Editing: Five [More] Tips for Surviving the Revision Process

by Pamela Jane on July 11, 2011

Editors on Editing LogoPost #9 – Women’s Memoirs, Editors on Editing – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler

[As you may know, Kendra and I are the Co-Coordinators for Story Circle Network’s Editorial Service that gives you easy access to a team of professional editors. These editors are attuned to the stories women write — memoirs as well as fiction. Your manuscript deserves respect…the best treatment…and an editor who understands you. That’s why SCN Editorial Service exists. When you’re ready for an editor, we’re ready for you.

We have an easy to understand fee structure, no open ended amounts or blank checks. Send either of us an email (kendra at womensmemoirs dot com or matilda at womensmemoirs dot com) and we’ll be glad to walk you through the process.

–Matilda

Today, Women’s Memoirs is delighted to bring you five tips from Pamela Jane Bell, a published author of 26 children’s books, that will help you sort through the editing comments an author gets back on her manuscript. This gives you a process for looking at and then making suggested changes. We think these will be helpful to you when you have an editor work with your memoir. Do you belong to a memoir writing critique group? If so, many of these suggestions will help you with the comments your sister writers provide.

You’ll notice that these are tips #6-#10. The first five tips have been published today on Story Circle Network’s blog, Telling Her Stories. Be sure to visit that site to read these helpful additional tips for revising a memoir based on the suggestions of an editor.

By Pamela Jane Bell

Over the past 30 years, I’ve received editing notes (they used to be letters that arrived in the mail) from a number of editors. While always valuable, these emails from editors can be overwhelming. Based on my experiences, I’ve put together a list of 10 tips for how to handle this post-editor revision process. To read the first five, click here.

6. Don’t worry about ruining your memoir11

This is a big one. Untangling the skein of a narrative can feel like you’re permanently unraveling it, or tying it in knots that you will never be able to undo. When you open your document, “save as” and give it a new name or date before you begin revising. It’s liberating to know that even if you do ruin it, you have the previous version intact.

7. Consult a friend or colleague

Ask a trusted friend or colleague to look over the editor’s suggestions and give you her reading on them. A friend can look at the criticism more objectively. If he or she is puzzled by the editor’s comments, that will encourage you to ask for clarification.

8. Pick up the telephone

But don’t throw it at anyone! Instead, call your editor. The give-and-take of a telephone conversation may be more productive than an email or a letter. Thinking out loud together can spark new ideas and lead to a solution or direction neither of you may have come up with alone.

9. Ask the editor to give the memoir manuscript a second look before you turn in the final revision or send it to an agent or decide to self-publish

It’s less intimidating to rewrite and revise knowing the editor will give your story a quick glance to see if you’re on the right track before you’ve finished revising. If you are not, that saves you a lot of rewriting. And if you are, you’ll move forward more confidently.

10. Don’t forget the house numbershouse numbers

For screenwriters, sticking a “house number” in a manuscript means inserting rough, inexact language to flag a spot that needs closer attention. Throwing in  “house numbers” where you need to revise or expand prevents you from getting slowed down when you’re composing at a nice, fast clip. Alternatively, some writers write in “TK” if they can’t think of the right word or need to do a spot of research at a later time. The letters “TK” don’t appear together in any English word, so when you want to fill in later, it’s easy to find your marker using the Find command.

These five tips are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how to survive – and triumph over – the revision process.

Do you have tips for successfully revising your memoir? Please leave us a comment; we’d love to share them with our readers!

To see the first half of this list of memoir revision tips, click on the link below:

The first five tips have been published today on Story Circle Network’s blog, Telling Her Stories.

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