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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ruth A. Casie Talks About....

Editors Collaborators

How anxiously I awaited the edits of my first book, Knight of Runes. Excitement. Well I still had a hard time believing that it would be published. When her letter finally arrived the editing process and timeframes were clearly laid out.
I really don’t know what I expected. I opened the file and felt deflated at the sea of red track changes. I worked diligently on the story. We worked on the plot and made certain it flowed logically (even for a fantasy). We made sure the characters stayed true to their goals and motivations. We tackled flow and story without impacting voice.  I found editing to be a great learning experience and I had a personal teacher by my side all the way. Here are the top ten things I learned from my first round edits. Did I warn you this was a long post? Go get your coffee. I’ll wait.

10.  Well-meaning friends, who are ‘in the know,’ sometimes don’t know. The advice of a good friend and published author was to remove irrelevant words in order to stay in the action and make things sound crisp and immediate. It’s the way to hold your reader attention. Not, however, when you splice commas. Words such as and, but, are essential, not extraneous.
9.    Cut extraneous exposition and let the reader see it. What some people see as extraneous exposition (which I went through and deleted) my editor said was context and necessary to set up the next scene or action.
8.    Don’t give your editor (and reader) a headache by head hopping. Head hopping, I mean real leaps in the same scene, may work for Nora but not for Ruth.
7.    POV is an art. If your POV character can’t see it, hear it, and doesn’t know it then it doesn’t exist. Unless, the other POV character says it or (this was an eye opener) thinks it in his head. Cool heh.
6.    Edits are a learning experience and my editor is a fabulous, and patient, teacher. I learned to see patterns, hear echoes, and feel rhythms. It only took the first 100 pages to get there.
5.    Immediate voice is much more powerful and compelling than passive voice. Chopping ‘ing’ words makes the action sound immediate. It’s essential, although, passive voice has its place, but only occasionally.
4.    Filler words do not move a scene along. These words can usually be eliminated without changing the meaning and will also make the scene more immediate.
3.    Questions in the readers mind can be provocative. Some of my editor’s comments were questions that were answered in the next paragraph or scene. I made my reader think. Not bad!
2.    My deepest apologies to Mrs. X. My high school grammar teacher must be spinning in her grave. I won’t embarrass her by mentioning her name.
The number one thing I learned from my first round of edits…
1.   Call me crazy but I enjoyed working through the track changes and comments. My editor made me think, make decisions, see opportunities, and ultimately helped me make the story the best it can be and isn’t that what we both wanted.
As I waited for the edits for my second book, The Guardian’s Witch which released July 1, my husband took me to see, Seminar, the Theresa Rebeck play staring Alan Rickman, one of my favorite actors. Actually, I visualized him as Bran, the villain in The Guardian’s Witch.

The play is set in present day New York City and follows four young writers and their professor, an international literary figure. Each student has paid the professor $5,000 for a ten-week-long writing seminar. As tensions rise and romance erupts between students, they clash over their writing, their relations, and their futures. At the end of the play, the professor gives each student a gift, a graduation present of sorts, to help them succeed; jobs, pertinent introductions but nothing to do with writing. There is one student who has been the most difficult, who hasn’t truly followed through with the exercises, and challenges the professor at almost every turn. The professor challenges this student to work with him. He will be the student’s editor because he is the one student who has the greatest potential for literary success. The professor goes on to explain the editor – writer relationship.
There is a special relationship between a writer and their editor. The editor knows and understands your story and your characters goals motivations and conflicts as well as you do.
When Alan Rickman spoke his lines I understood exactly what he meant. I had the benefit of my editor working closely with me. Together we were a team that collaborated, brainstormed, and made the story the best it could be. And wasn’t that what we both wanted.  I can’t wait to hand in my next manuscript.

You can find out more about Ruth’s books at:

The Guardian’s Witch – Back Cover Copy
England, 1290

Lord Alex Stelton can't resist a challenge, especially one with a prize like this: protect a castle on the Scottish border for a year, and it's his. Desperate for land of his own, he'll do anything to win the estate—even enter a proxy marriage to Lady Lisbeth Reynolds, the rumored witch who lives there.
Feared and scorned for her second sight, Lisbeth swore she'd never marry, but she is drawn to the handsome, confident Alex. She sees great love with him but fears what he would think of her gift and her visions of a traitor in their midst.

Despite his own vow never to fall in love, Alex can't get the alluring Lisbeth out of his mind and is driven to protect her when attacks begin on the border. But as her visions of danger intensify, Lisbeth knows it is she who must protect him. Realizing they'll secure their future only by facing the threat together, she must choose between keeping her magic a secret and losing the man she loves.
Author Bio

Ruth A. Casie is a seasoned professional with more than 25 years of writing experience, but not necessarily writing romances. No, she’s been writing communication and marketing documents for a large corporation. Not too long ago, encouraged by her friends and family, she gave way to her inner muse, let her creative juices flow, and began writing a series of historical time-travel and historical fantasy romance novels. Her first release, KNIGHT OF RUNES finaled in NJRW’s Golden Heart for Best First Book. Her latest story, THE GUARDIAN’S WITCH, released July 1. Both books were published by Carina Press. When not writing you can find her home in Teaneck, New Jersey, reading, cooking, doing Sudoku and counted cross stitch.  Together with her husband Paul, they enjoy ballroom dancing and going to the theater.  Ruth and Paul have three grown children and two grandchildren.  They all thrive on spending time together.  It’s certainly a lively dinner table and they wouldn’t change it for the world.
Ruth is President of the Board of Trustees of Shelter Our Sister (SOS), Bergen County’s shelter for victims of domestic violence.



Charlotte Copper said...

Totally agree with point #1, my editor also "made me think, make decisions, see opportunities, and ultimately helped me make the story the best it can be".

Nancy said...

I agree with she mentions not to leave the reader questioning what you menat. I use some old Scottish terms (Claymore, etc.) and I find a need extra words (He grasped the Claymore with both hand, and swung the large sword at his foe) All good points!

Melinda B. Pierce said...

Fantastic post :) I've had a couple of writer friends who after working with an editor stopped working with a slew of CPs because the editor's feedback put them in a different mind set. Or something like that :)

Thanks for sharing!

Kristal Hollis said...

Terrific article, Ruth. I'm not far along in my writing career and I look forward to a day when I'll receive my first edits.

Mac Perry said...

I am not professionally published, but I paid for a professional edit. And it was worth every penny. The things that struck me most were things I never would have thought of, such as the proper names for things; did you know "Dumpster" is a proper name and must be capitalized? So is Hummer. And even "dipshit" is in the dictionary (one word). Lol.

Thanks for sharing. Great post.