Friday, June 25, 2010

Manuscript Triage by Erica Vetsch

There’s nothing like typing “The End” on a manuscript you’ve labored, sweated, cried, griped, toiled, and lost sleep over.
In that blessed moment, you sink back in your desk chair, wrists limp, mouth slack, and you sigh. When three seconds of afterglow have come and gone, you’re bolt-upright, opening your email, and sending that beautiful precious manuscript off to your critique partners where they shall tenderly receive it with tears of gratitude. (snort!)
Then you sit back and wait for the accolades to roll in, right?

Not if you have my crit partners. (Big old grin here.) Not that they don’t give me lots of atta-girls and way-to-gos, but they also tell me the truth—a truth that is sometimes difficult to hear.

“Um, dear, your baby is ugly and in need of some serious work.”


Then the rewrites begin. (Well, after a little pouting and panic on my part.)
Twice in the last year, I’ve had to do serious rewrites on one of my manuscripts. Once at the behest of one of my editors and once at the behest of my crit partners who each pointed out some glaring problems with the stories. It was NOT pretty.

When staring into the gaping maw of the editing monster, it is so easy to get paralyzed by feelings of fear, discouragement, and an overwhelming desire to stuff your face with Lady Godiva Chocolates (or plain old baking chocolate if that’s all you’ve got on hand) and call it a day on this whole writing thing. Your mind races with so many questions.

Where do you start?
How will you ever fix it?
Should you scrap the whole thing and begin anew?
Is there any life left in your manuscript?

After your head stops reeling and your ego pulls its tattered self together enough to think straight, it’s time to get busy on editing. It’s time for some manuscript triage.
First of all, what is Triage?

Triage: the process of sorting victims, as of a battle or disaster, to determine medical priority in order to increase the number of survivors.

Pretty apt description of what needs to be done to a first draft, eh? Issues need to be attacked in the order of “most likely to result in the death of the patient.” Just as an emergency room doctor wouldn’t treat a stubbed toe before a gunshot victim, or aid someone with a sore throat before a car accident victim, so you shouldn’t be worried about punctuation before characterization or formatting before plot.

So, how do you go about triaging your manuscript and attacking the biggest issues first? I use the L-CARP method. (Coined by me and pronounce El-Carp, not Le-Crap, which is what you might consider your manuscript when you start the editing process.)
A. Logic & Plausibility – This involves the entire manuscript. You’re editing with a broad brush here, searching for holes in your plot. Fortunately for me, I have an editor, Rachel Overton, who is so logical, she makes a slide-rule look sloppy. She picks out the places in the manuscript that lack logic or stretch plausibility. There is nothing that will kill your manuscript faster than an illogical, never-in-a-million-years kind of plot that doesn’t hold together, not even in your fictional world. Inconsistencies in the plot and plausibility will destroy your credibility with your readers. When you read through your manuscript, you should be able to map out the plot points, turning points, crisis points, and points of character change. See if they flow logically and plausibly.

B. Characterization – Again, fortunately for me, one of my crit partners, Katie Ganshert, is very gifted a dissecting and diagnosing character issues. One of the manuscripts I had to rework recently had serious character issues. The heroine was a wimp, and the hero was un-likeable! Yikes! Katie gave me some awesome ideas for motivating my hero so the reader would sympathize with him, and ways to make the heroine more interesting, less long-suffering and full of real emotions. Characterization issues will sink your manuscript. Pay particular attention to what an objective reader says about your characters. Make sure the people in your stories are properly motivated for the way they are behaving, as this will make even the most recalcitrant hero understandable and relatable. Make sure your characters are interesting, unique, and memorable.
C. Action – This is where you move from considering story-wide issues to individual scenes and paragraphs. Author Elmore Leonard is credited with this sage writing advice: “Leave out the parts people skip.” Good advice! Evaluate every scene, every paragraph. Is it necessary? Is it passive? Is it boring? Is it loaded down with too much description or narration? Are you showing or telling? Are you in deep POV or are will your reader feel remote from the action, watching instead of experiencing? Keep the action moving, and don’t sacrifice story on the altar of beautiful words. A passage may be the most poignant and stunning piece of writing you’ve ever created, but if it isn’t active, necessary, and moving the story forward, it’s got to go.

