Guest Post: Jay Wilburn #WinterofZombie

Dead Song Book 2 front cover

Winter of Zombie 2015

The Miracle of a Smooth Edit

by Jay Wilburn


I write in a lot of different genre with the ghostwriting I do. I write both fiction and nonfiction for various clients. There are different English conventions for various countries around the world. There are many different written and unwritten rules for various genre and subgenre as well. The editing requirements are a little different for each one and from client to client as well.

With my own work, I benefit greatly from the work of a good editor. I will borrow and experiment from multiple tool boxes for any given work. There are methods for communicating emotion in romance that vary from literary. There are ways of building tension through the mechanics used in horror that are a little different from a build-up in a thriller. The language used in an epic fantasy varies from dark fiction in what is allowed and what isn’t for those markets and target audiences. The aesthetic language of imagery in a steampunk story borrows from, but uniquely varies from historic fiction or science fiction. As I borrow from each of these to try to enrich my own work, sometimes an attempt on a scene has to be dropped or, if it does work, it has to be blended to create a flow over the entire work. After my best attempts to piece these things together, a good editor can fix my efforts to edit myself.

I decided pretty early on in my writing career to trust my editors and let them do their part in my work. Some of them had a heavy hand in edits, but I do feel like I learned something from each of them including the ones that were a little harsher upon my voice as I went along.

I think I benefited most from editors that found a way to smooth over my style without erasing it. If they could leave in the broad strokes and quirks of characters and imagery, but finesse my sentences into a flowing narrative where I failed to get the angles and edges just right, that proved to be the greatest work I put out for the world to judge.

Sometimes, fixing my botched mechanics and grammar has been good enough. Sometimes I want a jarring transition or a rough break for some story reason. I’ve had a lot of smart editors that pick up on those points and have helped me to make those moments even better through their suggestions and surgical cuts. As I said before, all my published work has benefited greatly from the editors I have worked with in big and small markets and paid for through my self-published work.

There is something truly miraculous about a smooth edit though. Sometimes it has to do with an editor that gets that particular genre. Sometimes it is because the voice of the author and the voice of the editor harmonize in a particular way. Some editors are simply artists and they work their preverbal pens or track changes work with the skill of a fine brush on canvas. Something about the mechanics and structure after the edit moves with an ease and rhythm that feels perfect. The words no longer seem to get in the way of the story and the experience. You might be able to point to particular changes or adjustments that helped achieve that change, but it is greater than those individual changes. Even the choice to make the change as opposed to suggesting it or pointing out that it needs to be changed and leaving it to the author to make the call is an art form in and of itself.

I met Sara Marian through author Jack Wallen. He writes a good bit of zombie fiction as well as steampunk, horror, and dark fiction with a literary bent. I’m looking forward to seeing a retelling of Frankenstein that he is currently shopping around. I approached him and others as I needed an editor for book 2 of the Dead Song Legend. I was not dissatisfied with the editors I had used on previous work; it was just an issue of timing and workloads of people available. Jack connected me with Sara. I ended up meeting her in person for the first time at Imaginarium Convention in Louisville after she was already working on the novel.

As I read her edited version of the novel a couple weeks later, it was one of those smooth edit miracles. My voice and story were still there, but the words didn’t bog down the story any longer. As I responded to changes in comments, I saw the difference those changes made too. She also completed the work early so that she could do a second pass after my edits. I think she expected me to argue some of her comments, but that’s not how I tend to work with editors. After her second pass, we had the story smoothed down to a fine piece of work.

I suppose this reads like a commercial for her work which I do recommend. It is also meant to recognize the role that editors play in the professional process even for and especially with self-published zombie novels. That perfect, final, published version of the story is worth striving to achieve. Standing out with readers in the growing sea of work out there comes down to the quality of the product that’s being promoted. The professional touch of the right editor is a vital part of that achievement.



Dead Song Legend Dodecology Book 1: January from Milwaukee to Muscle Shoals

Start the series here è

Dead Song Legend Dodecology Book 2: February from Vicksburg to Cherokee

Continue the series here è

Check out the first soundtrack to the series, The Sound May Suffer: Music from the Dead Song  here è

or on Spotify. The hard CD is also available on Amazon.



Author Jay Wilburn

Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in Conway, South Carolina near the Atlantic coast of the southern United States. He has a Masters Degree in education and he taught public school for sixteen years before becoming a full time writer. He is the author of many short stories including work in Best Horror of the Year volume 5, Zombies More Recent Dead, Shadows Over Mainstreet, and Truth or Dare. He is the author of the Dead Song Legend Dodecology and the music of the five song soundtrack recorded as if by the characters within the world of the novel The Sound May Suffer. He also wrote the novels Loose Ends and Time Eaters. He is one of the four authors behind the Hellmouth trilogy. Jay Wilburn is a regular columnist with Dark Moon Digest. Follow his many dark thoughts on Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope as @AmongTheZombies, his Facebook author page, and at

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The stench of frozen flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 40+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser…and pick up some great swag as well!

Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them!

#WinterofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!

3 thoughts on “Guest Post: Jay Wilburn #WinterofZombie

  1. Pingback: Guest Post: Jay Wilburn #WinterofZombie | Zombies Inside

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