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"A House in Disarray" background

May 15, 2018
Posted at 1:50 am
Updated: May 15, 2018 - 10:25 am

I'd wanted to explain a little of the history of this story when I first started posting, but much of the detail revolves around how it concludes, and I didn't want to include any spoilers.

The topics: police brutality, the subsequent bad publicity, et al, were already dated when I was finishing up the story. As the number of police shootings mounted over time, the sides congealed between those being shot, and those who didn't want to consider what produced such responses, so it became an 'us' vs. 'them' issue, and while nothing really changed, it made the story feel terribly dated.

And then, deciding to challenge myself. I went and hired a professional content editor, for a significant amount of pocket change, to help me learn how to self-edit my own work, which was the cause of the friction in the story comments with my editor.

Long story short, she disappeared for a couple months, with nary a word, and dumped a radically changed story in my lap (via email), informing me I'd need to hire another editor to 'fix her mistakes', and that I needed to 'accept' her edits as they were, instead of picking and choosing which to implement (like normal editors do). However, instead of raising issues and suggesting fixes, allowing me, the author, to decide how to resolve them, she rewrote whole tracks in her own words, often reducing three to five paragraphs to a single one. (The initial prologue is a sample of her work.)

What she left me with was much easier to read, but she also robbed the characters of ALL of their motivations, gave me flat-out incorrect advice about writing. The worst part was, since she rewrote so much of the story, I couldn't ignore her bad advice without the story sounding schizophrenic, as it would then be told in two 'voices', mine and hers.

As a result, I paid her fee, and dumped the story into the trash as I found it utterly unusable. And there it sat for a couple of years, making it seem even more dated than it was. What eventually saved the day, was my decision to finally throw out ALL her changes, with the obvious exception of the prologue. We then had to re-edit the entire thing for a third time, where we did a much more thorough job. (She wanted to toss out the entire exchange between Becky and Em, the whole 'multiple partners' thing, and focus exclusively on the crime.)

That's why I'm still adverse to hiring expensive editors. I'd done my due diligence, asking for personal recommendations from a variety of authors and sending her a sample edit (the prologue), which we discussed. I'd thought we had a decent working relationship going into the exchange, but I was wrong! Now I'm not sure I can trust any professional. Apparently, she decided my approach to writing wasn't what the traditional publishers were looking for, which I've always acknowledged, and she decided it wasn't 'publishable' without a complete rewrite-by her!

That explains the extensive delay in the story. The story about the plot is a bit more involved. When I started the story, I asked for and received a resource from someone on SOL, Serena Jones, whose father was a policeman and who provided insights into their psyches (most notably the 'sleeping around with multiple partners as a way of keeping their partners from being overwhelmed'). That, in itself, led the story into an entirely new direction.

I thought, making the lead detective a lesbian, would make the story seem less obnoxiously sexist, while also providing an interesting insight into how a single woman might survive in an all-male world of law-enforcement (in its early days, at least). And from there, came the entire section dealing with Em's 'side trip' with Amamda.

As many of you might have guessed, the exchange between them, like the initial 'sex talk' with Becky, is essential to the overall plot, rather than merely diversions from the basic mystery. In short, they address how Em resolves her 'unwinnable' situation of investigating her boss, while also reconciling her womanizing her girlfriends.

Anyway, I thought this extensive history of the story would help you all appreciate a decidedly nontraditional police story a little more.

And please, as always, let me know whether you prefer my approach, or the editor who made such a mess of it. ;-D

Vincent Berg (aka. Crumbly Author)