wait potentially months for 'advice'. Widen your net and go for older kids' lit agents. G'wan g'wan g'wan! blush time I turned my full attention to the beggar I'm actually editing grin

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sun 31-Mar-13 15:15:02

I might try it next time I send of my fiction novel. I'm not the next JK Rowling, I never say that. I'm sure that being the next CS Lewis is more than enough. I make sure always to use comic sans when I submit and I make sure to use purple ink and bright neon paper, it adds an extra 'umph!', along with telling them they would be crazy to turn me down. There must be a lot of crazy agents out there though sad

I am kidding (don't ever do this)!

I mention reader criticism and say that I'm always happy to receive feedback and make amendments. I stalk follow a lot on twitter so I get to know a little about them before I send it off.

The picture book is 'lovely'. One publisher has seen it, they loved it but I screwed up the meeting with the editor (nerves). I'm sure it will find a home. I'll have a think.

Thank you. Enjoy your Easter. smile

donnasummer Sun 31-Mar-13 18:24:23

haha ladym, you make me laugh!
headstrong but caring sounds believable
Just keep trying! I think it's harder in a way when you've been working for a while and getting some maybe's. The next step is a yes, there's no reason why it shouldn't be you or I, eventually ...
I like the idea of sending the YA book to a new bunch of agents. Good luck! have a nice Easter!

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sun 31-Mar-13 18:36:27

We'll both get there, I know we will smile

I'll sort it out first, then try and rehome it. Poor thing. sad

MysteriousHamster Wed 10-Apr-13 22:33:01

I would never mention other readers. Agents don't care - what matters is if they like it. An exception might be if you are friends with a very famous author.

I have read slush piles and rejected tonnes of books (and now for my sins am trying and failing to write my own - very hard to take my own advice!) and most were rejected for being competent but not having that extra spark I wanted.

Sometimes what you've done just doesn't 'click' with whoever's reading it. All you can do is send it off to different people and in the meantime write something new. Too many people fixate on getting one book right. Write lots of them! Edit lots of them! Soon you will look back on this book and see errors that you couldn't possibly detect now.

Or you might sell it to the next person you send it to smile

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Wed 17-Apr-13 21:59:07

smile Thank you. A new reader has read it, she loves it as well. blush She's going through it with a fine comb. I've done some work on the main character, he's great now (I am slightly biased). You're right, it's very hard. Nothing like a challenge though. grin

TunipTheVegedude Thu 18-Apr-13 09:22:13

LadyM, whenever I whinge about it being hard dh says 'But it's GOOD that it's hard because then there will be less competition!'

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Thu 18-Apr-13 13:57:22

He's clearly never looked on the Authonomy wed site! grin I think a lot of people want to write books, which causes issues as the publishers and agents are so busy shifting through it all. sad

TunipTheVegedude Thu 18-Apr-13 14:11:33

Oh, he isn't implying there isn't lots of competition, just that there would be even more if it was easy!

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Thu 18-Apr-13 14:30:15

There's already loads. A first timer has other first timers to compete with, celebrities who get a ghost writer and then there's the established writers. sad It's like trying to get into an exclusive club.

TunipTheVegedude Thu 18-Apr-13 15:05:10

But it is at least a club whose entry is (with the exception of the celebrities) dependent on how good your work is, so you can always improve your odds by working away at making it better, while other people who are less committed fall by the wayside. That's the thing. Keep on plugging away through the grim and frustrating periods and you will emerge on the other side a better writer, with more better odds of success.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Thu 18-Apr-13 15:11:50

I'm well known for being a persistent sod. grin Problem is, it's so hard to get good feedback. When I do manage to get some I will use it and think it's all OK. Then I send it off, only to find there's more problems with it. I work on it again, send it off, only to be told there's different problems. That's if I get feedback at all. I really don't mind working on it, I hate to waste people's time though and I can't afford an expert eye. It's the same with the picture books. sad

TunipTheVegedude Thu 18-Apr-13 15:19:35

Yes, I can see that where you are at the moment is a horribly frustrating place to be!
Do you think your writing skills are moving forward, though? Because I bet all that rewriting-followed-by-more-rejection, even though it feels like it's just getting you back to square one each time, is improving your understanding and mastery of the writing process no end.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Thu 18-Apr-13 17:38:47

I think so. It's a case of 'doh! Did I really do that' most of the time. It would help if they were pointed out before though IYKWIM. Every time I edit it there's a lot less to do so I'm hoping that it shouldn't take too long, but then again the next agent to read it may pick up on something. I'm also very aware that I'm running out of agents to sub to. I'm hoping the next book doesn't need as many rewrites. smile

TunipTheVegedude Wed 15-May-13 15:15:50

How's it going LadyMary? Have you got any further with working it all out?

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Thu 16-May-13 07:33:09

I am an editor OP. I work with scripts generally but I have written short fiction and been published myself.

I will have a quick look...I can't promise that I can read the whole thing or be very detailed but I could read a chapter or two and give you some feedback.

Ullena Fri 24-May-13 20:29:49

I am an assistant editor/proofreader OP, feel free to PM me if you would like me to check the manuscript sometime over the summer. I have time off then and enjoy my work too much to be doing nothing blush

<nerd who needs to get out more emoticon>

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