Friday, December 21, 2012

Editing the Future: Another Pair of Eyes and Unwritten Manuscripts ~ A Guest Post by Amber Stokes

Photo Credit
Casey here. I'm excited to spend the day with a great friend of mine, Amber Stokes. Amber has a heart for books and writing like I do and we connected over books and blogs long before we met in person. Read through the post and be sure and leave a comment at the end of the post for one of Amber's editing packages!

An Unappreciated Luxury
Editing is a luxury I haven’t come to fully appreciate. Like many of you, I find it much easier to edit someone else’s work than to hear someone’s comments (and criticisms) regarding my own work.

Consider this: In life, we don’t get to change the past. In our writing, though, we have the opportunity to correct our mistakes (or at least some of them!) before the world sees them. We can rearrange the plot, add new characters, delete unnecessary descriptions, and make the story better than we first envisioned it. I find such a “gift” easier to give others than to accept for myself… I really struggle with changing a story I poured my heart and soul into the first time around!

But that is a tale of woe for another day. What I want to talk about today is another benefit to editing. If the above-described “benefit” of having someone else edit your work is a step you’re not yet ready to take, I completely understand – such is the place where you’ll find me. But I’ve discovered that editing doesn’t just affect the past; it also affects the future.

The Essence of Editing

Several people have read my first manuscript. A few friends offered me the encouragement I needed along the way to keep writing, as well as the understanding I longed for to help me know the story of my heart could touch another person’s heart. But the words of my father and an author friend, while certainly including kindness and encouragement, were ones of correction – not in any sort of mean way, at all, but correction nonetheless. Alas, such is the essence of editing!

My father’s comments were broader in nature; my author friend’s comments included generalizations and line-by-line help. I confess to not being nearly as appreciative as I ought to have been. I wanted a pat on the back, a star sticker on my paper, unending words of praise, and all those other clichés. I really didn’t want to hear about the errors…

And, shameful to say, I have not yet edited that first manuscript. I haven’t taken all the advice I was given and the corrections others pointed out to me and used them to make my first novel better.

To all of you who have edited a book, I admire your courage! It takes humility to accept words of correction, and bravery to envision how your book can be more than it once was because of all that help.

To anyone who might be in the same position as me, I say that those other pairs of eyes that read my manuscript and those other voices that offered their suggestions still have given me something I didn’t have before they looked and spoke.

Here Comes the Future

Those words that were meant to make my first manuscript better might still do that someday…possibly. But I think they have also made my second manuscript (my current WIP), my other writing since then, and those stories yet to be written (Lord willing that they are meant to be written) better.

Did I need a stronger villain and more danger/drama in my first story? Did I need to have a more exciting beginning/first chapter? Did I need to avoid repetitive word usage and too much back-story dumping? Well, I can take those missing ingredients and consider adding them in the future. I can be more aware of my problematic tendencies and be careful to sidestep them in the future. And I hope I have done so to some degree already.

As hard as it is to hear what you’ve done wrong, in time it truly can help make your future stronger.
Photo Credit
This doesn’t just apply to the world of novel-writing. It applies to the story of your life. You don’t have the luxury of going back and editing out all the mistakes you’ve made or changing the routes you’ve taken or adding in the things you should have done. But you do have the option of hearing the corrective words of those who care about you and applying them to your future – with your future beginning as soon as this moment has passed.

My pastor, in discussing the church in Laodicea (as mentioned in Revelation 3) a couple of Sundays ago, talked to us about the importance of repentance. He referred to Hebrews 12 in talking about God’s loving discipline. Consider vs. 11:

“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

Accepting correction and applying it to the future, whether in writing or in life, can be a “grievous” process in some ways. But the fruit it eventually produces is grand, indeed.


I may still have a lot to learn about editing my own work, but as an avid reader and a recent college graduate with a degree in English, I’d like to help others edit their work. J A few months ago I started a freelance editing business, and today I’d like to offer a FREE editing package to one of you. Short story, novella, novel – no matter the stage you’re in and no matter the type of story, as long as it’s “clean” (no explicit sexual content or strong language, which shouldn’t be a problem with this crowd), I’m game! I’ll tell you what I like and I’ll also whip out my pen so I can catch the grammar errors, plot holes, and all that. My hope is that, no matter what you decide to do about my remarks, you’ll be encouraged as well as challenged to constantly become better and better at your craft. 

Giveaway Details

This giveaway is open internationally; however, please note the following:

•If the winner mails me a copy of his or her manuscript, the winner is responsible for
the cost of shipping.

