Editing the Next Book Again

I’m done editing Apocalypse, which means three of five (actually six, but I don’t count that one) edited. I have learned a lot about the editing process, with the most important things being:

1) Read what I’m editing aloud, or at least aloud in my head — it slows me down.
2) Action verbs.
3) Don’t describe how people are feeling — get into their thoughts and physical sensations.
4) Don’t write tentatively — “Perhaps he wanted to torch the building a little bit, maybe” does not engage the reader.

I learned none of this from rejection slips. I’ve learned NOTHING from rejection slips other than “This doesn’t really fit with my interests.”  I’m not kidding. Maybe I’m spoiled, because when I get rejections from academic journals, I get PAGES of critiques. And usually, if I address those, I get published.

Oh well, I’m editing “Reclaiming the Balance”, which is actually in pretty good shape already. Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter:

Ahead of her, off in the grass, she saw a long black boxlike construct, large enough to walk in, tapered slightly on one end. From what she could tell when she peered into it, it looked like a portable photography gallery with well-lit, artfully framed pictures on the wall.

Curious, Janice strolled over and stepped into it. She recognized herself in the pictures along the walls, and the hair stood up on the back of her neck. She recognized the first picture — she was only five and she wore her almost black, wavy hair back in a ponytail, but her mother had worked to make her bangs big. She preferred to play with her brother rather than sit like a lady, so her next picture featured that same Sunday outfit muddied, along with her hands and face. She stopped at a picture where she wore a mascot outfit – a cardinal – in her high school gym. Her father had foregone all of her extracurricular activities because his career kept him busy. Her mother had not attended either, claiming other responsibilities.

Janice didn’t see the door behind her close, so curious and unsettled she felt by the pictures of herself. How did someone get them? Why were they there?  When she saw the photo of her kneeling in front of her grandmother’s coffin, Janice turned and fled toward the door she had entered, which had disappeared like in a nightmare. She turned and ran the other way down the corridor, toward the open door, toward the light.

Before Janice reached the light at the end of the corridor, someone grabbed her wrist firmly. When she turned around to look at who had captured her, she saw a young man with frantic eyes. Or a young woman with frantic eyes — she couldn’t be sure.

“I can’t let you past. If you go through that door, you’ll die,” he — she? gasped.
“But there’s no door out!” Janice yelled. “How do we get out?”

“I’m Amarel, and this is my grandmother, Lilly.” Amarel indicated a short blonde woman who looked little older than himself. “She’ll transport us.”

“Transport? Okay, just get me out of here.” Janice had this. She’d learned the word ‘transport’ from her now ex-boyfriend. To transport meant to feel her molecules tear apart and coalesce back together in another place. Her last coherent thought before she felt herself dissolve was, “Not the rabbit hole again …”

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