Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Distilled TOC

You can never be too clear on the big-picture overview of a complex book in process. Now that we're getting close to being about halfway done, I felt the need to distill the project down and get some clarity on titles for the Parts of the book. This always helps me immensely, because editing in context is worlds apart from simply editing.

Distilled Table of Contents, not reflecting actual chapter titles

Christ Formed in You
A Comprehensive Look at the Christian Life

Part One
Conceptual Foundations: The Gospel and Our Need
1.    Imago Dei
2.    The Gospel
3.    Justification
4.    The Heart
5.    Sanctification

Part Two
Holiness: The Goal of This Earthly Life and How to Pursue It
6.    Holiness
7.    Mortification
8.    Vivification
9.    Motivation

Part Three
The Means of Grace God Uses to Make Us More Holy
10.    Spiritual Disciplines
11.    Suffering
12.    Community


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cut & Paste: Recent email exchanges

Brian wrote on 10/15/2009 regarding Chapter 4:
Okay – here’s a substantially revised version of chapter four. I threw out the introduction and the final section of the chapter, moved a middle section to the front to create a new introduction (which I’m not sure I’m happy with – are you?), smoothed out some transitions, retitled a couple of subsections, inserted most of the material on indwelling sin from chapter seven, and added a (hopefully) clarifying chart showing the relationship between our position and practice in Christ. This revision completely changed the set up of the chapter. It’s now not focused on a problem (whether legalism or license, though I mention the latter), but on how we are to take the resources of the gospel (positional sanctification/union with Christ) and apply them to our lives by “living in sync with the gospel” (progressive transformation). I’ll be curious to see your critique. I’m sure it still needs work!

Brian wrote on 10/16/2009 regarding Chapter 4:
This is slightly revised from what I sent yesterday. I clarified the chart to use the same language (once-for-all-ongoing, definitive events vs. ongoing, personal, practice) that I revisit in chapter 6. Here’s one more idea that I’ve had – should we consider swapping around chapters 4 and 5? There’s a very key link between 4 and 6. But on the other hand, there’s also a key link between 3 and 4. Chapter five, while important, seems somewhat out of the logical flow of the argument. Have you noticed this? Do you think it matters?

Kevin replied on 10/20/2009 regarding chapter sequencing :
As you suggested, I think I am inclined to reverse the order of chapters 4 and 5. That would give us the following progression:


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Adjusting the order of subsections, Part 2

No surprise: After editing, two of the headlines (underlined in blue) were reworded, and four (underlined in green) were shuffled around to form a more logical progression. This logic becomes more obvious when reading the text. Really.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Adjusting the order of subsections

In part of Chapter 7, the draft had twelve subsections designed to help the reader get a better handle on mortification. Whenever I come upon a list of any significant length like this, red flags go up, because in my experience such sections can nearly always be improved by reordering and/or the introduction of subcategories.

I began by writing out the headings on a pad, not even reading (for this pass) any of the associated text. First I labeled each heading as being more in the nature of attitude/knowledge, or more in the nature of practice/application. Then within those categories I tried to put the items into some sort of logical and helpful progression. The result is shown below, original order on the left and new on the right.

I will not be surprised if line editing results in some further changes; Brian has wondered if this might be an area where consolidation or elimination of some categories could help shorten the chapter.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Wordsmithing, Part 2: Introduction to Chapter 7

Here's another effort at succinctly representing edits without providing a confusing amount of detail. Toward that end, I'm also leaving out some minor edits to a few paragraphs.

Blue text is Brian's draft
Orange text represents my current edit (which may change even before it goes back to Brian for his review)
Grey highlight means text was deleted
Yellow highlight means text was moved aside and may appear elsewhere in the chapter.

I thought the idea of sin as a wild animal was worth unpacking a little, offering the reader a longer and more interesting introduction while extending and deepening the teaching content. As with other edit samples I have shared in this blog, some of what appears as "my" text are Brian's ideas moved forward from later in the chapter. Any or all of what appears below may change after Brian sees it.


Revise? Or advise?

Somehow I am still surprised at how the process of line editing can cause me to go back and revisit the work at a higher level.

When I posted an excerpt from Chapter 6 on Holiness, after having read through it, I thought it was in fairly solid shape. But once again — by now I should know to stop predicting these things — when I settled into the editing process I realized that additional changes were probably in order.

