Since signing my contract with Koehler Books, John Koehler and his crew of professionals have moved me toward publication with courtesy, humor, and professionalism. The process has clicked along from Point A to Point B to Point C like a steam locomotive. I’ve loved every part of it!
Because this is my first book, everything is new. From acquisition to contract negotiations to editing, every part of the process is novel. I’ve never done this before. The people at Koehler Books have made learning fun, even as I went through a family death as part of the journey.
My manuscript returns to me today. This weekend Joe Coccaro, my editor, briefly detailed the adjustments he feels are necessary. I agree with his assessment. When the manuscript arrives, I’ll read through the entire novel and either accept or reject each of his suggestions for revision. Some will be extensive. Some will be minor. We’ll use an editing tool I’ve never utilized before with a novel. From past experience, I know Joe will be patient and helpful as I get into the flow.
I’ve been writing fiction for six years. I’ve been authoring bible studies and theological writing for eight. I’ve been journaling for about thirty years. Each type of writing has a different mindset and unique punctuation and syntax requirements.
In my journals, which flow out of my daily time with the Lord, I gush out my questions, my pain, my reflections, my prayers, and my thankfulness. Punctuation hardly matters. I can be redundant. I can pen messy run-on sentences. The Audience doesn’t care. He knows my thoughts, so he understands what I mean. My journals are like praying.
Bible studies and theology, on the other hand, require extreme precision. When I’m writing about the inspired words of the Most High God, each word and idea must be treated with care. To communicate theology in bible study material, I rephrase theological language into the common vernacular, so the idea can be understood in plain English. The process is slow and careful.
Writing fiction is another beast altogether. When creating the rough draft, “fiction brain” is required. Think of burying yourself in a novel. Your imagination consumes you, as if you’re on location in a faraway place, right inside the tale. You cannot put the book down. You want to know what happens next. This mindset is required to draft a novel.
But to edit, you must team precision and careful word choices with fiction brain.
Every single word of a 300-page novel must be evaluated. Is the verb strong? Is the description moving without slowing the pace of the story? Is it appropriate for this spot in the narrative? Is this word in this sentence in this paragraph essential? If content is removed, does the story flow better? Does it need more or less? What must stay? What must go?
This is what I will be doing for the next several weeks. I approach this extremely important task while physically depleted, having been plagued with fatigue since early August, so I must focus all my best energy on doing this well, producing a page-turner, and meeting my deadline.
Therefore, for the next few weeks, my posts will be my reflections on how it’s going. They will be simple updates. I must stay in the zone. I may post long. I may post short. I have no way of knowing whether my fatigue and this task will play nice together.
Please bear with me during the coming weeks. It’s all part of the novel journey.
Top three photos licensed by Creative Commons.