Edit, edit, edit. Then edit some more.
As an editor, I know the value of giving a second, third, or even fourth look to a piece of writing. After my debut novel, New York Dolls, was selected for publication by 48fourteen Publishing, I learned even more how valuable the editorial process is.
The book went through more than four rounds of editing and revisions, and even by the third round, errors in continuity were still being spotted. Beyond the typos and grammatical errors and jumbles of syntax, tricky issues like a character wearing a black sweater on one page and a gray one a few pages later kept popping up—things I’d never noticed in the half dozen or so times I’d read, re-read, and proofed the book myself.
That sweater situation loomed large deep into the editing rounds of New York Dolls. My main character, Denton Hodges, has a bit of a complicated relationship with her trusty sweater throughout the novel, making it a key component of the plot. Having it suddenly and mysteriously change colors from one chapter to the next would not be good. Where was the editor in me when I was writing those pages? After some creative re-workings of a few critical plot points, I resolved the issue, and Denton’s sweater was saved.
Having a few extra pairs of eyes going through the manuscript early on proved to be invaluable. It made me more attuned than ever to checking for consistency in addition to grammar and typos. When you’ve written a book or a screenplay or anything creative, you’re too close to the material to be able to not only judge it impartially but notice what it’s missing or what’s mixed up in it. Whether it’s one or three editors, those extra layers of scrutiny really are needed to make your work shine.