It Was A Dark And Stormy Night


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.


  1. kacey says:

    Good luck with the line edits.

    I sometimes read over words I’ve written and wonder if I were on drugs or some alien in love with the word “haunted” (and the variations…haunting, hauntingly, etc) and “that” wrote the book.

  2. Margery says:

    I have a list of pet words that is growing longer with every manuscript.

  3. Katie says:

    Yes, I, too, like to find a word or phrase I must adore and Use it on Every Other Line.
    Fortunatly that exploding manuscript thing hasn’t happened, yet.

  4. mary beth says:

    LOL Suzanne.
    How odd about the panel. I think the covers are going to help sales, but I wonder how many younger readers they really bring in. My students read some Supers and that’s about it. They say H/S books are too old for them. They’d rather read Chick Lit.

  5. Jill says:

    I have a love affair with at least one word per book. This last book it was “murmured”. I had to do a search to find them alll

  6. Beth C says:

    Interesting post. Certainly gave me food for thought. As for a word I overuse, I think it differs book to book. In my most current release it was a certain curse word. 😳 I cleaned up my hero’s language (a tad) before I turned it in.

  7. Kelly says:

    Good visual, Suzanne! 😆 Good thing I didn’t wake up the kids when I laughed. I use the same words all the time. I’m afraid the list would be too long to post.

    And I received Cole Dempsey in the mail! Thanks so much! Can’t wait to read it.

    BTW, I love this little guy: :bananadance: Too funny!

  8. Mary Stella says:

    In the first book, too many people spent too much time chuckling. I never picked it up in the writing. Thank goodness the editor did! In book two, I was overly fond of “so” and “now”. Once the editor pointed this out, I then found even more examples and got rid of them. I’m sure I’ll come up with a new word for book three! 😕

  9. Tori says:

    My characters are always glancing at each other, glancing over their shoulders, glancing at this, glancing at that. C’mon, people! Can’t you just *look* at something once in awhile??? :rolleyes:

  10. Mary says:

    I love my editor. She ALWAYS makes my work better.

  11. Crystal* says:

    There’s at least that many people laying hands on their manuscript right now and praying to their literary god. Cliches? :hissyfit:
    I LOVE the smilies. Oh man. Going on a smiley binge. MUST USE SMILEY!
    :whip: hehe
    I love this one.

  12. Anna Lucia says:

    Lord, that image of the panel is truly freaky…. 😯

  13. Amy K. says:

    My word, at least for the current story, is “mess.” It’s a mess. :talktothehand: