Today I spent some time writing an email to a new writer asking for an endorsement for a first novel. I shouldn’t agree to do this. It takes time. I’m always on my own deadline. But I did. And I had to write to say I couldn’t endorse the book. The writer has good talent in my opinion. A great grasp of description, a worthy premise for the novel. But I found myself skipping the descriptions to find out what happened to the characters. It was an eye opener for me because I find myself having to cut ruthlessly the very things I saw in this book. If I didn’t cut it, my editors would. Nothing that doesn’t support the three questions of the story can be there and that’s painful at times.
It did remind me that I was fortunate to have fine editors who in the very beginning wrote things in the margin of my manuscript like “Let’s hurry along here” when my characters mused a bit too much or when I got lost in the valley of beautiful words. Another editor wrote “RUE” which comes from the Browne and King book Self-editing for Fiction Writers. It means “resist the urge to explain.” Ah yes. So that’s also a part of this revision process, and having the chance to read someone else’s work that I thought might benefit from RUE gave me pause. I’ve been fortunate. My editors, I think, have been good ones. They actually edit. I’m grateful, even if it does mean that the letters for “delete” have been worn off my keyboard.
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