How to Weed Out the “Hot” from the “Not”

A Guest Post from J.J. Bennett

Recently, I paid for a good editor to take a look at a project. When you spend a hefty chunk of change on editing, you expect a clear path to the end goal, right? Paying for a good editor can really help writers see what’s on the page and what’s not. Everyone needs to weed out what’s “hot” from the “not”. So, how might we go about this? I found myself asking this same exact question.

To be quite honest with you, this is the first time I’ve paid for editing and I was pretty darn excited to have my manuscript stripped down to something better and more manageable. After waiting two weeks, I eagerly jumped into reading my feedback (Mind you, it was the longest two weeks of my life and I hyperventilated nearly every moment I checked my email waiting for a reply). I sat on my bed and looked at all 478 comments and 8 pages of notes. 478 comments. That’s A LOT.

I was a bit overwhelmed to say the least… and I had a hard time focusing on what the best feedback was. There was no clear path like I expected. I had to take a step back and assess where the editor’s thoughts were coming from and where my own thoughts fit into the puzzle. Then I finally needed to somehow try to bridge the gap between them both. It’s a hard task.

As a writer, this was the first time I’ve had to work this way and I found it rather challenging; so challenging in fact, that I had no idea where to begin. So what did I do? I let it sit. I did nothing. I waited a few weeks and stared at the pile of work and regrouped. I had to. Sometimes doing nothing is best till you have a game plan.

At this point I wasn’t sure about anything. I could see great points the editor had and I agreed with a good share of what they were saying. But, one suggestion had me wondering if I just wasted years of my life writing something that really wasn’t anything to speak of. In this moment, was where I learned the most from the experience. It took time to gather myself to dive back in, but I did it.

When you get to this defining moment, you either bail on a project, or make it something incredible. I was ready to make it what I’d always dreamed it would be. And to do that, I needed to understand the most basic thing about editors. They see what’s there. I found out my issue was what wasn’t there to be the biggest problem.

Editors remind us that stories need to be told. Stories are only stories when all the information is given and expressed correctly. Giving more “meat” to a story doesn’t make a story less desirable, it’s quite the opposite. Who doesn’t like more bacon? It gives the reader richness that they crave. Writers want readers to have the same passion for their story that they do. To do that, sometimes giving more is just what the editor ordered. Think about what’s not being told and created that clear story. Your readers will love you for it.

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Jennifer J. Bennett is a writer, moonstone wearer, Bigfoot hunter, believer in the super natural, mother of four, and all around lover of great film. She can be followed at or through podcasts with The Authors' Think Tank .


2 Responses

  1. Thank you Nathan for inviting me!

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