D. Repetition – This is the step where you go from scenes and paragraphs to sentences and words. My critique partner, Georgiana Daniels, is phenomenal at picking up on the words I tend to use, reuse, and overuse. I seem to have a new handful of words and phrases for each book. (Example, in the most recent round of critiques, everyone’s jaw was tightening, falling open, clenching...After awhile, it got funny...I kept hearing JAWS music while reading the critique! She finally said, Enough with the jaw action already!) And Katie picked up that I had described someone’s touch as ‘light as thistledown’ three or four times over the course of the book. When you’re writing, you’re so close to the work, you can’t always see repetitive words and phrases. This is where critique partners are invaluable. This is also the time to check for overkill. Trust your readers to ‘get’ what you’re trying to say. Use a light touch with themes, spiritual lessons, clues, etc.

E. Polishing – This is the final step of the process. You’ve solved the major issues, straightened out plot and logic snarls, properly motivated your characters and made sure their actions are consistent, double-checked POV, showing vs. telling, and weeded out the slow parts. You’ve killed repetitive words and phrases, resisted the urge to hammer home the ‘meaning’ of your novel. In this last step, you’re tweaking here and there, checking spelling and punctuation, formatting and spacing. This is the last chance to make the story really shine.

There you have it. The L-CARP method of triaging a manuscript in need of editing. Start with the places that are bleeding the most, the ones that will kill your manuscript first, and gradually work toward the less-serious issues. Just as you wouldn’t treat a hangnail before a knife wound, tackle the biggest issues first, working your way down to the more cosmetic issues by the end of the process.
Happy Editing!

ERICA VETSCH is married to Peter and keeps the company books for the family lumber business. A home-school mom to Heather and James, Erica loves history, romance, and storytelling. Her ideal vacation is taking her family to out-of-the-way history museums and chatting to curators about local history. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Calvary Bible College in Secondary Education: Social Studies. You can find her on the web at On the Write Path
Leave a comment describing your editing process so we can learn from each other, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Clara and the Cowboy, Erica’s May release from Heartsong.

From the back cover of Clara and the Cowboy.
Alec’s had to prove himself his entire life.
From his abusive, alcoholic father to the townspeople who treat him as if he’s cut from the same cloth to the insecurities that fill his own head, nothing he ever does is good enough. So how can he possibly let himself be in love with the boss’s daughter? And why on earth would she have declared her love for him?
In a fit of pique, Clara did indeed declare her love for Alec. And his flat, decisive rejection—even as his face and hands and lips denied his words—nearly broke her heart. Why can’t Alec look beyond the circumstances of his childhood to see the honorable man he’s become?
When Clara’s life is threatened by dangerous cattle rustlers, will Alec finally discover the answers he’s been seeking? If he lets go of the past, can he trust God for the future?

Thank you to all the lovely ladies of Seekerville for having me here again, and special thanks to Mary Connealy. You’re such a gracious mentor and friend. Can’t wait to see you later this summer when they FINALLY let us do a book signing together again. 
Clara and the Cowboy is available through the Heartsong Presents website. Because it's part of a book club it's hard to get anywhere else for the first few months, but you can find Erica's first book, The Bartered Bride


Amber S. said...

Oh, this was really helpful! Great advice--and I just love acronyms! :) Yay for "L-CARP!"

I admire your dedication. It's scary to think of your work out there, needing to be edited. That's an overwhelming thought! I'll have to keep all of this in mind for later on, because I think I need to actually finish the manuscript first before I apply "L-CARP." ;) But right now I would say that I definitely agree with having another person look at your work, because sometimes you don't even realize that part of the story doesn't really work or make much sense (because it makes sense in your own mind!). :)

Thanks for the chance to win your book! I absolutely love the cover! :D

Does anybody want some of those cookies you just put on a cookie sheet and bake? I realize that I could be seen as lazy--but hey, they're yummy! ;) And these ones are patriotic--with American flags! Getting close to July 4!

Have a great weekend everyone!


KC Frantzen said...

Good morning all!

Thank you for stopping by Erica. LOVE your book cover and story. And wow - a book signing with Mary! What a treat!!

On my editing process (like I'm all experienced or something... I'm still "pre-published"!) - what I have done so far is read through for a couple of things and fix along the way.