•If the winner is from the U.S. and e-mails me a copy of his or her manuscript, I will
cover the cost of mailing the edited (marked-up) copy back to the winner.

•If the winner is from any other country besides the U.S. and e-mails me a copy of
his or her manuscript, the winner is responsible for covering the shipping cost when I
send the edited copy back to the winner.

If anyone has any questions regarding the giveaway details, please feel free to ask for
clarification in the comments section! Be sure to include your e-mail address in the comments
section so I can contact you should you win. And feel free to look at my “Seasonal Services”
page to browse my editing packages. If you’re the winner, you could have any one of those – even that
$550 “Winter” novel package – for FREE!


Amber Stokes has a Bachelor of Science degree in English, and she loves to write poetry, short stories, novels, and blog posts. After her brief time at college in Oregon, she is now back home among the redwoods of Northern California, living life one day at a time and longing to follow God, wherever He leads her! She has recently started a freelance editing business, Editing Through the Seasons.

You can find Amber on Mondays at TheBorrowed Book blog, and all the time at her personal blog, Seasons of Humility.


Anonymous said...

Amber, your thoughts on editing are so true for many of us, aren't they? It didn't take me long after writing my first six chapters (the first time) to realize I wasn't "all that," and that if my book was ever going to get published, I was going to need A LOT of help. :) I've written and re-written my first MS, and I'm in the process of revising now. I have a couple beta readers and a couple critique partners who have been incredibly helpful. Some of the changes have been hard to make, but I know they make my story better. :)

That's a very generous package you're offering! I'd love to be entered. My address is: wetalk2biz(at)q (lower case Q)(dot)com

Merry Christmas!

Amber Holcomb said...


Oh, yes, editing your own work takes so much humility! It's ironic that my personal blog is called "Seasons of Humility" - it's something I have to keep learning over and over again in so many different ways.

That's wonderful that you have so many people coming alongside you to help you make your story the best it can be! :)

Thank you so much for leaving a comment and entering the giveaway!


Joanne Sher said...

Oh WOW, Amber! What a generous giveaway!

Love your thought on editing. I'm definitely like you - better at giving it out than taking it - but I am getting better. Would LOVE to win this one.

Casey said...

Hello Jeanne and Joanne! Glad you ladies stopped by. :) Amber's info and business is a GREAT thing to have in this writing world...glad she could be here to share today. :)

Amber Holcomb said...


Thank you so much for your enthusiasm! :) I'm glad to hear that this post resonated with you, and that I'm not the only one who struggles with editing (my own work, that is!).

Thanks for stopping by!


Amber Holcomb said...


You're so sweet! ((Hugs)) Thank you for inviting me to visit The Writers Alley and for giving me the chance to share my thoughts! I'm glad to be here! :)


Susan Anne Mason said...


Congratulations on starting your own editing business! I wish you much success!

It is so much easier to critique another person's work - mainly because we're a little too close to our own work - 'can't see the forest for the trees' idea.

I've been doing serious edits on two manuscripts for two different publishing houses in the hopes that they will want to see more of my story. Though very tough, I have been learning a lot about the self-editing process. I hope one day it gets easier!

sbmason at sympatico dot ca

Amber Holcomb said...


Thank you so much! :) I really appreciate the encouragement!

And isn't it hard to have anyone find any flaws with something that's so near and dear to your heart? *sigh* It takes a good attitude and a broad perspective to see that, in the end, your story can be so much better because of it! It sounds like you've been learning quite a bit about that, and I admire your courage! :) Keep on keeping on!

Wishing you the best for those two manuscripts and your writing goals! Thank you for stopping by!


Unknown said...

Casey, I can totally empathize with wanting to wince over critique/corrective editing! It took me a long while to go back to my first manuscript and make sense of my friends' comments and suggestions, but it was worth it. And taking the plunge of sending my writing out to other pairs of eyes has certainly improved future projects!

Congratulations on starting your new editing business! What a generous giveaway! Thank you for this opportunity!

inspiringdaring (at) yahoo (dot) com

Amber Holcomb said...


Thank you for your lovely comment and for entering the giveaway! It's always nice to have others understand. :) It's truly a blessing of the blogging community! And I'm so glad to hear that you've found a "future" benefit to editing, as well!


Amber Holcomb said...

If anyone checks back in here, I wanted to let you all know that Casey drew the winner's name, and the winner is...


Thank you all so very much for taking the time to read my post and for being interested in my editing services! And thank you once again to Casey for hosting me!