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Monday, November 03, 2008

Between Minor and Major Edits

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

The first time an editor told me they thought they could acquire my manuscript after I made a few minor changes, I was thrilled! The editor sent me a brief paragraph stating that I needed to lighten the sensual detail between my hero and heroine, deepen the faith element, and lighten the Scottish brogue a bit.

Immediately I tried to think of all the scenes that could be considered sensual. There was only one that stood out in my mind, so I edited that scene. I worked on layering a few more faith elements here and there, and took out some of the major brogue dialect throughout the manuscript.

She rejected it.

What? But I did what you asked of me.

Did I? I’ll never know. What could be minor to one person may be major to another. Since then I’ve received more editor feedback and learned additional things that can be helpful to others—I hope.

Minor Edits
Typically, I consider minor edits basic grammar corrections here and there. It may also include rewording a few phrases every other paragraph, but not necessarily every line.

Other minor edits could include going through your manuscript and adding simple sensory details to each scene, or altering the dialogue to make it more fresh and direct or to sound more like your character. You may need to deepen the point of view (POV) of one or two of your main characters.

Deepening the faith element could be minor edits or major edits, depending on your plot and what the editor has in mind. Perhaps you only need to have your main character pray more often so he/she is seen relying on their faith more or attending church in one or two scenes. It could also mean having the unbelieving character in your story ask more questions about Christianity and faith before he/she gives their life to the Lord.

If you don’t even have a church or a circle of Christian friends and characters in your current story, this could require major edits. You may have to write a few new scenes or revise existing scenes to include those elements. This will alter your subplots, but not your main plot so it will fall under major edits, but it still won’t be a complete rewrite.

Major Edits
When you have to make any change to a plot or a sub-plot, I consider this major edits. It will require writing a few new scenes or rewriting existing scenes. In this case, something in the book is missing and must be added.

Examples of major edits include adding new characters, reworking a plot to include additional plot twists, adding multiple POV’s, rewriting scenes and chapters so show rather than tell.

It could also be rewriting scenes to eliminate head-hopping, which is switching between more than one character’s POV within a scene. One scene should only show one character’s POV, and then you should switch to a new scene to another character’s POV.

Other major edits are when you have simple grammar, dialogue, POV issues, and sensory or descriptive detail that need correction throughout the manuscript. This isn’t only on a few pages here and there throughout the manuscript, but a problem on every page or every other page throughout the complete book. Simple corrections on 300 pages can quickly become a major edit and take up a lot more time than you originally calculated.