Your manuscript needs help. So you’ve called in an expert. He’s supposed to arrive anytime.
There’s a knock on the door. You cast a nervous glance at your manuscript, your eyes briefly settling on the two words The End halfway down the last page. Is is a declaration of a work completed? Or a prediction about your career as a writer.
A more insistent banging jolts you out of your thoughts. You step awkwardly to the door, pausing to wipe your moist palm on the side of your pajamas. Panic pulls your eyes wide. Pajamas! Too late to change into the garb of “normals” now. He’s here.
A different pounding gets louder. It’s your heart thumping against your ribcage. Wait! I’ll pretend I’m not home. I…I…I don’t need his help after all. I can fix this manusc–“
“I’m Mr. Knowitall Foriegnpants. Open up in the name of literacy,” a deep voice booms. “I’m here to edit your manuscript.”
“I’m not home,” you shout. Bad move. Not much chance of a do-over there.
“I know all about your POV problems,” he states with a verbal sneer. If you don’t open up, I’m going to spread it all over town that you have issues with dangling participles.”
Your breath catches. That’s dirty pool.
“I already have the first fifty pages of your novel. Remember, you emailed them to me…incorrectly formatted, of course, but that’s a later discussion. Here on page one I read, ‘…skipping along the beach, the moon shone brighter than before.’ Shall I read more?”
Before you can stop yourself, you swing the door open. Standing on the front porch is one of the largest men you’ve ever seen in your life. Even his eyebrows have muscles. And it looks like turtles have crawled up his sleeves and stopped midway between his elbow and shoulder. A t-shirt strained against his wide chest. On the t-shirt was a quote from someone named Hannibal Lector…something about a census taker and a lunch. The words begin to roll, so you glance away. A giant tatoo of a red ink pen covers most of his beefy forearm.
“I’m not home.”
“I mean…welcome to my home.
“I’m here to help you remodel your novel,” he says calmly. Too calmly. And that’s two repetitive “ly” words in a row.
You begin to think that perhaps this won’t be as bad as you fear. Then you notice the camera crew walking up the sidewalk.
So how rough is the editing process? Do you fear the process? Do you look forward to it? How do you feel when you get blunt criticism about your manuscript?
My experiences with a freelance editor have been one of the best learning experiences of my writing life. Every writer needs an editor. There are plenty of places to get good help. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s proof that you are teachable and have a respect for the craft.