Then I learn something else to do, and read through for that. It's been a 3 yr painful process but the ms. is MUCH improved over last year at this time.

I've done all I know to do with it. Gracious friends and acquaintances have looked over portions of it... (I even won a Seekerville critique from the infamous RUTHY - which was a big help and she was so encouraging too - there. I said it.)

But it was time to take it to the next level so it is currently at a wonderful writing coach. Can't WAIT to see how she slashes and burns it - it definitely needs some triage! But I hope at the end of this process, that it will be ready to query and get that ball rolling.

Your post today is one of those super-duper keepers from Seekerville so to the printer we go.

Agreed Amber, everyone have a great weekend!

Amber S. said...

Oops! I forgot to leave my e-mail! ;)


Thanks again!


KC Frantzen said...

Sheesshhhh. Me too!

may at maythek9spy dot com

night owls, night night!

Amber S. said...

That's too funny, KC! ;)

It's not TOO late here on the West Coast, but yes, I could definitely be considered a night owl! ;)

Have a great night's sleep!


Renee said...

I so read that as le crap! ;) I'm in the process of revising two manuscripts, or I should be. I keep finding myself distracted.

I love all of your steps, especially the characterization. My eyes are really being opened on how to deepen characterization.

Your blurb sounds wonderful. I look forward to reading it.

Hmmm, Ruthy, I got the coffee started. I didn't know if you wanted decaf or regular so I mixed them together. I hope that is okay. ;) For us non-coffee drinkers there is freshly squeezed orange juice straight from the grove.

Edwina said...

This was such a helpful post! I love the L-CARP method that will definitely help turn my wip from Le-Crap into something that will work!
Thanks for the cookies- great with my first cup of java!


Sandy Elzie said...

Great post! It was like a mini workshop. Yes, I also have had a manuscript that needed triage...a couple that needed CPR!

Better for your critique partner to make the manuscript bleed red than the editor. (although my editor did a great job of finding the rough areas needing life pumped into them.

Thanks for all the great info, I'll be printing out the article and keeping it to refer to later.

Sandy Elzie

Janet Dean said...

Erica, welcome back to Seekerville! It's always great to have you and your wisdom here. Thanks for showing us how to take owie to wowie!! I'm grateful for my critique partner and my editor's fresh eyes.

I brought zuccini bread warm from the oven with butter.


Kirsten Arnold said...

Erica, Thanks for the great post. I'm just starting triage on my first ms and there are some places where I think it's flatlined, and I'm having to use high voltage shock to get it going again. :o)

Thanks for sharing your method for editing. L-CARP is the word of the day.

Clara and the Cowboy sounds like a great read!


Audra Harders said...

It's Friday and Erica is our guest!! This is indeed, a wonderful day : )

Okay, important stuff first. I've brought coffee...lots of coffee, with a variety of creamers for those indulgent souls -- and FF milk for those of us who rather spend our calories on (drum roll, please)...

A waffle, blintze, crepe and pancake buffet!

Only for Fridays, gotta celebrate the end of another work week : )

Erica, I loved your post! I really need a *Rachel* in my life. Logic isn't something I engage when writing my first draft. Thankfully, I have a Leslie and Theresa of my own who constantly ask *what in the world are you thinking??*

Fortunately for me, I'm not married to any of my words. But, I need someone I TRUST to tell me what needs to be surgically removed, transplanted, or served a transfusion.

Trust is such an important factor. I found more folks eager to tell me what was wrong with my manuscripts, but if you don't feel they have the same vision you do, politely nod and make the approriate noises, then run the other way and find someone who will see your story as you intend and understand the message you're trying to get across.

Great post! Thanks for joining us today, Erica!

CJ said...

I love your approach. LeCrap the mispronunciation will have me giggling all day

Sally Kilpatrick said...

What a wonderfully entertaining and timely post--I just finished a manuscript that I am currently ignoring. Hopefully, it's not bleeding to death.

This post is a keeper!

Sally Kilpatrick said...

oops! I forgot to leave my e-mail, too. I was too busy going back to make sure I hadn't "sacrificed story on the altar of beautiful words." : )

Erica Vetsch said...

Good Morning!

