TAP044, News From My Editor: My Experience Writing into the Dark (Part 2)
Welcome to the ninety-eighth episode of the Authorpreneur Podcast. Honestly, I can’t believe that my podcast has come this far. But, back to the matter at hand. Toward the end of March, I started working with my editor on the Locked Room, and in this episode, I share the mistakes that were found in that manuscript in comparison to the previous stories that I’ve written.
Without further ado, let’s get into the episode.
One last thing, I’d like to thank Paul Teague for taking the time to buy me a few coffees and leaving a nice message. Your support and kind words mean a lot to me, so thank you.
Feedback from My Editor about The Locked Room
In March, I received my manuscript back from my editor and performed two rounds of line edits before the manuscript was added to a proofreading queue. As expected, there were mistakes in my manuscript; after all, that’s why I hired my editor.
So what were these mistakes?
- Word repetition
- Dangling and misplaced modifiers
- Occasional point-of-view slips
- Unnecessary dialogue tags
- Vague antecedents (This occurs when the pronoun didn’t clearly reference a word before it, and the fix for this issue was to change the pronoun to the name of the character).
- Present tense words that pull the reader out of a past-tense narrative (this/these/here/now change to that/those/there/then or revised sentence)
- Narrative question where I break the fourth wall
- Confusion around the usage of toward vs to
The reason some of these mistakes are made is because as I write the first draft, I am conscious of not constructing my sentences according to a predictable pattern but varying them. So the sake of full transparency, through several stages of the writing process, I put my manuscript through programmes like Grammarly and Pro Writing Aid; and in particular, I use these tools before submitting my novels to be read by my alpha reader and again after I send it to my beta reader. I have heard some writers suggest that you could use these tools as a replacement for an editor, but I disagree with that advice because editing is an expense that you should invest in as a self-published author.
Did My Line Editor Find Any Plot Issues?
Another interesting thing is my line editor raised no plot issues or problems with my characters’ motivations. In the past, with previous books, my editor has made some of these notes, which I’ve corrected during the editing phase. Even my alpha reader and beta reader didn’t find plot issues. Sure, my beta reader did have comments made in hindsight that, to me, felt more like a discussion about the plot that was better suited to a book club discussion, but I tend to ignore those types of comments.
Yes, I Ignore Some Types of Feedback
While I’m on the topic of ignoring comments, I think it’s okay to discard comments, especially if they’re made in the spirit of “looking for trouble” or purposefully searching for things to criticise. The perfect book does not exist. I’m writing for entertainment for people who love murder mysteries, not professional critics.
Realism is More Important
This will sound bad, but I’ll even ignore comments about the order in which someone explains their motivations because I value realism over reader comments. For instance, someone who commits a crime out of a place of trauma will not start with their most significant reason; often, they will begin with the easiest things to say and back into their big why. Even Chris Watts, who committed familicide, started off his confession with the easiest thing to say, which was, in fact, the truth dressed in a lie.
In the same vein, I don’t go back and force a character to explain why they lied to my amateur sleuth. Firstly, because someone who chooses to lie will very rarely admit to it while they’re being accused, James will usually catch someone in a lie and speculate the reasons, then continue searching for the truth.
Or on one occasion, I’ve had a reader criticise when I’ve chosen to wrap up plot threads. Up until the start of the third act, I’ll have multiple threads open that the amateur sleuth needs to resolve. The promise I make to the readers is that I’ll resolve these before the denouement, not in the way they expect. I try not to write to committee because it’s not possible to please every opinion you receive.
Handling Unhelpful Comments During the Beta Reading Phase.
But you get it; I only take on board comments that contribute to the realism of the story or correct plot issues. If you’re struggling with this, simply ask, will this improve my story? If the answer is no, don’t take it on board and do not reply to the comment. It won’t end well if you do.
What Did My Line Editor Say About My Previous Books?
In previous stories, my editor pointed out where I’d started a scene too soon and failed to set up the next scene in the story. On top of this, in past edits, it was recommended that I add more setting descriptions in certain parts of a book. And obviously, I have chosen to take on board this advice. But in The Locked Room, there were no instances of these mistakes, and I’ve put this down to a result of following the writing into the dark method because the constant cycling forces me to add more depth to the story. Also, there was an instance when I realised that a story was incomplete and missing a scene during the line editing phase. So, during rounds two and three, I wrote a short scene of 6000 words and added it to the manuscript.
The good news is none of these issues were raised in the manuscript for the Locked Room And, my line editor didn’t notice the change in how I wrote the Locked Room compared to all the others. It was evident that she thought it was written to the same standard.
So, that’s all of the things that I can discuss in terms of working with my editor on my newly written into the dark novella. Now, I have an important question to ask you. Have you tried writing into the dark or discovery writing? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.
And, while I have this thought, the one-hundredth episode is coming up, and I thought it might be nice to do a celebratory Ask Me Anything session, so come on over to this page and submit a question for me to answer on the show.
The next episode of the podcast will be a behind-the-scenes podcast diary episode where I will discuss my writing, editing, publishing and marketing tasks for March and April.
Thank you for listening, and happy reading and writing, everybody.
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I’m Amelia. When I’m not hosting the Authorpreneur Podcast™️ and the Book Nerd Podcasts, I write Mystery Novels under the pen name A. D. Hay. And, I’m the author of Suspicion, the Lawn, and the Candidate.
On this blog, I help new writers to finish their first draft, prepare their manuscripts for professional editing, and when they get stuck in the first draft phase or are confused about the revision process.
Right now, I’m editing and preparing my soon to be published mystery novels, Suspicion, Duplicity, 24 Hours, and Immunity for publication.