When I first read the traditional Quaker wedding vow, I was struck by it’s stark simplicity. Here’s a version, excluding names:
Loving and faithful. That’s it.
Simple, yes, but in a few short words, the vow covers everything more traditional vows attempt to spell out. Sickness/Health? If you leave an ill spouse, that’s not exactly loving, is it? Richer/Poorer? Hum, also covered under “loving”
Simplicity, comforting as the word may sound, leaves nowhere to hide. Thanks to the Banditas, I recently discovered this principle can apply to editing/revising as well.
On March 23, the Romance Bandits interviewed freelance editor Caroline Tolley. In the interview, she revealed she reads manuscripts while wearing both a reader’s hat and an editor’s hat. In the comments section, I asked her to name the top thing she looked for as an editor and the top thing she read for as a reader. Her answer was as simple (and far-reaching) as that Quaker vow:
“One of the top things I look for as a reader is the pull forward…do I want to read the next page. Top thing I look for as an editor; do I care.”
Ah, frightening simplicity.
You can’t get more straightforward than these questions. And yet, if the answer is yes to both, you are likely to have a good read in your hands.
Well, this round, anyway. I sent the requested changes off to amazing agent and two weeks ahead of schedule, to boot.
Done the first run-through! Woo Hoo. I tracked & clarified the emotional changes axed a bunch of movement tags (Thanks to Miranda Liasson for pointing out that these were a drag!).
I’m going to take a weekend to let the story “marinate” and then take it from the top. Amazing agent wants more physical description of the characters (and she is right) and also a few references to my H&H’s past. I flagged some spots thought I could place this information, but it’s going to take another read-through.
Meanwhile, if you are attacking your own revision or if you just are looking for yet another way to procrastinate, allow me to suggest this site: Musical Boxes. My nephew had this on his Iphone as an app, and I was so happy to find it on stumble. Whenever I need a quick, 30 second break, I use it to create a little “music.”