How does one figure out when to hire an editor?

Carolyn W

Well-known member
May 31, 2019
576
329
I expect this topic is in the archives but my key word search didn't work-or maybe i didn't work it right.

I'm stuck on Act 3. I've got the first half of the book edited up as far as i feel i'm capable. I have half of the second half written but haven't finished my edit of it. I have most of Act 3 written and the sparse places are clear in my head.

I don't know how to count drafts. It certainly isn't the little short story I began with several years ago.

I noticed a comment Lynn made, I think on Greets to DF, that made getting an editor sound really nice. But at what point do I know I need an editor to help me finish? After i finish? Will i ever be confident I'm that finished?
 

Johne

Senior Member
Staff member
Sep 27, 2005
3,283
1,096
I'm stuck on Act 3. I've got the first half of the book edited up as far as i feel i'm capable. I have half of the second half written but haven't finished my edit of it. I have most of Act 3 written and the sparse places are clear in my head.

I don't know how to count drafts. It certainly isn't the little short story I began with several years ago.

I noticed a comment Lynn made, I think on Greets to DF, that made getting an editor sound really nice. But at what point do I know I need an editor to help me finish? After i finish? Will i ever be confident I'm that finished?
I can speak to this a little.
I was stuck in the third act of my golem detective novel. I'd written 3/4s of a strong first draft for NaNoWriMo in 2014, but got stuck at the big battle sequence I'd imagined at the climax, and already you may have noticed what my problem was. (What was an epic battle scene doing in a detective story?) I realized I was writing a Fantasy / Noir on the surface, and it was based on a Thriller foundation. I also realized I was trying to shoehorn an epic Action ending into a Thriller story, mixing genres. I realized I already had a good Thriller ending, cut the action scene, and it all fell into place. So I'd check your genre and make sure you're remaining consistent.

In 2020, I finished my first Draft and passed it along to an editor friend of mine. It wasn't cheap, but it was extremely helpful. She had it for a month and made extensive notes. On her suggestion, I rewrote the entire beginning hook to start more In Media Res, changed the first and last chapters to a Prologue and Epilogue in Third Person, and made sure the new content was written so that the scenes all contained the Five Commandments of storytelling and escalating Progressive Complications. I had such a good time that I continued and rewrote the entire novel over the next 14 months.

Overall, I say I wrote two Drafts (a new stem-to-stern treatment of the novel) and ten passes (where I focused on something specific).

Editor friends of mine say newbie writers write, professional writers ship. At some point in time, we have call it done, publish the work, and move onto the next thing. For me, that time is known. I'm preparing to send THE BLUE GOLEM to Beta readers, I'll work the edits that come out of that, I'll send the novel to the final line editor, and then I'll publish. That process is looking like an additional year of work unless I can pull that in a little, and I have a lot on my plate. But I know what my schedule looks like and what I need to do next, and that's all I need to know for now.
 
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Jeff Potts

Well-known member
Apr 5, 2019
1,578
982
Editor friends of mine say newbie writers write, professional writers ship. At some point in time, we have call it done, publish the work, and move onto the next thing.

Yeah, that's an important point. Once the story is down, the only thing you should be doing is:
  • Tweaking voice and language
  • Dealing with Grammar
  • Eliminating spelling errors
  • Patching holes in your plot.
My "first draft" of a book is an utter mess. My first revision cleans it all up. I might make a second pass to fix any consistency issues, but after that, you should only be tweaking the language elements.

Often times, when writing software, there is a temptation to "add more" to the next release. This is generally a dumb idea as you can run afoul with issues. Or - especially those with poor impulse control - to keep adding and tweaking stuff until it's "perfect," leading to failed deadlines, and a condition where you never stop tweaking stuff. This happens. I've seen it.

Unless you're God, nothing is ever "perfect." "Good" is good enough.
 

Johne

Senior Member
Staff member
Sep 27, 2005
3,283
1,096
My "first draft" of a book is an utter mess. My first revision cleans it all up.
Nod. I've discovered I only figure out what my Controlling Idea is after I've finished the first draft and can step back and look at the novel as a whole.

For instance, I realized two things after finishing my first draft: one, it was going to take more than one draft to have a publishable work (heh, cry), and two, I'd written a story about dealing with Imposter Syndrome. Once I had those two things in mind, I could go back and tweak the story into something a little more readable, a little more meaningful.
 

FeatherPen

Active member
May 8, 2022
197
183
I do very few drafts myself having developed a method for myself. Instead I keep a running list of problems with the book, then go in and make notations on where they should be. Then I go back an “inject” those paragraphs or lines to make up the shortfall. It might be one sentence, or a whole chapter

When the novel is done, then I go back and “blend” everything so everything flows right when reading.

I cannot seem to find as many errors on the computer screen as I do in print, so I print out my novel and correct the errors with a high lighter and then go onto the computer to fix them.

For me anyway, rereading and editing is not that productive. I need to get the story down on paper first, then the magic happens in the editing stage. I use excel to ensure chapter by chapter I got the content right

Then blend it all so it’s smooth reading.

Then I get an editor.
 

Carolyn W

Well-known member
May 31, 2019
576
329
Thanks for sharing your encouraging example. It sounds a lot like my experience and makes me want to keep going at it but being more contented to simply "inject" bits until i get this whole revision done. I think I'd be finished but i added a main character January '21 and he's not in my final chapters yet:/ But it would've been a very different story without him and i like the way it's going, so I'll keep injecting his experience👍🏼
 

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