I have finished editing The Tempered Steel of Antiquity Grey.
It has been a great journey, one that I hope isn’t finished yet. I completed the 88,000-word novel several months ago. It is filled with mechs and dragons, conflict and friends, and science fiction colliding with fantasy—featuring a young woman thrust into a secret family conspiracy spanning generations. In short, it’s nothing like I’ve written before.
I felt so strongly about The Tempered Steel of Antiquity Grey upon finishing it that I decided I would level it up. I hired former Del Rey Books editor in chief Betsy Mitchell to edit the book. I have known Betsy a long time, ever since she started editing Terry Brooks. She is a consummate professional, possessing a keen editorial eye. No nonsense, which I appreciate. She edited the book. And last week, I finished completing those edits. Now the book is in New York City being read.
But for today, I wanted to spend some time talking about that editing process. When I sent the book to Betsy, I felt the bones were there. The characters. The story. The emotional impact. And all of the science fiction and fantasy elements that any genre reader would love. I knew going in that I needed to work on the world building; Terry Brooks had read the first 60 pages and wanted the world expanded. But beyond that, I didn’t know how to improve the rest of the book. I felt I had taken it as far as I could.
That is why an editor is so important. Writers get really close to their words. It’s hard seeing what is broken. Betsy did not disappoint. I received two different documents from her. She sent me the edited manuscript. This was a line by line edit which included her ideas about how to improve the book on a paragraph and chapter level. But she also sent me an editorial letter, one that featured the larger issues that needed to be fixed.
The editorial letter consisted of five major points that needed to be addressed, all of them world building. There were seventeen minor points that needed to be fixed, all easy.
What did I do with that letter? No, I didn’t throw it in the trash. I’ve never had a problem with someone trying to make my writing better. Instead, I opened up an entirely new Word file, did a quick chapter by chapter outline of the book, and then identified every place where Betsy’s comments applied. I called this a Fix It file.
Once done with the Fix It file, I then opened the edited manuscript and, starting with the book’s first word, began editing. When I came to one of those major or minor points that needed fixing, I fixed it. Sometimes it required me to jump around the manuscript to seed it with foreshadowing better or highlighting a scene more strongly or giving more emotional depth to a character. Etc. You get the picture.
Here is an example where the author is an idiot. For half the book, I used the word eyrie. For the other half, I used aerie. Which is correct? Since the book takes place in a far-future Europe/Africa, I went with eyrie since that is the British spelling. It’s better than the American version. This is what an editor does. Catch these dumb moments by a writer!
It took me a week to finish the edits. The Tempered Steel of Antiquity Grey is a better book for it. I owe that to Betsy. And I hope those in NYC see the power within Antiquity’s story.
More news to share when I know it! Fingers crossed!