Many individuals think that writing a book is the hardest part of becoming an author. What they don’t know is that finding a good editor can also be a challenge and a costly one at that.
Some writers chose to edit their own manuscripts. If that describes you, take advantage of another author, editor and creative strategist’s expertise. In her second book, The Novel Editing Workbook, Kris Spisak shares 105 Tips and Tricks for Revising Your Fiction Manuscript.
Read on to learn more about the person behind this book. And while you are at it, make room for it on your desk. As a nonfiction writer, I did!
1-Question: What prompted you to write The Novel Editing Workbook?
Kris: I have been a freelance fiction editor for over ten years, and I love the process of working with budding authors to take their manuscripts from solid to spectacular. While my first book (Get a Grip on Your Grammar) has a section on creative writing and storytelling, there was so much more I wanted to say. I had been channelling all of this content into my workshops and speaking engagements, but the more I thought about it, the more I knew there was a full book on editing fiction in my head.
There are countless resources on the topic of how to write a novel, but few exist on how to edit one. And revision is an essential part of the creative process, especially in a competitive publishing marketplace like what we see today. In short, The Novel Editing Workbook came to be because I know writers need as many resources as possible to make their dreams come true. I’m honored to give them one more.
2-Question: You mentioned in your book that “editing is energizing.” That may come as a shock to many writers. Please explain.
Kris: Oh, but it absolutely is energizing. You’ve created this new story for the world to hear, and that’s something to be so proud of; however, no project is “done” the moment that final punctuation mark is typed. Editing is the polish-to-a-shine phase of the creative process. You can think of it as work, or you can think of it as tweaking, cajoling, carving, manipulating, mending, and buffing. It’s your opportunity to bring out your absolute best. How is that anything but exciting?
3-Question: Before reading your book, I thought that editing was simply rereading a work to ensure that all the i’s were dotted and the t’s were crossed. You opened my eyes to macro-editing and micro-editing. Would you explain these terms?
Kris: So many writers want to start their editing process with sentence one of page one, looking for grammar mistakes and typos, but true editing is so much more than that. Before you ensure every comma is in the right place, you need to do a big-picture examination of your project to make sure everything is as powerful as possible. This is the “macro-edit,” looking at where you begin your story and whether this is the best beginning, looking at how it’s structured, whether every scene drives your plot forward in some way, whether every character is three- dimensional and unique when compared to the other players on your written stage, and so much more. Only after all of this should a writer focus down to sentence-level edits, or “micro-edits.” Here, one would spend time to ensure dialogue is ringing true, sentence structure isn’t repetitive, word choice isn’t cliche, pacing is perfected within any given scene, and more. Proofreading is a valuable step of the editing process, but it’s the last of three stages. If a writer skips either of the first two, their story is likely not as strong as it could be.
4-Question: I loved your advice to “never edit more than 10 pages (or 10 minutes) at a time.” If you are on a roll, why stop?
Kris: You know your story so well, right? There might just be times where you think it’s the most brilliant thing ever. When you are wearing your editing hat, though, you must keep your critical eye and remain impartial. This isn’t hard to do for a short time, but when you’re editing your own work, there always comes a time when you stop revising and suddenly begin reading. You get pulled into your own story, and your imagination is leading your eyes across the language on the page. By giving yourself a limit, you force yourself to stay in your editing zone, avoiding the moment when you realize you haven’t actually critically examined the last page (or the last chapter). An editing break doesn’t need to be long, but it’s important if you want to remain consistently at the top of your game.
5-Question: I also loved your recommendation to read your manuscript aloud. Please explain the benefit.
Kris: Your ear is a better editor than your eye. You know what you meant to write on the page, and your eye sometimes reads what makes sense–skimming straight over typos or other potential stumbling blocks for other readers. But when you read your work aloud, the process is slower, and more parts of your brain are activated. The teamwork of your voice, your ear, and your eyes enables you to more frequently catch mistakes, wordy sentences, logic flaws, and so much more. When you’re editing, you want to give yourself every advantage possible. This simple trick has been known to save a lot of writers.
6-Question: What is your advice to budding authors based on what you have learned from authoring two books?
Kris: Writing a book is work! It’s joy. It can be agony. It’s fun. It takes more time than anyone really realizes. Yet to me, in the end, storytelling is one of the most inspiring examples of human creativity, determination, and accomplishment. You are bringing ideas that started in your imagination into the head of someone else. How cool is that? The writing life has ups and downs, but keep going. If you ever have a moment of thinking you can’t, remember that you absolutely can. Powerful storytelling is a human miracle in action. You are a miracle worker. Always keep going if you can.
Other fun facts about Kris Spisak:
• Her first publication was in poetry.
• She has a novel (or two) in the works that she hopes to share news about soon.
• She has two cats, Popcorn and Butter.
• In a moment of writer doubt, she once went to Florence, Italy by herself to stay in a hostel and take a writing workshop.
• She has found that every project has a natural soundtrack, a perfect musical complement. Her first traditionally-published book, Get a Grip on Your Grammar, was largely written to French hip hop, and The Novel Editing Workbook was edited mostly to the Australian/British string quartet.
Finally, here is the link for pre-ordering a copy to receive a free gift of extra editing cheat-sheets! https://www.fountainbookstore.com/KrisSpisak
It will be available in paperback and ebook wherever books are sold on February 6th. The pre-order package is available for all orders by 11:59 p.m. (EST) on February 4th.