This is not Brian's fault. Writing anything of any substance is a process of continual reworking. I once read  that in a reasonably well-written book the average sentence will have been redone seven times. That sounds about right. If anything, it's conservative. As I recall, Josh Harris once told me he rewrote the opening chapter to I Kissed Dating Goodbye 12 times. Of the 12 or 15 complete books I have edited, only two did not need substantial work, and one of these still needed to have several chapters shuffled around.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Very Invigorating and Enjoyable Experience

Yesterday I spent six or seven hours working through the edits and rewrites Kevin recommended for chapters two and three. It was exciting for me to see how Kevin's suggestions helped me reshape content (especially in chapter three, which is more theologically dense than most of the other chapters) in ways that will make it more accessible to the reader.

Kevin had already moved some stuff around to clarify the flow of thought (see the elusive goal of linearity). But this, along with some of his suggested rewrites, helped me see ways to make the chapter even better by (i) simplifying an overly technical section of the chapter that needlessly introduced new theological concepts and (ii) making the final 1/4 of the chapter more concrete in application.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Excerpt on Holiness from draft of Chapter 6

Here is the first lengthy excerpt from the book. Having moved (for now) beyond the introductory chapters that are so important for setting up the rest of the book, the work is going much more smoothly on the editorial side. This is also causing the progress meter (left sidebar) to rise much faster. Remember that your chances to preorder Brian's book for $5.00 ends when the meter tops 30% (details in right sidebar). As you read the following excerpt you will see that Brian does a fine job of bringing Scripture directly to bear in ways that bring fresh illumination.


Novelist Flannery O’Connor once said, “To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost blind you draw large and startling figures.” She did this in her fiction, often ending her stories with unusual, even shocking, twists that force the moral of the story upon her readers.

Our gracious God knows we are almost blind and hard of hearing. And in Scripture, he shouts and draws large, startling pictures to help us understand his holy nature and the character he wishes to form in us. Let’s take a brief survey of these pictures of holiness in Scripture.


Visual Aids: TOC, Document Map view, mind maps

There are three main visual tools I use to help me grasp the big picture of a book and track its progress.

First is the Table of Contents, a few working versions of which I have already reproduced in this blog. (Click the TOC tag to see those.) Mostly I use this as an easy way to scan chapter headlines and keep in mind the overall flow of the book. For the first two-thirds of the editing process I usually keep a hard copy of the original draft of the TOC close at hand for reference and note taking.


Friday, September 25, 2009

An exchange about chapter four


This chapter can be extremely helpful to the reader. But the first part — generally speaking, everything before the “living in sync with the gospel” section — seems to suffer from issues of labeling and reader expectations. Prior to diving in to begin a close edit, I'm sharing these thoughts to see if you wanted to comment or perhaps even undertake some rewriting.

Here are some questions and observations that the early part of this chapter raises for me on behalf of the reader.

As your target reader, the typical Christian in a good church, you ought not to assume I am significantly different from the average American. Greatest country in the world, cradle of opportunity, and all that good stuff being true, there are also the downsides. I want to be spoon-fed. On average I am intellectually lazy, materially spoiled (yet feeling entitled to more), chronically overscheduled and/or poor at personal time management, and I am constantly being trained by the culture to expect things to be even more clear and simple, and even more quick and convenient, than they were just six months ago. You can either meet me where I am or miss the opportunity to reach me.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wordsmithing, Part 1: Line editing & rewriting

This link will take you to the first of five images. Use the right-hand arrow to see images two through five. Following up on this post, these screen captures show the results of basic before-and-after line editing using the compare function in MS Word. The original text that was eliminated shows strikeout and is highlighted in gray. New text is underscored, although a fair amount of this text was Brian's which I moved from elsewhere in the chapter. Remaining original text is plain. Brian now has the final from this process and may make additional edits.

For anyone unfamiliar with the book-editing process, let me note that after Brian and I have completely finished our work, this text is still going to be copyedited and proofread for basic grammatical and typographical errors. So, as an editor, while I do pay some attention to these as a matter of course, they are not top-of-mind matters for me at this stage of the process. Knowing that others are going to do a final cleaning up of the text frees me to focus on more strategic communication goals.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Two progress-report emails

Here is an edited excerpt from an e-mail I sent Brian yesterday:

I think it's great that the blog is taking on more of a two-perspective feel….I suppose this will help people see that we really are working this out as we go along….
It occurs to me as I write this that you as an author do not have the benefit of receiving from me only those thoughts and observations that have had time to mature. As both a co-author and reader of the blog, you are probably facing more challenges than the average author I would work with, because you catch a glimpse of my half-formed observations. [Readers of this blog can probably appreciate the discomfort and awkwardness associated with having a premature draft of anything in circulation.] In other book-editing arrangements, I normally only turn over my thoughts on a chapter when they have taken a more definite shape.  Well, we asked for it.


