The Task Expands to Fit the Time Allowed

Elaine Forrestal with manuscript of Goldfields Girl

I’m nudging up against the deadline when my changes to the structural edit of my manuscript, Goldfields Girl, have to go back to my editor. Yes, this is the same manuscript that used to be called Life Blood, but that’s what a structural edit is all about. Going over the manuscript line by line and questioning everything, including the title.

I’m not very good at titles. I usually want them to be catchy, a little poetic, metaphorical, personal. Of course that’s not what the marketing people at publishing houses want. For them it has to be practical, easy to remember, enticing, and to tell the potential reader something about the story. Fine. I may not be good at titles, but I am good at listening to the people in the Marketing Department. They are the experts and I’m happy to hand the task over to them. In any case, I’m much more interested in what’s inside the cover than what’s on it. That’s why I love the whole editing process. I love the words, their multiple meanings, their rhythm and the way they look on the page. I’m interested in the characters and making them come to life. In Clara Saunders’ case in bringing her back to life. The catch is, once I have done that I don’t want to let her go. That’s why, for me, the serious editing phase of any book never really ends – until it has a cover. After that I know I will have to live with it. I dare not read it again for fear of regretting my final choices. But hey, a deadline is useful. It forces me to let go, to stop agonising over every thing. Without it I would go on changing things for ever, just trying to go deeper and deeper into the story and to hold on to the characters I have come to love.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates.

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