The Write Way Café welcomes Jami Gray. Her editors provide insights and suggestions, guiding her to become a more successful writer.
I love my editors. That's right, I am proud to announce I have more than one, more like five to six if you combine both sets from Black Opal and MuseIt Up. If you're not familiar with what happens to your favorite book after your author types "#END#", here's a quick run down.
The poor baby begins a weight loss program. The first round will beat that baby down until it's bawling in a corner. The second round will coax it out, wipe its nose, then proceed to show it tough love with some very straightforward talk. After some pouting, the story will straighten up, and face down the last round--where the final, professional polish will be applied--hair combed, pants pressed, shoes polished. Because of this, some writers have a love/hate relationship with their editors, they just love to hate them even as they lovveee the final product.
This past summer in preparation for combining all four of my Kyn books into one printed volume, my editor asked me to go back over the books and ensure there were no specks of dust on my shiny baby. Since she’s my editor, I didn’t refuse.
Know what I found? The difference between the fourth book of the series, Shadow's Curse and the first, Shadow's Edge is...well...tremendous. As in, if I was doing the first book now with what I've learned, it might be a very different novel, but I digress.
In 2011, I got my first round of edits back on Shadow's Edge. I spent at least a week solid going over every point raised, making notes on style (don't make this passive, show don't tell), and pondering each question my editor poised. This turned into long discussions via track changes in Word through all three editing rounds until I finally I let the little bugger go, freeing it to walk on its own. It's very difficult, as a new author, to release your clutching hold and see your story as a new reader, because you've breathed, cried, and screamed at it for so long. Move ahead six months to the second book in the Kyn series, Shadow's Soul, this time the track change discussions we're down to "got it", "yep, I can see that", or "What about this?".
Then came Shadow's Moon, the third installment, and one of the biggest reasons I love my editors. Every bit of feedback I got from my editors on the first two books pushed me to look at my craft critically and asked myself, what can I do to strengthen my writing? Challenge myself as a writer? Create something really cool for my readers?
I decided I wanted to change character perspective for my third book since Gavin and Raine needed some breathing room. Plus, well, I was challenged to write a romance. (Challenge me will you?) Not only did I want Shadow's Moon to focus on the evolving relationship between Xander and Warrick, but I decided to mix it up even more, I did two points of views instead of my normal one. It wasn't easy, but it did teach me quite a bit about what I still had to learn and practice.
Then, mid 2013 when I handed off Shadow's Moon and the proposal for book four, Shadow's Curse, to Black Opal's caring hands, I decided to pause before starting Shadow's Curse. I'd been living in the Kyn universe for a long time, much longer than the publication dates on the books. Other characters and worlds were pestering me for their spotlight. Add in the fact I write from limited third person point of view, and at one time wrote Shadow's Edge completely from Raine's POV (oh yes, much therapy was needed after that), I decided to brave the wild new frontier of first person point of view.
Not as a New Adult story where first person seems prevalent, but in an adult Paranormal Romantic Suspense story, one where I could explore my love of military suspense and paranormal abilities. But here was my challenge—I didn't want every damn sentence to star with "I" . Come on, if all you hear is "I, I, I..." you may wanted to gouge out said "I's" eyes. It wasn't easy, it was difficult, enough so I almost gave up, but finally, FINALLY, I finished Hunted By The Past and it became part of the MuseItUp family. It also created a new series, the PSY-IV Teams.
Then while working through the toughest Kyn book yet, Shadow's Curse and the fiendishly difficult Natasha, I got hit with the edits for Shadow's Moon and Hunted in one fell swoop. Anxious, I opened up the track changes, leery I may soon find myself curled up in a whimpering pile in front of my computer. Instead I got something better. Both editors left me notes, really heart warming ones, on how much my writing had deepened and how much they were touched by the story. And this hardhearted wench of words, got a little bleary. There were still discussions and muttered comments (not in Track Changes because I didn't want a hit put out on me), but I'm still loving my editors, because they are still providing me insight on things I can do better, ways to consider things differently, and how to ultimately become a more successful writer.
So when the conversation arises among my partners in writing plots about what makes a successful writer, my first answer is: EDITORS.
Whether you're Indie or Traditional or any mixture of writer, an editor can only help you. Not only can they give you an unbiased opinion on your work (Like my question prior to writing Touched by Fate of "So I'm going to change the POV on Book 2 of PSY-IV, you're okay with that right?”), they will keep your story straight, catch when you add an extra arm, leave a character standing at the side of the road, or catch when your character decides to not only change hair color but their height (w/o shoes), your editor will be the first one to push you off that cliff of what ifs when you can't get your feet to move. Because if you want to be a successful writer, you need to continue to grow your craft and your skill set. Otherwise--same story, different....you get the picture.
Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. She can be soothed with coffee and chocolate. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.
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Amazon Author Page Black Opal Books Muse It Up Publishing
You can find all the buy links for both The Kyn Kronicles and PSY-IV Teams, in all formats at: