Writers On Writing / The crucial step of editing, with Aleesah Darlison

We chatted to award-winning author Aleesah Darlison, about the crucial step of editing in the writing process.

Can you tell us a bit about your own editing process when you are working on a manuscript?

After completing my ‘first flush’ without any backtracking, I’ll then edit my draft manuscript multiple times. I’ll rework characters, dialogue, settings, action scenes, language, humour … slowly but surely I work through each layer. Sometimes I complete upwards of ten or twenty drafts before I unleash the story on my ‘beta readers’ for feedback. Then it’s another round of edits before I submit to my editor … who even then may ask for a structural edit before we move onto the line edits. Editing is a crucial part of the writing process and isn’t finished until the book goes to print.

When is a good time for writers to seek professional editing for their manuscript?

If you’re an aspiring or emerging author and you need guidance. If you’re an established author who needs help ironing out kinks that instinct tells you have crept into your story. Or if you simply want to put your best foot forward. I know several established authors who always engage an editor before submitting manuscripts. You only get one chance to submit a manuscript in this highly competitive market, so you need to ensure that your story stands out for all the right reasons!

What do you look for in a good children’s book? What about a good YA book?

In children’s books, I look for a strong opening hook and engaging characters who kids will relate to. Language and voice that speak to the child reader are crucial as is a believable problem to be solved. Action, adventure, and humour are important too. For YA, it all hangs on the main character – their likeability and their believability – and on the narrator’s voice. Temptation, awakening passion, romance, and a little fantasy or magic are quite appealing too!

Aleesah Darlison writes picture books, chapter books, novels and series for children. Her story themes include courage, understanding, self-belief, friendship and environmental issues. She has won several awards for her writing and has had numerous short stories, articles and book reviews published across various mediums. Aleesah’s picture books include Stripes in the Forest: The Story of the Last Wild ThylacineMama & HugEmerald: The Green Turtle’s TaleFox and MoonbeamPuggle’s Problem, Our Class Tiger (2015 Wilderness Society Award Winner, Non-Fiction), and Warambi (2012 CBCA Notable Book Non-Fiction; 2012 Wilderness Society Award for Children’s Literature Shortlist). Her novels and series include Ash RoverLittle Good Wolf, Running from the Tiger, the Totally Twins Series, the Little Witch Series, the Netball Gems Series and the Unicorn Riders Series. Aleesah travels across Australia and internationally teaching creative writing and the power and value of the written word. Visit aleesahdarlison.com.

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