Line edits are the part of the process where you cringe because you used the word “dark” 8,376 times in your book and your editor noticed. (What word do you overuse in your writing?) I’m always grateful but slightly embarrassed to see what I couldn’t see when I was writing the book. Like, the “unbearable jolt of response” when he saw her face, or the “hopeless, precious moment” when he nearly kissed her. (OHMYGOD. WHAT WAS I THINKING?) Thank God for editors who mark that out and write “over the top!” in the margin before it goes to print. In my last book, it was the word pain. They were in pain on every page. My editor called me and said, Suzanne, they are in TOO MUCH PAIN! I know. I really thought they were going to commit suicide before that book was over. Or maybe that was just me.
The line edits for PAX 2 are pretty light, actually. I wrote the last half of the book in my usual mad rush and one of the side benefits of writing quickly is that you don’t spend as much time on description–the story tends to come out more in action, dialogue, tension, tight emotion. They used to like more “flowery” language in category, but the trend is more and more toward tighter writing–and more “single title-ish” covers–to appeal to younger, mainstream readers. They’re so dedicated to this new “feel” for the books that a panel of bigwigs (management and editorial) are now reviewing the first chapter of every book before it goes to print. This sounds unbelievable, but I received the news straight from the horse’s mouth and so have numerous other authors. I think they must have a system to skim them efficiently. Possibly a high-tech cliche radar not available to the general public.
I imagine a shadowed room filled with suits, a hot spotlight glaring down on a sweating page….then the radar beeps and someone screams CLICHE! THERE’S A CLICHE! Then the manuscript explodes in a ball of flames.