This latest round of editing on All the Paths of Shadow has taught me one thing. Well, two things. First of all, I need to pay more attention to Point-of-view (POV) shifts. And second, I need to stop using the word 'gaggle' more than once a week.
It doesn't bother me to jump from one head to the next in a book. Probably because I run through at least nine different personalities in my own head each and every day. There's Work Frank, there's Hungry Frank and Grumpy Frank, there's Distracted Frank and Frank Who Is Listening To Pink Floyd In His Head And Who Can't Be Bothered With Anything Else Right Now. Mainly the latter. I like Pink Floyd.
But that's no way to write a book. Pick a POV and stick with it, unless you have a good reason to switch, and just cracking a joke is not a good reason.
And repetition of words. I'm bad about that. Worse, I have trouble spotting the repetitions later, which means they slip past my own internal editor, who is apparently spending a lot of time with Frank Who Is Listening To Pink Floyd In His Head And Who Can't Be Bothered With Anything Else Right Now.
Which is why I'm lucky that my books aren't self-published. Because if they were, I might never have spotted some serious issues with the prose and the structure.
Fortunately, I'm paired with some very accomplished editors (Beth at Samhain, Christine at Cool Well) who see what I don't or can't, and flag it for discussion.
I've read a lot of comments by self-pubbed authors who claim they're glad they don't have to submit their works to any sort of editorial process. This gives them full creative freedom, they claim, and I suppose they have just that.
Maybe it works for them. But I've come to realize that it most certainly does not work for me.
Markhat wouldn't have Darla, for instance, if Beth hadn't suggested that certain events in the original manuscript of Hold the Dark play out quite differently. And Beth was right -- if I'd insisted on keeping the original chain of events, the whole series would be floundering right now.
We're still editing All the Paths of Shadow, and already it's much improved from the original because Christine has spotted several gaffes I'd have gleefully left intact.
It's not that I'm a sloppy writer. I'm not. But I'm human, and I make mistakes, and then later I tend to read what I meant to write, and not what's actually on the screen.
My point, if indeed I have one, is this -- the next time you read a really good book, say a quick word of thanks to the editor who helped bring it to life. Even if the editor's name isn't on the cover, I assure you that they helped shape the book just as surely as the author.
I'm not against self-publishing, mind you. I've self-pubbed a few of my own previously sold titles just for fun. But when people ask me now why I don't just go straight to Kindle, I'll have a better answer than 'Uh, well, er, hmm.'
Two heads are indeed better than one, especially when one of the heads in question is mine!