So here are the mechanics of re-writes. At least: the re-writes as they are practiced by my editor, Keith Kahla of St. Martin’s Press.
I wrote the 400-page manuscript and shipped it off to Keith. He sent back edits. I input most of them. He read everything, then sent back more edits. In this case, 22 pages of edits.
But in a good way.
Here’s an example of the edits I get:
“Page 207: Consider building this [paragraph] up and adding more here? Perhaps, make it clear up-front that this is the French military? In any case, fill out the details in this scene, providing more physical description — not just of the gunship but of the people inside it — in order to ground the reader more.”
With luck, when you read the novel — OK, OK, if you read the novel — you won’t ever notice this paragraph on page 207. It’s not terribly pivotal. It’s one of dozens and dozens of paragraphs that Keith thinks is great but could be better. Cleaner. Tighter.
I read each individual note. I pace, I bounce a tennis ball off the floor (don’t ask; old habit), I mull, then I sit and figure out how to improve the paragraph.
Then I move to the next note: “Page 208: In think the reference to Sarajevo is ….”
This is the reason I love re-writes. It’s this micro-level of attention. It’s like weaving a tapestry. The overall image is all-important, sure, but with an editor like Keith Kahla, every warp and weft is worth making good.
On we go.
Mystery Writers of America, of which I am a member, has announced the nominees for the Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2011.
Three of my St. Martin’s Press cohorts made the short list. They are:
• Best Novel: THE DEVOTION OF SUSPECT X by Keigo Higashino (Minotaur Books).
• Best First Novel by an American Author: PSURGATORY CHASM by Steve Ulfelder (Minotaur Books – Thomas Dunne Books).
• Best Critical/Biographical: THE TATTOOED GIRL: THE ENIGMA OF STIEG LARSSON AND THE SECRETS BEHIND THE MOST COMPELLING THRILLERS OF OUR TIME, by Dan Burstein, Arne de Keijzer & John-Henri Holmberg (St. Martin’s Griffin).
The winners will be announced April 26 in New York City.
This year marks the 203rd anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, the father of the modern crime novel.