Thursday, September 03, 2009

Sample Editorial Letter #4 SECOND LOOK

This is a sample editorial letter for a second look of a mafioso/suspense/action manuscript.

Let me begin by saying how vastly improved the manuscript is. The writing it tighter, the story flows better, it’s a much better book. However, there are a few areas that I think can use a little more work.

The beginning is much better now. I like the way it starts and then jumps into the present day. However, when it moves to present day it becomes too rushed. We need a little more information on Angela and Dominick Galante. The scene needs more set up – we’re not so sure who Angela is or Dominick, really. Just a paragraph or two on who they are and why she is interested in doing business with him. The scene is the two of them having a serious conversation without much action or introduction. It needs a little more explanation leading up to it: perhaps you could say how she has been searching for years for her father’s killers and now that she has her evidence she is ready to act. But because she cannot go to the police she must take action into her own hands therefore she’s looking for an alternate solution. Dominick can be introduced as having troubles in his territory and he’s in dire need of some help. Some outside help, a mastermind to help him get back on track. Once they start their conversation it will make much more sense. Obviously, we will need just a little more information on both parties than what I have mentioned above.

The scenes involving Luca have improved dramatically. His shame is much more prominent and his humiliation is deserved. The scene where she learns he’s been in the US and hasn’t contacted her is MUCH better. Her anger is and disappointment is much more real. I completely fell in line with her thought patterns and her upset. You really did a great job rewriting this subplot in the story. It adds so much more texture to the tale and makes Angela more vivid and real.

The dialogue is still a little stiff and could use some improvements. I’ve pointed out a few passages in the text.

The scene in the crypt that is now a dream works much better. No need for the supernatural – you won’t abandon any readers this way. It works so much better. I was really pleased with this.

Some of the scenes with the mafia men can use some work and I have pointed these out in sections. There are times when it reads like a textbook instead of a fiction novel: very matter of fact and devoid of drama or action.

Richard and Angela’s relationship is much more believable now. You explained your thoughts on the relationship to me earlier and I can see what you were trying to accomplish now. It has been accomplished in the rewrite.

I’m still having trouble with the ownership of the Malatesta house. I cover this in my page-by-page notes.

Then ending is much better. I like the way it comes full circle – from her vow to avenge her father’s murder to the actual accomplishment of it. The scene with the Chief of Police slumping in resignation just hammers her success home.

Angela is a much more rounded character now.

You need to watch a few things:

A lot of the dialogue back and forth is too dull – there needs to be action. The conversations are important but there needs to be more than just two talking heads with no action: why can’t the pause, scratch their chins, pour drinks, walk around, etc. Have one of them doing something so there is some action in the scenes to make them more interesting.

Also, in dialogue it may be better to write out numbers and abbreviations: “I’ll meet you at Thompson Road around three-thirty.”

Some of the language is still to stiff and awkward – not just the dialogue but the prose. It is too formal. Perhaps you prefer it this way, but I thought I should just point it out.

Be wary of new paragraphs and the indentations. I’ve marked many of them, hopefully all of them. Also, be careful with the structure of your dialogue – I have pointed out a few examples of this.

Also, it’s good-bye not goodbye as one word (as per Websters Dictionary). I’ve changed as many of these as I can find.

Do you want to go with the actual year dates? It will date the book quickly. There’s nothing wrong with it but you may have to change the dates to correspond with a publishing date. You won’t want a book that has a story that’s already three years old by the time it is published. This is not a big deal, just a thought.

Here are the page-by-page notes:

Page 1-10: the intro is MUCH better.

Page 19: Why hadn’t he already read the quote in the times?

Page 25: Need to add ‘Catholic’ to the sentence. There are female bishops in other faiths.

Page 36: Spell out abbreviations in dialogue example.

Page 41-43: The word “goddamn” is used 13 times in the dialogue – that’s really excessive.

Page 55: Would they really skip the burning of the saint? It’s such a mafia tradition… just a thought.

Page 64: Need to attribute people to the thoughts. There are random thoughts that have no speakers attached to them. Who’s are they?

Page 65: This speech is really long winded. Try cutting it down. This is a good example of dialogue and no action.

Page 70: the word ‘dude’ seems dated

Page 79: watch your tenses – ALWAYS use the active voice.

Page 91: This is great – really shows her strength and determination. Excellent.

Page 94: When Angela says ‘Sure as hell this guy is going to arrest me today.’ Makes her sound really guilty!

Page 102: Wouldn’t a parting scene with the two lovers promising to love each other forever really add punch to the end? I think that a scene here could really help the scene in the Algonquin Hotel when Angela gets furious with him. If they have an unwritten promise of devotion it would lend itself nicely to the story.

Page 108: Alter ego? I don’t get it.

Page 113: I’m assuming the wineries are in Italy? Also, this is a great set up for his ultimate demise.

Page 114: The name of the store is Tower Records.

Page 125: why not show us the conversation?

Page 133: Why not put the dream sequence in italics for emphasis and definition?

Page 139: This sounds like her mother was involved with his murder. Why would she stay with the man she knew killed her husband? She could have divorced. This needs clarification. It makes her mother look cold and calculating and the sympathy level really drops for her character.

Page 158: Why feigning sadness?

Page 169: This is too long and drawn out for a quick snippet – you are in the middle of an important scene, to veer off it like this distracts from it. Shorten her reverie.

Page 179: Here is the house problem again. Isn’t the house hers? It belonged to her parents not her stepfather. Why doesn’t she claim it? How can anyone just take it when they know full well that she is alive and the legal heir and owner? This really bothers me!

Page 187: the black and white comment is a bit dated. It’s not uncommon for people of different races to be friends. Especially in the NY area.

Page 187: why is she feigning motherly tenderness? I understand she’s after something. But feigning? It would be better for her character to be motherly but stern.

Page 202: Why does he say the Malatesta house? Should he say, “your” house?

Page 202: She’s very brusque and almost rude to him here. Can we tone that down?

Page 203: Why does she feel unsafe? I understand why because you have explained it to me – but the readers will not know. This need a bit more clarification.

Page 205: dialogue structure is off.

Page 210: This is much better with the description of the scene but it is a bit stiff. Perhaps there could be a little dialogue between the gunmen for action.

Page 221: Most hotels have voicemail so it’s not necessary to leave messages with the concierge.

Page 222: how is NYC her hometown? She went to school there for three years. But she’s a Jersey girl, born and bred.

Page 223: Here is the scene with Luca – she’s excited by the touch of his body – this is cheating on Richard. If she had her promise of everlasting love with Luca (see above) then this would make sense.

Page 227: She still is coming off as a bit too upset and overreacting. The comment of thinking she’s just a common whore is entirely too strong. She sounds like a shrew!

Page 228: Still too overboard.

Page 266: Structure of dialogue needs work.

Page 271: he knows it’s her house – why haven’t they discussed this in the past? He is her boyfriend and it’s an emotional thing for her. It seems odd to me that they haven’t discussed any of this at all. He knows her house burned down and she knows he knows. Surely he would have curiosity over the situation – especially as a lover – not as a cop.

Page 272: yardbirds or jailbirds? Is there a difference?

Page 301: have I missed something? She’s working for the nuns gratis? No? Why is this happening?

Page 309: Who is talking at the bottom of the page?

Page 323: how did they know it was her watching the fire?

Page 324: Wasn’t it her house? Of course the owner is going to inspect the damage caused to her house by a fire. It’s natural – I would assume.

Page 325: Is this the time to bring up the fact that she owns the house? I still have issues with this storyline.

Page 331: It’s December 17th, not the 19th see page 327.