Editorial vision and viewpoints for fiction writing can vary enormously depending on who you have hired to edit your novel, but once I agree to collaborate with a client on a manuscript, I am as ambitious as they are to improve and enhance a narrative.
Every working day, I step into the shoes of multiple characters and journey with them through their trials and tribulations, as I attempt to further develop the premise and plot of manuscripts and transform rough drafts into cohesive and coherent novels, fit for publication.
What is an editorial viewpoint?
The task of an editor is to draw out the strengths of a narrative and build on this whilst ensuring the author is fully aware of the manuscript’s weaknesses; believe me, there will be many!
But how easy is it to achieve this delicate balance of praising the positive aspects of a manuscript and pointing out the negatives? Let’s head straight to the process.
A professional editor at work
Initially, once I have read a manuscript, I then write line-to-line in-depth detailed comments in Word Track Changes, so the author can gain a better understanding of what they need to do to improve the quality of their writing alongside how to increase reader engagement. Questions like; what are the motives and actions of the main protagonist and are they believable? Does the plot have universal themes that will resonate with readers alongside the authenticity of character expression and dialogue?
Furthermore, I will consider if there are adequate plot signifiers in the first three chapters? Do these signifiers play out in the denouement, alongside such questions on the credibility of the premise, plot characterisation, location, setting, style, pace, and tone?
The ultimate editorial question!
However, the ultimate editorial question I ask myself is, is it a thought-provoking piece of fiction? Can the author really spin a yarn and how can that yarn be improved? I then take the narrative apart into its component pieces and rebuild it, by offering steadfast advice, not only in the mark up, but in a complimentary critical report.
With this, alongside the detailed edit, the author has all the guidance they need to transform their writing into a solid piece of commercial fiction.
What do I edit?
Throughout the summer, I edited fiction manuscripts from my home in Normandy. This was achieved mostly in a swimsuit (hence the featured image!) due to a sizzling summer. The weather was incredible, and the sun shone every single day, yet the novels I edited took me to different countries and settings, and all varied in genre,
I stepped into the world of a protagonist surviving the loneliness and desolation of vast Canadian forests. In the next manuscript, I walked side-by-side with a character attempting to navigate the corruption of the Chinese state. This would lead to his eventual oppression, whilst the next protagonist I developed fought the devil in the Arizona desert.
My editorial advice for creating a memorable protagonist
- Aim to avoid emotionally overburdening your protagonist with too much baggage.
- Create characters who are resilient and resourceful but still have human flaws.
- Avoid the use of melodramatic language and dialogue. Keep it real!
- Enrich them with qualities that make readers want them to survive whatever they are going through.
- Ensure they are given the autonomy they need to deliver your plot.
- Plant covert plot signifiers in your first three chapters that your reader will eventually recognize and connect the dots in your denouement.
The Editorial Big Picture
Overall, I felt the chill and desolation of the vast Canadian forests and sensed the humidity and dry heat of the Arizona desert. I felt acutely aware of the density and claustrophobia of a large, big brother Chinese province. Without walking side-by-side with all these wonderful and fascinating characters, and truly taking on board their role and function, there wouldn’t be any editorial vision or viewpoint. It’s having the ability to hear characters. To see them, and to understand what makes them tick. It is this that shapes and transforms a manuscript into a novel fit for publication.
Want to find out more about my editorial services?
You can read all about me here. Or get in touch to find out how I can help improve your manuscript. If you are looking for a creative and insightful developmental editor with real vision, then I just might be the right editor for you!