Monday, September 21, 2009

First Draft of Introduction

Ten days ago Kevin asked me to write an introduction to the book that answers as least some of the following questions:

  • What, exactly, is this book about?
  • How is it differentiated from other, similar books?
  • Why should I read this book and not any one of 1000 other books on the Christian life?
  • What will I gain from reading it?
  • Will my benefit be worth the cost?
  • Is this author able to connect with me through clear and straightforward writing?
  • Does he seem to know what he is talking about?
  • Does he have reasonable credentials to write on this subject?
  • Do I feel welcomed into this book?
  • Is the author going to lecture me or encourage me? (Does he motivate by grace?)
I have been waiting for a quiet afternoon free from other responsibilities to tackle this. But around noon today, several ideas came to mind, so I started writing and worked on the intro sporadically throughout the day. Nine hours and 1600 words later, my first draft is complete.


Pulling back to gain perspective

Once I have gone into the text and begun to edit a chapter or two closely, I usually find myself cycling back and taking a fresh look at the larger structure and purpose of the book. This pattern gets reiterated several times throughout the editing process. There's something about getting down into the line-by-line editing that helps open up the thought process of the author and allows me to then step back and look at the larger work through eyes there that are at least a little bit more like his. At least, that's my goal.

In this instance, I was working on chapter 3, about three quarters of the way through it. This is often the point where some important refinements take place in a chapter as a whole. I looked back at the original title, "The Curse is Canceled," and realized that, after editing most of the chapter, I had yet to come upon the concept of curse in a way that really resonated with the title. That's when I pulled back and thought, Wait a minute, what is this chapter really about? Then I went back to the preceding chapter: What was that chapter about?  And how does it lead into this one?


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Acknowledging the high wire

Because this is a blog chronicling the process of editing, I am walking the high-wire here without a net. I'm laying out the case for how I have supposedly improved Brian's manuscript before he has even seen what I've done. In fact, I may not have improved it at all. I may be totally wrong.

Blogs, like reality TV, unfold in uncertain ways, subjecting their actors to the potential of public humiliation—perhaps this blog more than some others. That's okay. I think Brian and I understood what were getting ourselves into. There is a sense in which he is on a high wire as well. It's probably good for us both.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

The elusive goal of linearity

For the kind of book Brian has written, it is important to make your arguments essentially linear. This raises a challenge that is particularly acute for speakers or preachers who become authors: Reiterating points made previously, or foreshadowing points yet to come, may quite often be a good approach when speaking. It is rarely the best approach when presenting the same material in written form.

I came upon an example of this in editing chapter 3, a discussion of justification. Brian had come to a place where he was making three sub-points about justification:

  • Justification is legal in nature
  • Justification is declarative in function
  • Justification concerns our status before God
Having been at this kind of work for a while, I know it is going to be extremely difficult to write this section in a way that really teases the points apart to make them distinct from one another.


An Author's Initial Thoughts and Feelings

This is my first post on this blog, which Kevin Meath has designed to give an insider's look at the process of taking a book from manuscript to finished product. Since this is my first published book, I'm learning about this process for the first time. My initial thoughts and feelings as we have begun editing have included excitement, gratitude, nervousness, and confidence.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Table of Contents when book est. 8% done

I put material in [brackets] when I know I'm not entirely happy with it and I want to be sure to spend some time with it later.

Table of Contents   

[Part One: Captivated by the Gospel]

1. Imago Dei
2. [Seeing the gospel clearly]
3. [Justification: The Curse is Canceled]
4. The Bondage is Broken
5. The Cure Has Begun

[Part Two: Holiness, the Goal of the Gospel]

6. Beautiful Holiness
7. Killing Sin
8. Growing in Grace
9. Captivated by Beauty

[Part Three: Tools of Transformation]

10. Training in the Spirit
11. The Refiner’s Fire
12. Life Together


My mandate from Shepherd Press

My mandate from Shepherd Press on this project is essentially as follows. I am to:

1) involve the author and elicit input from him, to whatever extent and in whatever manner fits the circumstances, makes him happy, and serves the book;
2) and perform hands-on editing myself;
3) in order to produce a manuscript ready for a final copyedit and proofing prior to typeset.