Amber, it IS scary to have your work out there for someone else to pick over, but I feel so much more confident after 'the girls' go over it. I know that when it goes out to the reader, it is the best I can make it at that time in my writing life.

And I love the book cover too! Very swoony! :)

Erica Vetsch said...

KC, a critique from Ruthy! I don't know if Ruthy even remembers it, but she was one of my first contest judges way back in the day. She gently told me "Sister, this book is el-crap."

Oh, man was she right!

Erica Vetsch said...

Renee, I'm so glad you found the post helpful. I'm blessed to have editors and critique partners who are all strong in different areas. It sure helps when getting down to the triage process.

Erica Vetsch said...

Good morning, Edwina! Thanks for commenting on the post. I hope you find the method helpful when editing. :)

Sandy, you're so right. It is easier when it is your critique partners who point out your WIP's 'illnesses' than when your editor does. But there's still some cringe factor for me when I get that baby back all bloodied and gasping. :)

Erica Vetsch said...

Good morning, Janet...Owie to Wowie! I like that.

I've got The Substituted Bride here in my TBR pile and it's the next one when I finish the book I'm on right now. Can't wait to delve into it. Gorgeous cover!

Erica Vetsch said...

Kristin, best wishes on editing your first manuscript, and kudos for finishing that first draft! You're on your way now.

Everybody's manuscript flatlines at one point or another. You'll shock it back to life in no time!

Erica Vetsch said...

Audra, you hit it square. Trust is HUGE. If you don't trust the motives of your critique partner, to truly make your manuscript the best it an be, then the critique is pretty much useless.

Knowing my critique partners and my editors and I all have the same goal, and that we care about each other, means no matter how painfully honest and truthful the critique is, I can take it, because of the spirit in which the critique has been given.


Erica Vetsch said...

CJ, I knew you'd like that acronym. lol

Sally, I dithered with whether to leave that phrase in because I loved it so much! LOL

Sacrificed story on the altar of beautiful words...

Yep, still like it!

Erica Vetsch said...

:( Boohoo! I have to be out of pocket until this evening and won't be able to join too much in the convo after this.


But I'll be back this evening to see what's shakin'!

Kav said...

This is timely since I'm determined to finish my first draft this summer. Up until now I keep editing as I go which isn't getting me very far. So I'm turning a blind eye to what's already on the screen and focusing on what's to come instead.

I'll likely need an entire hospital wing of professionals to put the poor thing back together again when it's time for me to start 'le crap'. Sorry, but now that you've said it I can't think of what it's really supposed to be. LOL

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, honey, where were you three weeks ago when somebody threw a grenade in my ms. due July 1st!!!!

WONDERFUL blog, Erica, and one I really could have used prior to this, but I can always print it off for the future use, thank God!

And, OH, those repetitive words!! Like you (and probably every writer out there), I tend to have a different repetitive word each book. A Passion Most Pure was "malaise," Redeemed was "prostrate," Denied had hips slacking left and right and in Undaunted apparently I had a lot of people "screaming" and lots of things "darting" (eyes, people, objects). Not to mention I used the word "God"299 times (nothing profane, just things like God's green earth, God help me, for the love of God, etc.). I got a bad review on Amazon from someone who didn't like A Passion Most Pure because she didn't realize it was a Christian book and said I used the word God on almost every page, which made her nauseous. I actually thought she was exaggerating until my editor pointed it out to me in Undaunted. All I can say is, thank God for crit partners and editors!!


Anne Barton said...

Thanks for sharing your process, Erica. I like the idea of making several passes through the story and concentrating on a different aspect each time. Makes revising seem a bit less overwhelming.

LOL on the baking chocolate. Hey, chocolate's chocolate. :)

Melanie Dickerson said...

Nice cover with Clara and the Cowboy, Erica!

Maybe it's because I have a wonderful, genius editor, but I LOVE it when she sends me the things she wants me to work on! It's so exciting, because I see the story in a whole new way suddenly. I see more potential, ways to make the story better and stronger and more intriguing. That is super exciting to me! Love editing with my editor! She is phenomenal. It's when I'm revising with her that I sigh and think, I'm living my dream!

I know. I'm weird.

Susan Anne Mason said...


Great post. I find editing so daunting. I get distracted and end up just reading the story again! LOL.

