Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Editorial comments and revisions

You know, I’ve had everything in editorial letters from “Virtually perfect as is, don’t change anything” to “Chapter five isn’t working, can you totally rewrite it?”

And that’s from editors, after my wonderful agent has already said things like “Can you maybe condense this fifty-page journey to five paragraphs or so?” and “The middle is slow, can you cut 10,000 words and maybe introduce a monster or something?”

It’s easiest to make changes when a) you agree that the change would be a good idea (this is nearly always the case for me); and b) the suggestions are very specific.

The House of Shadows editorial letter is definitely on the “easy” side of the spectrum. My editor does list some extremely specific suggestions, but I’ve barely looked at those yet because I’m dealing with the five general suggestions first. My quick glance over the specifics (“on p. 20 can you maybe delete this sentence?”) indicate that they’re are all going to have the same answer (“sure”), so there’s no rush for those. They’re trivial.

Here are the four general suggestions (boiled down):

1) Cut a little description from Nemienne’s and Taudde’s points of view, especially in earlier chapters.

2) Make Nemienne more decisive and make sure she doesn’t come across as wishy-washy.

3) Give the reader a little more on the history between the country of Lirionne and the country of Kalches (the tension between those countries is an important plot element).

4) Give the reader a bit more of a handle on the villain’s motivation.

I’m also doing a slow, careful read-through of the whole thing to check for continuity and typos and stuff (found three typos so far! “Pray” for “prey”, for example. Ugh. I expect the copy editor would have caught them, but ugh.)

So I’ve done about a third of the ms so far! New really obvious technique that I can’t believe I’ve never used before: All big chunks of added text are in red! That will make it easy for me to find them and think about them again later, and I bet my editor will also like being able to see the added text, too! (Next: think of some obvious technique to track deletions.)

Yesterday it took 2 hours to go through 20 pp! Wow, slooooow. But I added 1000 words or so, addressing some of the concerns listed above, and I’m fairly happy with the changes. And you know what? I’m also just kind of enjoying the book and even the process of revision. I don’t think I’ve looked at the ms for 2 years or so. I like it! Looking forward to seeing it hit the shelves next year!

I see there’s no excerpt of House of Shadows here on the website. That’s reasonable, ’cause when the website was put up, it wasn’t very close to its publication date. But getting to be about time to see about that, I imagine. In the meantime, I think maybe next week I’ll see about posting short excerpts from each main character’s point of view . . .

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2 Comments Editorial comments and revisions

  1. Robert

    For deletions, could you use the strikethrough font effect? Or highlight in dark grey?

    Looking forward to the excerpts!

  2. Rachel

    Both good ideas! At the moment I’m collecting important deletions in a Fragments file, so I can read through them at the end and make sure I still think they can be cut. But I’m kind of liking the idea of using strikethroughs as a first can-it-go font choice before actually removing a paragraph or couple of sentences. I think I’ll give that a whirl. Why didn’t I think of that? Thanks!

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