I plan to do this by a combination of Directed Rewrite, Line Edit, and Substantive Edit work, all three of which I discuss in greater detail at my personal website. When I returned chapter 1 to Brian with suggestions, I was initiating a directed rewrite of that portion of the book.

Brian is looking forward to making the time to work on those suggestions. (He is, after all, a husband, father, and full-time pastor). In the meantime, I am making edits to subsequent chapters and hope to send him back two sample chapters of my edits within the next few days.

So for me, the work has now begun in earnest.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What does it mean that Christ has returned to us our humanity?

This blog is primarily about editing a book. From time to time, however, I know I'm going to be compelled to post excerpts from the manuscript that I find illuminating or helpful. I will try to remember to label them so they can be readily distinguished from the posts that are purely editorial in nature. Here is the first such inspirational entry, a partially edited and excerpted section from chapter two. Brian Hedges comes up with some great material. The purpose of this excerpt is not to encourage humanity to be self-congratulatory, self-exalting, or triumphalist, but to marvel at the graciousness and comprehensiveness of Christ's gift to us.


The practical challenges of displaying before-and-after edits

I want to try to show some initial edits I did recently on chapter 2. Here are two versions of the first three paragraphs of the chapter. First is the original text, followed by my partial edit.

Some of my favorite stories are about characters who find themselves transported from this world to another through a magical object. Lucy walks through the wardrobe into Narnia. Milo enters The Lands Beyond through a tollbooth. Alice pushes her way through the bright silvery mist of a mirror into Looking Glass Room. Neo leaves the Matrix by taking the red pill and going down the rabbit hole. In each adventure, the protagonist discovers in a seemingly ordinary object a portal into a new world.

As we saw in chapter one, we are transformed as we gaze upon the glory of God revealed in Jesus Christ in the gospel. Like Lucy’s wardrobe or Alice’s mirror, the gospel is a portal into the new world of life in the Spirit. When we gaze upon and enter God’s new world through the gospel, we are changed.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:18)

Some of my favorite stories are about characters who find themselves transported into an extraordinary world through something which at first appears perfectly commonplace. Lucy walks through a neglected old wardrobe into Narnia. Milo enters The Lands Beyond through a tollbooth. Alice pushes her way through a mirror into Looking Glass Room. Neo leaves the Matrix by taking the red pill. In each adventure, something ordinary becomes a portal into a new world.

As we saw in chapter one, the most astonishing and transformative portal of all is the gospel. By what at first seem to be mere words, we encounter a truth that can change us forever. Gazing upon the glory of God revealed in Jesus Christ through this gospel, a power takes hold that is far beyond the mechanism of the words themselves. That power is the Spirit of God.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:18)
Click on this link for an image showing a side-by-side view of the before-and-after edits of the full seven-paragraph excerpt. The link takes you to a Picasa page. If you have a fairly large monitor, try clicking on the full-screen icon; it may give you a clearer view.
If anyone has suggestions for a better way to present the side-by-side comparisons please email me (kevinmeath on Google's email service) or comment. Thanks.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Wondering about converting part of Chapter 1 into an introduction

In looking over the first chapter it seemed that the draft was trying both to introduce the book and begin the teaching process. Sometimes this works fine, but I think this book needs to be unusually intentional about distinguishing and defining itself in the mind of the prospective reader.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Original Table of Contents

I am an editor who firmly believes in the big picture. As a result, it is not usual for the Table of Contents to undergo fairly significant change. For the record, here is the TOC as it appeared in the original submitted manuscript.

Christ Formed in You: How the Gospel Restores God’s Image within Us

Table of Contents   

1. Imago Dei
2. Through the Looking Glass
3. The Curse is Canceled
4. The Bondage is Broken
5. The Cure Has Begun
6. Beautiful Holiness
7. Killing Sin
8. Growing in Grace
9. Captivated by Beauty
10. Training in the Spirit
11. The Refiner’s Fire
12. Life Together


Time to launch

A lot of water has gone under the bridge in the past nine months. After consulting with Brian and with Shepherd Press over the past couple of weeks, we decided to go ahead and give this blog a try. Let me give a very brief overview of what has taken place since last November.


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