Thanks for the great tips. If I keep a printout of your post while I'm trying to edit, maybe I'll stay more focused.

Is it just me or is Amber the cutest thing? Nice to have a fresh young writer on board.

And KC, a critique by Ruthy. How wonderful that must have been! I would imagine she'd be tough but fair. By the way, where is Ruthy today?

Julie, I laughed out loud at your repetitions! The one I did notice was all the hip slacking - maybe because I'd never heard that term before. We all have our favourite actions or body parts that keep doing things. Too funny.

Let's pray for sunshine (or just lack of rain, please) for Saturday. I'm having family over for a BBQ - need to be out on the deck!

Don't know if you guys heard, but we just experienced a 5.5 earthquake and a tornado, all in one day (well the tornado was a little north of me, but my poor brother was at work and had both happen within hours of each other). Luckily so far we haven't heard of any casualties, just a lot of damage.

Take care and have a good weekend!

sbmason (at) sympatico (dot) ca

Mary Connealy said...

Actually I'm shocked by this Erica.

I would have bet big money that genius just pours off your fingertips, straight onto the keyboard.

First time, every time, perfect.

The disallusionment is severe.

KC Frantzen said...

Wow Susan, Y'all be careful!!! Glad your brother was ok too!

Is anyone else having a word verification glitch?

It has the dreaded red X the first time the field appears, then it shows up the next time, after telling me I didn't enter the word correctly. Started this yesterday I think. Weird!

And Melanie - you are NOT weird. You're SMART!

Great post - have printed off many of the comments too. Keepers!!!

See y'all later...

Missy Tippens said...

Erica! Welcome! But let me tell you what I just read in your first paragraph:

There’s nothing like typing “The End” on a manuscript you’ve labored, sweated, cried, griped, TOILETED, and lost sleep over.

Oh my goodness! Sorry about that! I didn't mean to misquote you in my head. :)

And then you had me laughing out loud at Le-crap!!

Thanks so much for this wonderful method! And you can bet I'll be remembering it as Le-crap as I use it each time. :)

It was great to have you with us again!

Missy Tippens said...

Sue, I saw that on the news! I'm glad you're okay. But so awful.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Erica, Thanks for joining us here at Seekerville. Love the cover of your new book. CLARA AND THE COWBOY. If its anything like your last book, I'm going to love it.

Missy you are tooooooo funny.

Hey folks in honor of the title I brought some cowboy food. Its about lunch time for you easterners so how about some bbq ribs, grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, baked beans, potato salad and cole slaw. A real western cook wagon treat.

I'd offer some beer too but most of you need to keep working so there's coffee, iced sun tea, Arizona tea, and some cold water with slices of lemon. Hey its Friday so later this evening????

Kathy said...

Wonderful post, Erica!

I like L-Carp. ( As a French speaker and new write, I like Le Crap even more.)

KC - I have the verification issues, too. I don't get it. Sometimes I sign in with my google account and sometimes it won't let me.

I learn so much from everyone here. Have a great weekend.


Sandra Robbins said...

What a wonderful post, Erica! I loved it. It reminds me that I have two manuscripts waiting for edits.

Sandra Robbins

Cindy R. Wilson said...

What a great way to approach editing! It's such a good idea to edit in steps--there are so many times I've felt overwhelmed by all I had to change in a manuscript. Working on one thing at a time also helps to keep your focus so you're thorough. Thanks for the tips, Erica!

Sherrinda said...

This is such a timely post for me, as I am in the midst of editing woes.

I've got questions for you...if you are up for them.

1. Do you send your ms to your crit partners as a first draft or do you do a run through edit before it goes to them?

2. If you do edit before you send it, do you find it difficult to "see" your problems?

3. How many critters do you have? Do you think it is necessary to have more than one?

4. Do you send your critters the full ms at the end or little by little, chapter by chapter?

Okay, I won't ask more...yet. If anyone else has answers, jump in and share. I need to learn!!!!

Kimberly said...

This is killer (in the good way). I look at what needs doing and feel like there is no. way.
This is a great sorting method to get first things first! My crit partners are wonderful at pointing out the stuff that makes sense in my head but nowehere else.
One problem at a time!

Rose said...

Hi Erica,

I think your method really works because The Bartered Bride was wonderful. I just finished it and you made every word and scene count!

