Editing Crimson Dahlia

With both of my previous two books, I’ve shared the various things that have come up in the editing process (Blue Violet and Hyacinth). It’s always been an interesting exercise for me and fun to share. Although, I will say that it’s also a little tricky since I don’t want my readers obsessing over catching my admitted “fix it” areas. Haha. But so far it hasn’t been a problem, and folks have shared that they enjoy the behind-the-scenes peek. Here are a few of the big ticket editing items this go round…

# of Powers – This one I painted myself into a corner on, I have to admit. With Blue Violet I gave Ellie so many powers, that in order to continue I had to top her somehow in each book. In addition, I’ve had to expand the world and add more characters – when I already had several. Consequently, the number of powers is growing. I’m keeping a handle on it – but only just barely. Even I forget about one or two here or there. You better believe in the next series of books I’ll start out a little simpler. Live and learn.

Reminders – With a series, when writing the later books, you always have to remind your readers about certain plot points, characters, powers, etc. that occurred in the previous books. I find that this is one of my least favorite parts of writing the series. Mostly because it’s really hard to do reminders without it sounding like a book report. Not super engaging, but fairly essential. And I have lots of facts to remind people about (all those powers and characters again!).

Fragments – This was a new issue for me with CD. I’ve always used fragments, but (hopefully) only judiciously. For some odd reason I used fragments a lot more this time around. I’m sure I drove my editor, Wendy, nuts having to point them out to me so much.

Chapter Endings – One of the best things I’ve learned from Wendy is the art of the cliff-hanger chapter ending – which basically means ending each chapter with enough suspense to keep the reader thinking, “Well just one more chapter.” Crimson Dahlia is the first book I wrote from beginning to end without skipping around a bunch. I found this awesome storyboarding software that really helped. So I tended to write in chapter chunks. Previously I wrote the entire book and then went through and did the chapter breaks. Wendy had to point out a lot of flat chapter endings that needed sprucing. So back to no chapter breaks until I’m done.

First Chapter – It is typical with Wendy as well as with my beta readers and critique group that the first chapter gets the most attention and the most critique. The reason is because you need to draw people into the story immediately, so you really try to beat that first chapter to death. Also, it’s the first the person doing the editing/critiquing is seeing of the story, so I find they start out more critical until they get into the flow of it – which is true of readers in general. I am super pleased to say that the first chapter of Crimson Dahlia came back with many less critiques (other than grammatical clean up) than my previous books. It was a really nice way to start out the editing process!

I would like to think that perhaps my writing is improving – always a goal with me – as I get more and more experience under my belt. At the same time, as I add more beta readers and critiquers, I have to hold on to my voice. Everyone has their own style, and I have to have confidence in mine while applying the various suggestions that come through. The suggestions are always very appreciated, but I have to look at them through my own voice and apply them when/how I feel is most right. So far, I’ve been lucky enough to have some very smart and helpful people on my side through the editing process. And I’m still loving every second of this journey.

So… those are the biggies from editing rounds on Crimson Dahlia. Of course, I’m still in the middle of it – going round two with Wendy and getting some of my last critique group feedback back. The 23rd will be really tight. I’m still aiming at it. But I may have to push it a week (hopefully not two). But I’d rather publish it well crafted than on time. Fingers crossed that I can do both!

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