The Editor’s Motto: Leave No Mistakes Behind

Leave No Mistakes Behind

In my final preparations to publish Shell Game, I felt like the editing and revision process would never end. The more I changed my prose, the more I needed to re-read it to guarantee my motto: leave no mistakes behind. It’s part of the process, but I didn’t realize how tedious it can be. To my chagrin, some typos still slipped through. However, I know this happens to everyone. I have seen typos appear in books by indie writers, but also within books from big publishing houses. Despite the knowledge that no one is perfect, little errors loom large in my OCD/Perfectionist/Anesthesiologist soul (where mistakes just can’t happen). 

Getting Honest Feedback

As a new writer, I sought a second pair of eyes to review the concept of my plot and how my characters were developed. I wanted to know if I had created the bones of a story that could engage readers and later become a series of books. It was a great investment. I received honest feedback about the premise, my storytelling style, and a number of plot points. Most importantly, I got the introduction that I needed to how one edits for story improvement, resulting in a novel that shines.

A Shared Vision

I ended up working with two different editors who did developmental and later, content work. In terms of editing, I think the biggest ‘must have,’ and one that I feel fortunate to have now, is an editor who believes in your vision and direction for your novel. Not to mention, finding someone who loves your protagonist as much as you do.

After working tirelessly to get my manuscript ready for publication, I truly understand the phrase “artistic differences” in describing conflicting thematic and stylistic points of view.  To write a page turner, you first have to be on the same page as your creative and artistic support people!

Find an Editor So You Can Focus on the Artistic Process

The line and style edits (spacing, punctuation) were the most tedious and voluminous edits, and the ones for which I was most grateful for my current editor, Mia Walshaw. Formatting or looking at the spacing of the printed page is not even close to book editing. I was quite happy to concentrate on the artistic aspects of writing and composition and allow my editor to take care of the technical aspect — the grammar, syntax, consistency of tense, and repetition of words or phrases. 

At some point in the process, you have to “push go” on your project, which can feel like the scariest prospect of all. Is everything perfect? Have I missed anything critical? Mia and I went back and forth, comparing our versions. Finally, we were both satisfied. All of the T’s were crossed and the I’s were dotted. In other words, every comma was in place and we pushed that “Publish” button. 

Now that was a happy day!


What Music Inspires You?

Even writers have off days. Sometimes, the words don’t flow easily or the ideas are blocked. This can be true for me when I try to write on the same day that I’m in medical practice. To tap into my creativity, I have to put my technical mind to rest. To do so, I search for inspiration through music.What music inspires you?

For me, combining time outdoors with music gets a big thumbs. When I add a physical activity, then I’m on a roll. With earbuds in place, I set out. Walking my dog or plain just walking, hiking, or swimming, those are the ways I find creativity. In fact, I wrote this blogpost outside, under an umbrella. It didn’t matter that it was raining, I was inspired.

Mood Music

Of course, my earbuds were secure and the music was blasting. Once I get into my writing zone, I find myself seeking a song to fit the scene I’m writing. I can physically be anywhere — my home, a coffeeshop, by a pool — as long as I have my “writing music” on, I find what inspires me. Music helps me create my characters, and it’s a method used by other authors too.

Shell Game Playlist

I comprised several playlists while writing Shell Game since I had a wide range of characters with distinct personalities and interests. For me, the right song can solve dialogue and behavior roadblocks. A prime example is the character of Blake Myers. I knew that I wanted my strong female protagonist to have an equally strong male protagonist that would lead towards something more than a business partnership. Nevertheless, I found it difficult to create a person to fit with my female lead, Taryn, without superseding her personality. I also wanted someone whose character and voice would evolve as he and Taryn got to know each other’s attributes and faults. Maintaining this dynamic tension would be integral to Shell Game and subsequent books in the series. Creating believable, multidimensional characters would only enhance the medical suspense and thriller tale I would weave.

Classical to Country

I am a musical polyglot. I enjoy listening to everything from classical to country, rap to rock, electronica to reggae, and yes, even grunge. Putting my music library on shuffle can end up with some interesting selections back to back. The shuffle play action is how I ended up with music that helped me write about and learn Blake Myers. The song “Real Good Man” by Tim McGraw sealed the deal. I heard that song on a day when I had written and discarded more pages than I care to admit. I was trying to figure out how Taryn and Blake met and instantly came into conflict. With that song, everything about Blake clicked and the writing flowed. Soon after, I made a Blake playlist to go with my Taryn playlist. 

Some of my ‘Taryn’ songs included:

  • “Good as it Gets” by Beth Hart.
  • “Beautiful Stranger” by Madonna
  • “Freedom” by Beyonce

To find the right mindset to create intrigue, spying, and crazy characters came from:

  • “Furious Angels” by Rob Dougan
  • “Saladin” by Hybrid
  • “Mumbai Power” by Skrillex
  • “I’m on Everything” by Bad Meets Evil 

The right music can transport me and help me see my characters and plot with clarity. My personal writing soundtrack changed as I perfected my manuscript, and was as fun to curate as the book was to write.