Great to see you here.

Virginia said...

This sounds like a great read! I would love to read it!


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh my, Erica's back and I'm late with food!!!

And for someone that admits to (GAG) eat baking chocolate...

I'm only hoping and praying she doesn't mean the unsweetened Baker's baking chocolate, the cornerstone of every baker's cupboard for the worlds greatest homemade brownies....

Erica, please feel free to call me in times of desperation whereas I will then, upon hearing from you, send you chocolate by way of quickest available conveyance. Honey, don't you have friends? Kids who drive? A private stash? And as for this husband of yours, I mean, come on, Peter.... A private stash of chocolate is the LEAST a man can do to ensure connubial bliss.

In the end, Peter, it is for your own best interests and that's all I'm sayin' about that!


Wonderful post. I love your crit partners. I suspect they could not possibly be as hard on you as you imply because your work flows effortlessly, but I respect strong critiquers who aren't afraid to get down and dirty as needed. (Right, Sandra? Tina? Mary? Audra?)

Great job, Vetsch, who may or may not be related to someone who looks a great deal like me.

Amazing how that works!!!

I'm scanning to see if anyone brought food, but since it's lunch, it's Friday and I'm preparing for a baby shower, new puppies and craziness in general, I'm supplying fresh bread, fresh tuna (gold label, none of that cat food nonsense), Hellman's mayo, chopped celery, lettuce and a toaster in case you like your bread toasted.

And chips.

And fresh strawberries from Sweeney's farms.

Great fruit!

Dig in while I catch up, guys.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Renee, you made 'half-caff' and that's perfectly acceptable, honey, thank you.

Um, not to be insulting, I DID bring some high-test with me.

Just because some of us need it to exist.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Hey, CJ! Welcome, kid and Sally....

I get the ignoring thing. Good on ye!

Sometimes they just need a measure of disregard to be whipped into shape.

Audra.... Oh my gosh, I just got to your food bar and I'm so happy.

I am beyond happy.

I am happiest. Superlative form of happy.

Thank you, dear.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

KC, my word veri is doing that too.

I blame Mary.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Toss the tuna.

Sandra's lunch sounds better.

I'm in on BBQ.

Lisa Jordan said...

Awesome post, Erica. I like to think of my rough drafts as El Crap. :)

I'd be so lost without my crit team. Each of them brings different strengths to our group. My writing has improved because of them. :)

Mary Connealy said...

My word verification does that too, every time.

I take full responsibility.

Ruthy is right. I'm too much for Blogger. This isn't the first time I've noticed that.

Mary Connealy said...

And MISSY!!!???

Did you say you've TOILETED over a manscript?

The picture I've got in my head is going to have to be surgically removed, thank you VERY much.

Mary Connealy said...

RUTHY!!!!! Erica is NOT going to call you in her times of need.

She is going to call ME. I live much closer.

Plus, have you read her books?

Erica is someone we DEFINITELY want thinking she somehow owes us. So she'll thank us when she's accepting her academy award for best adaptation of a novel into a screen play. Her books read like pure action. Fantastic.

Mary Connealy said...

And KC, just in the spirit of complete honestly, Melanie is LITTLE BIT weird.


Casey said...

I still have yet to read anything by Erica, but I long to in the WORST way! I love the idea for her very first book, it sounded so fascinating.

Great post, I enjoyed it. :) Thank you!


Katie Ganshert said...

Well....shoooot (imagine me saying this like Mater from the movie Cars). I'm just a'blushin' over here. I'm blessed to be your critique partner! You are mucho fabuloso!!

Vince said...

Hi Erica:

I also use a triage editing method. I think mine is a little different than yours.

Part I: things that it would be nice to edit or polish if I get the time but which are good enough to use as is. These I save for last.

Part II: things that will kill the artistic merit (‘publishability’) of the book if left as is. These get top priority.

Part III: things that are so bad (or out of place) that they will die no matter what I do to save them. These I make comfortable until I have the time to cut them from the manuscript. (This is a kind of literary hospice.)

As a copyeditor, I always ‘edited-for’ when editing. I would edit in passes. These could be in any order but I always focused on editing only one thing during each pass. For example, I'd 'editi-for’: typos, logic, 5-sense words, description-to-dialogue (white space), benefits (rewards-for-reading), transitions, repetitions, believability, proof, tone, and of course, a ‘call to action’ – asking for the order.

