The I Gotta Syndrome versus Developmental Edit

With my WIP, I’m processing the edits and recommendations made by Kathryn Craft, who did the developmental edit on my sequel to When Blood Reigns. In short, she recommended replotting. I’m looking at ways I can work her suggestions into what I have. The evaluations and recommendations were extensive, but I’m trying to follow through because I’ve got the I Gotta Syndrome.

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In 2020, shortly before the pandemic hit, I signed up for Kathryn’s Craft’s Your Novel Year writing class. I’d been working on the book before I took her class and started with Alexis being the lead character in the first two books. This WIP comes with a cast of new characters, and Maddie, the balloon lady with a sickly husband, took over the plot. I began Kathryn’s course resigned to having two protagonists. The story wouldn’t work that way. Because Kathryn had gotten well versed in the new characters, especially Maddie, and the writing class came with a discount on the developmental edit, I hired her for the job.

After reading the evaluations and recommendations, the first thing I did was head to the supermarkets and CVS, for when the going gets tough, the tough buy balloons. After a session of balloon-buying and rereading, I began to understand some of the problems. My main character came across too needy and weak. I thought if she kicked serious zombie ass, people would think she was strong. Wrongies. It’s her handling of day-to-day conflict that defines her as a strong character—or not.

I’d gotten attached to my characters and didn’t want any of them to die. So my current version has all the characters surviving. The trouble is, the mayhem the zombies create never hit home to the reader, says Kathryn, because it reads like statistics. Statistics mean nothing until one of your family dies. So a major character will have to die.

To me, repetition connotes having everyone smile or sigh through their lines or repeatedly using the same adjective. It never crossed my mind until I read the evaluation that whole scenes can be repeated—yes, this happened. Also, character A tells character B something, then B repeats the same information to C, and so on.

I got to feeling bad about this. Before I wrote this blog, I had to fortify myself with two balloon purchases first, but Kathryn advised me to think about why I wrote the story in the first place. Mike died from dementia—there is that, but I also have several close friends caring for spouses with dementia—and therein lies my I gotta. Because Maddie’s goal is to find a cure for her husband, and I’d love for scientists to find a treatment for this insidious disease.

I can’t advise anyone how to work through developmental edits or find the motivation to finish their stories, only how it’s working for me. I will finish this, even if it means I’m pushing 90 by the time it sees print. Kathryn Craft is a great editor, and so is Gemini Wordsmiths. You can’t go wrong sending your work for a developmental edit to either one. And look to the I Gotta Syndrome to find the motivation to finish the story.

So how are you making out with your WIPs? Have you sent any for a developmental edit? I’d like to hear about your experiences. 😊

A random commenter will receive a $10 Amazon gift card.

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science fiction tale by Rod Marsden
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