It was well over a year ago, February 2014, that I met with Noah. He smiled but his eyes lacked the luster of true excitement.
I knew then that he wasn’t going to deliver the news I wanted.
“It’s a great story,” he said. “And the descriptions of diving are magnificent.” He sighed. “But you’ll need more than line editing. Let me show you what I mean,” he said, retrieving the manuscript.
I opened the document at one of the many colorful tags attached to the pages. I was greeted by arrows, strike-throughs, question marks, and multiple comments scattered in thought bubbles.
Noah proceeded to point at elements that slowed down the flow the story. He showed me erratic jumps in timeline and how secondary characters were stealing the spotlight.
Noah was the pair of eyes I needed. I reviewed his notes and went back to work, vowing to be done in no more than a month. My goal was to have the novel of The Diver – A tale of Adventure, Deceit, and Redemption, ready for early spring 2014—as I had promised the readers who downloaded the free samples.
A month into the revisions I knew it wasn’t going to happen.
What I thought would be a couple of paragraph shifts, turned into a major job of rewriting, eliminating, and creating scenes.
Thus mid-April arrived and I contacted Noah again, sending him the document in electronic format.
Noah talked to me a couple of days after: “Definitely better but you need developmental edit,” he said. “I’ll put you in touch with my buddy, Jim Thomsen.”
Hello, Jim Thomsen
I had heard of the man before—a jocular character famous for his quick wit and for turning mundane coffee shop banter into topics of heated discussion. His reply to my inquiry was straight-forward and he made it clear that he wasn’t going to waste time in a bidding war. He only asked me to let him edit a sample and we could have a discussion after.
Two weeks after, I received his feedback. He pointed distracting elements, eliminated what I thought were crucial details without affecting the story, and his suggestions improved that segment of the story.
All I knew at that point is that a book release on 2014 wasn’t going to happen. Two days after, I was on my way to a brewery to discuss the project after submitting the full manuscript. That was such a remarkable moment, as Jim and I discussed the intricacies of writing over a cold brew in a sunny day.
“How much work do you think I need?” I asked.
“You’re just going over a learning curve,” he said. Jim then looked me in the eyes with a stoic expression. “Look, you have a great story in the making but it needs work. I’m going to challenge you like no one has challenged you, and you’re going to work like you haven’t worked before.”
I couldn’t measure the true extent of Jim’s words at that moment. How much work could I possibly need? I thought. I’ve already done plenty of work.
My answer came two months after: Extensive markings in MS Word review mode along with nearly twenty pages of critiques and notes.
The notes demanded extensive rewriting, elimination of over fifty percent of the scenes, and creating new ones to tighten the new structure.
I could only huff, realizing I wasn’t anywhere close to done as I initially thought. I could only roll my eyes as I contemplated the amount of work in front of me. “I don’t want to discourage you,” Jim had said in his notes, “but I told you I’d help you turn this to professional standards.”
But I wasn’t discouraged. Jim Thomsen was the expert and his advice rang true. Publishing without following his advice would be careless.
Yes, you never argue with the editor!
And so I went back to work.
Three months after, the new draft was completed and submitted. I could only sit and wait.
My heart raced when I received the reviewed manuscript and Jim’s notes. I followed all his suggestions, I thought, but if I still need to rewrite, so be it.
The red markings were scarce. The notes amounted to less than seven pages. I contacted Jim to see if there was a mistake. “No mistake. You completely turned it around,” Jim said.
Some more line editing, a final proof-reading, and formatting and here’s the final work!
Thus, The Diver – A tale of Adventure, Deceit, and Redemption evolved into Saga of The Diver, a rich story worthy of a trilogy.
I wish I would’ve been able to finish the first volume when I promised, yet while good work can move at a steady pace, it cannot be rushed. The discerning eye of the editor had the final word, and the book wasn’t going to land on your hands until Jim gave his blessings.
Here’s your patience paying off.
I believe it worth the wait.
Love your editor. Always!