It is easier to find something when you are focused on what you are looking for. I’d be very interested in knowing the different things the authors here edit-for.

BTW: I loved The Bartered Bride – I just wish it had a title that gave a better indication of the story location and time period. It was one of the most refreshing stories I’ve read all year.

Thanks for a very informative post.


vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Um, Mary, if you weren't so absolutely stuck on yourself and Your Own Words you'd have noted my sincere and abject praise of Erica's work.

I bow to her brilliance, but mostly because I thought I saw a quarter on the sidewalk. Oops.

And it's A-0K for Erica to owe us 'big time' because we did, after all, launch her career.

Where else does a young, beautiful and unsuspecting young author get mocked out by old ladies on a regular basis ON THE INTERNET?



Dan did not ask for our help. More's the pity.

Erica is probably full aware of what she owes us and will list us in her thirty-second acceptance speech but probably mention Mary by name which will NOT MAKE ME HAPPY.

End of soliloquy.

Spell THAT, Dan.

Jessica Nelson said...

Awesome post Erica! I love it. Great points in it. Logic is something I find hard to do in my plots. lol And like you said, that's a story killer.
Thanks for sharing your method!

Mary Connealy said...

RUTHY! I am NOT stuck on myself.

Although, in the interest of full and complete honesty, I admit that I only read the part of your email that mentioned me.


I asked my mommy and she said that as usual, I'm right.

Anonymous said...

i'm always learning something from seekerville :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Myra Johnson said...

A perfectly wonderful breakdown of the editing process, Erica! Oh, my--
"le crap"??? Gotta remember that one!

And I am another HP author who has been sliced and diced by Rachel. Sometimes I want to crawl under the table in embarrassment over stuff she points out! It's great to have someone who can look at the story with an objective eye, because after countless go-rounds on my own, I am utterly blind to the flaws.

Come back anytime, Erica! Seekerville is blessed by your presence!

Katie Johnson said...

Wonderful info here. Love your book cover, and the name-I'll add it to my list of books to buy.

I used to die over letting someone see my writing, now, I just want them to rip it up and help me see what I'm too close to see.

It's so funny what you can miss when you're right there in your ms...too close to see clearly. It can be sooooo humiliating to see that you're having a character do something, apparently out there on the edge of space, because basically, while YOU had a clear idea of where they were, you forgot to tell the poor reader. Doh!

All I can say is, thank goodness for chances to revise.

Great post!

Georgiana said...

GREAT post! Triage is such an appropriate description of the editing/revising process. You really nailed it.

For the record...I never actually said u-g-l-y. HAHA!!! I count it a blessing to read your books first :D

Pam Hillman said...

Thanks Erica! This was so helpful.


Yeah, that's what my wip looks like tonight!


Tracy Krauss said...

What an excellent post! The 'triage' analogy is so fitting! You covered all the based, too. Well done.

Carol J. Garvin said...

Nice to find you here on Seekerville, Erica. Your manuscript triage makes a great analogy. I think I almost follow your LCARP process, except that as a retired teacher I know I won't be able to stand going through the initial edit printout unless I do a quick run-through first to eliminate obvious grammar and punctuation errors and typos. I know it doesn't make a lot of sense to look at little things before I'm sure the big picture is solid, but it's one of my peculiarities. Maybe that makes my process a CLCARP with the first C being for Correct?

Linsey Lanier said...

I'm late with my comment, but I had to thank you, Erica, for this terrific checklist. It's definitely a keeper for me and I will use it when I revise my wip!

lotus82 said...

I loved this article!! For me, w hen I am editing..I just take the red pen straight to the paper (none of that editing on the computer crap for me!!) I mark up the paper as much as I need to...because my BIGGEST pet peeve is to buy and read a book and then come across a typo...I go all kinds of crazy, maybe its OCD?? LOL..but it just drives me crazy, so once I am sure that all words are spelled correctly and not used too often (I just love the thesaurus) and that no quotation mark had been left behind..I then get on the computer and make the necessary corrections before submitting my book!! (Actually I should say before submitting their books....I edit for self-publishers!!)