Editing A Published Book: Handbook For Mortals, Part 1

August 19, 2018


(See my Introduction to the series here. )



A structural edit on Handbook for Mortals.


Look. Scandal aside, this book was not ready for publication.

This doesn't even encompass the entire first chapter. It's just half of it. Between chapter 0 and 1, which are the first two chapters, there's ten thousand words. These comments cover just a little over 1700 words. 


This is killing my soul. But in possibly foolish optimism, I think even this book can be readable. 

Maybe. *she squeaks uncertainly*



And now we begin. The first post in this ambitious series. 

(Pray for me.)



It starts off with Chapter 0, the chapter title, and pictured here are the first three lines of the book. (If I put the text and comments side by side, both are too small to read.) 







This is how I start a structural edit; making comments in the margins as I read. A lot of comments doesn't necessarily mean a book is bad, it just means there's a lot of opportunity to improve. 


But not in this case. This work is rock solid stench. I plan on rewriting the first two chapters to attempt to make something co-cohesive out of them...but....but...how? 


Most of it is exposition. *I whine*


Listen. I don't rail against exposition or adverbs. No. It's all about telling a story that'll engage your reader. It's about balancing the elements. Most of the exposition in this case is going to be cut because its not details the reader needs to know. One could argue that it adds to voice. But no it doesn't. Shut up, One, you don't know what you're talking about. 


Everything about these three lines irritates me. And you know what? It probably is because of the scandal. I was trying to treat her like I would a client but honestly I've never had a client whose writing was this bad. And even if I did I wouldn't be annoyed by them. Because they recognize their book needs work and are taking the steps necessary to further their goal. 


Lani just shat this out and we're all stuck with this steaming pile. She cheated her way on to The New York Times Bestselling List and I probably wouldn't even be angry if the book was good. 


Have I made enough poop references yet?


There will probably be more. 


These are my comments:





So many cliches. 






Why? Why is she going on about the other side being AstroTurf? Really?






*deep sigh*


She read this and was like, "Yes, this is it. My masterpiece."?


Knowing that this story was originally a screenplay that Sarem was encouraged to turn into a book, I would say that how this is written is more like a script. Sarem is seeing the camera moving through the quaint town, showing the quiet street with the intricately decorated Victorian homes that have seen better days, Zade (MC) is loading duffel bags into the trunk of her clunker, and all this exposition is supposed to be narration.


I can see it. I don't have a whole lot of experience with scripts but I have enough to know that the exposition here sounds a lot like art direction or storyboard set up. 


Be that as it may, this is a novel not a script. Imagery is set up differently in novels. There's not one right way, of course, but there's probably more wrong ways than there are right ways and this is definitely one of the wrong ways. 


I feel like at this point my comments are getting a bit punchy. 



And it's just...