After performing the macro edit [the first pass on an unsuspecting manuscript] I send it back to the author with an e-mail that reads something like this:
Hi Author (insert name), [notice the breezy tone]
Attached is the macro edit of your manuscript titled Best-selling Novel. Many writers have been known to throw themselves across the bed and cry for three days before they could move forward. Please don’t. I know it can be painful, but my job is to take a 50,000-foot viewpoint of your book and offer comments that will make it sing like a Stradivarius violin.
I honor you as the author, and my suggestions are intended to strengthen your structure, plot, and character arc so that your voice soars off the page [and hopefully, about a bazillion people will want to buy your book.]
[This is the point in the e-mail when authors run for the Xanax or stand up and circle their desks as if they’ve just discovered a cobra sitting on the computer. Some authors pace. Some throw things. As the editor, I’m glad I do this long distance.]
You will notice there are a great many comments inserted into your manuscript, most of them in the earlier chapters. I trust that you will look for and find those same problem areas in the rest of your manuscript. If I spot a consistent pet word or phrase or a favorite sentence construction, I’ll track changes and point that out as well. For instance, many authors are quite fond of using the word then to connect two phrases. You might want to use the global search function and capitalize the entire word. You might be surprised how often you’ve employed that sentence construction [like maybe 2,342 times!].
Continuity can be another issue. If your heroine has brilliant green eyes in the first chapter [Don’t all heroines have green eyes?] you don’t want her eyes to turn brown in chapter 18. Make sense? It’s always a good idea to keep a notebook or note card handy with a full description of each character.
As well, watch for passive language. Active language propels your story forward as though you were shooting the rapids on the Colorado River. Passive language steers you into a log where your canoe sits for what seems like hours. At least ninety-five percent of the time, you can eliminate the word was and recast your sentences in a more active tense. Sometimes was is just the right word to use, but not often.
First, read the macro edit letter I’ve attached before moving on to the comments and suggested changes in the manuscript. It will explain my reasons and ask questions about holes in your plot.
Please let me know if you have any questions. I’m always available by e-mail or phone during the editing process. I’m quite flexible, and I’m sure we can make your manuscript shine like that highly polished Stradivarius.
In another blog, we’ll dig deeper into the macro letter and the actual macro edit. Please ask any questions you might have about this process. If you’ve never had your manuscript macro edited, it can seem daunting. But trust me, it’s all part of the standard publishing cycle. Have you ever had another person edit your manuscript? If so, how did you feel about their comments?