Releasing Your Words by A. M. Burns
The writer’s craft can often be a very complex and emotional one. We spend hours working on a scene, months to years working on a novel. Over the process, we become attached to each of the carefully chosen words, sentences, paragraphs and scenes in our works. After all our hard labor, we release our labor of love, that for some authors means more to them than anything else in the world, into the hands of our editors and beta readers. That’s when all the trouble really begins.
Too often authors, particularly beginning authors get overly attached to each word in a manuscript. When the word comes back from your editor or beta readers that things need to be changed your first response is inexplicably “No! that has to stay!” The words, sentence, scene or whatever is so important to the plot that they all have to stay. You didn’t send your work out to an editor to have them actually edit it did you? No, you sent it out to your editor and readers to have them tell you how wonderful it was.
If you paid an editor, either in cash or time exchange and don’t want their opinion then why did you bother? You just wasted your time and theirs. Most editors, that are worth their salt, know what they’re doing. They have more than a basic knowledge of the English langue and might actually have an idea or two about how stories are suppose to flow. Now, I’m not saying I always agree with what my editor has to say, but I value her opinion and most of the time she has a point when she’s suggesting a change. And that is the key idea here, editors make suggestions. You can take them or leave them. Do the suggestions make the work stronger? Does the editor miss the point of a particular scene? If your editor misses the point of the scene, the chances are that your readers will too. It may just need a little clarifying. Sometimes it’s easy to clarify with just a few words or an added sentence.
Your beta readers may not be the langue expert that your editor should be, but still, listen to their ideas, don’t just shrug them off as folks that don’t know anything about literature. If they don’t know anything about literature, why did you send them your work to read in the first place? Even if they can’t tell where ever comma should be, they can still point out plot holes, character flaws and other things that are important to good story telling. Again, listen to them. Take what they say, weigh it out in your mind and see what you can do to make your manuscript better.
In today’s world, full of self published, and or unedited works, make your work shine. If you self publish, get an editor and listen to them. If you can’t afford an editor find a critique group either live or online and listen to what they have to say. You don’t have to take everything they have to say as gospel, actually please don’t. Some of these folks have their own pet peeves that have no grounding in reality, you have to learn who to listen to. One of the things I use to tell me if something coming out of a beta read or critique group needs to be changed is if more than one person says the same thing. Then it’s something that will annoy more than a couple of readers, and you don’t want to do that.
Don’t get overly attached to any part of your work, as it matures and passes through other people’s hands, you’ll find it growing and changing in ways you never would’ve thought of back when it was just a few small pixels resting in your computer. And like that human child that you helped shape into a thriving adult, when you’re all said and done, the finished product may turn out somewhat different than how you originally envisioned it. If you are a serious writer, you will ask yourself if this final vision is stronger than your first version was. In most cases, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” Release the unneeded and unnecessary words and ideas, trim things down to make your story easier to read and the readers will reward you.
A.M. Burns Bio
A.M. Burns lives in the Colorado Rockies with his partner, several dogs, cats, horses, and birds. When he’s not writing, he’s often fixing fences, hiking in the mountains, or flying his hawks. You can find out more about A.M. and his writing at www.amburns.com, or follow him on tiwitter @am_burns
“Perfect Trouble” book 2 in the E.S. Peters Investigation Series
When Connor Wildman opens a portal to another world in his closet, Ethan Samuel Peters is called in to find the young man. With his trusty werewolf partner, Dusty, at his side, Ethan enters the portal and finds himself in the realm of Fairie. The realm beyond the portal is in chaos due to Connor’s unauthorized visit. Ethan must fight his way through angry elves and emboldened trolls to reunite Connor with his family, while trying to stop the Fairie Queen from declaring war on Earth. Meanwhile, can Ethan’s assistant Tiffany find the person responsible for the theft of sacred objects all over
Dallas? The second book in the
E.S. Peters investigations series brings even more action than the first and
delves deeper into an elegant cast of characters.
I went back to the circle in the sand. The outer symbols were drawn out as Dusty and three wereotters hoisted the kraken up out of the river and carried him toward me.
Now to say that a kraken is ugly is like saying that Hugh Jackman is attractive. It’s a gross understatement. The creature was foul. At first it smelled like a river full of rotten fish. Then I realized that the odor was just the river water running off its scaly hide. Odd protuberances, almost like small tentacles, coved its body. It’s long tail drug the ground, even though Dusty and the otters had it hoisted on their massive shoulders. A rusty chain that one of them had found and used to bind the OD also drug along behind them.
I stepped aside as they carried the kraken into the circle. I quickly redrew the line that the tail and chain smudged. Then I finished the inner circle that would bind the kraken until I finished the banishing spell to send it back to the watery dimension that spawned it.
Dusty gave the OD a hard fist to the head and it slumped to the ground inside the inner circle. He made sure that neither the rusty chain nor any of the kraken’s appendages crossed the lines of the circle.
Once I was sure that the inner circle was complete and should hold the kraken, I turned back to Dusty and wereotters, who had all returned to their human forms. I could only assume that the otters were brothers. I’d go so far as to say that they were probably triplets. They were tall and lean, standing at least six foot four with shoulder-length golden blond hair and strange blue eyes. Unlike Dusty who’d returned to his human form fully clothed, the otters stood there on the sand in their full Nordic glory. Their broad chests and washboard abs were lightly dusted with short blond hairs, leading down to impressive packages. I must say, back a couple of years ago before I met Dusty, I would’ve been tempted to take on the three of them if they were interested.
Dusty was explaining to them that if they stayed in the circle, they’d need to be quiet and make sure not to break it. Two identical heads shook and two of the young men shifted back to their otter forms and raced back toward the river.
“Magic just doesn’t catch a wave with them,” the remaining blond explained as he extended a large stubby hand to me. “Oliver Bjorn, Oli, to me mates.”
I returned his somewhat damp grasp. “Ethan Peters.”
His deep blue eyes grew large. “E.S. Peters. Dude, it’s such an honor that our currents have crossed.”
Good article, Andy.
Thanks Dawn for the opportunity to reach out to your readers.
Thanks Alix, I'm glad you enjoyed the blog.
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