Creative minds are rarely neat...

Posts in category Editing

Editing: A Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

**This is a short paper I wrote for my Editing class, and I thought you would enjoy it.**

In her piece Stet By Me: Thoughts on Editing Fiction, Mandy Brett examines the role of the editor not only in the ‘slightly schizoid’ relationship to the novel and the author but to the publishing industry as well. She examines the levels of editing – from the piece to the individual words – as well as some of the balancing acts editors must do to be successful in their work. However, these examinations do not operate as a how-to for potential editors. Her detailing goes to strengthen her main point: the importance of editors in publishing. In a world where slashing budgets is the new norm, Brett argues that the largely ‘invisible’ role of editors is not one that should be discarded because of its lack of time in the spotlight.

Brett says that the purpose of publishing is “to transmit meaning from a single mind to a large number of minds”, so perhaps it is only appropriate that the editor’s experience is such a schizoid one. The editor must play translator between the one and the many while working with the one and being the many. As if that wasn’t confusing enough, it only stands as the tip of the iceberg in a strange – and somehow glorious to those who do it – world.

If Brett’s experience is to be taken as the standard experience of an editor, then it’s not a leap to conclude that all great or potentially great editors are slightly mad. The madness comes not in trying to find some balance between, for instance, reading for editing and reading for pleasure but in learning to move from one to the other and back again without, as Brett puts it, “thinking your gallbladder is going to explode”. (As I no longer possess my gallbladder, perhaps I’m safe.)

Despite all the madness, there is still a certain mystique to editors and editing (though, perhaps, only in the regard of those who aspire to the profession). Editors are word-bearers, the keepers of small and seemingly dangerous knowledge about authors and the work required to bring their novels to publishing standards. They see novels as they are born – often noisy, messy, somewhat unappealing (depending on whom you ask). Along those lines, the editor must play parent to the author, in a way, delivering criticism with enough encouragement so the authors don’t lose their gallbladders.

Perhaps all I have really written thus far is a rehash what Brett has already written. In that case, I will sum up my reaction in a single sentence:

In the end, it appears as though editors are the stay-at-home parent of the publishing industry: invisible and often unthanked when everything goes right and yet sharply noticed in their absence.

The Dreaded Rewrites…

With all class-related things taken care of and Christmas only starting to ramp up, I find myself in a time gap where I can finally dig into my edits.

Editing is something I have always loved. Whether I was looking over someone’s essay for class or tearing apart my carefully constructed novel, I almost always had editing on the brain. Now I find my love is still here, but the amount of editing I have to do in Fading Echoes is intimidating.

The novel topped out at a few thousand words short of 120,000 words, and a large amount of that needs to be rewritten. For the better, of course. A better ending that gives the hero, Adam, more time to shine – and gives the villain more time as well. But even knowing that the rewrite will be beneficial doesn’t change the fact that I will be changing my ‘darling’.

That’s the way it works. Even when I rewrite and edit again, there will be more changes to be made under the eyes of a professional editor. Such is the writer’s life…

Is anyone else out there editing right now? Do you love it? Hate it? Let me know in the comments.

Let the Edits Begin!

Classes have finished and I am ready to roll.

To be honest, I have a lot of rewriting to do. My last quarter of the book needs to be almost completely changed. I know the changes are for the better, which is perhaps why I am regarding them happily instead of gloomily.

I’m not keen on making people wait much longer for the book, but I won’t sacrifice a better storyline for the sake of being faster. If only I had more hours in the day…

As I mentioned, classes are finished. I am planning on being a lot more active here now.

Writing vs. Editing: Leaving Your Comfort Zone

In my novel writing class, we have been talking a little bit about the writer vs. the editor. Do you edit while you write or write it all out and work the rest out later?

While I have always loved creative writing, my inner editor has forever been right there on the journey, too. I even got my start in ‘freelance’ (if it could be called that) editing in high school.

Editing has always been my fallback mechanism. If I don’t want to write – as it’s always a matter of want rather than ability – then I’ve always gravitated towards editing. While that is a good thing in one view, it’s actually a procrastination technique that many new writers use to avoid writing.

With editing, you’re not putting your heart on the line. When you’re writing, you are.

That’s not to say you don’t take risks with editing. There is always the risk that you could edit the wrong person’s manuscript and get an earful (or worse) because of it. Or, when editing your own work, you run the risk of getting caught in perpetual revisions that ‘protect’ you from taking the risk of moving on with your own work.

Pay attention to when the editor comes calling.

Does s/he attack you most viciously when you’re just starting? Then ask yourself what about starting a new story is scary. Are you afraid to fail? Do you compare yourself to other authors in your genre?

My editor rears her head when I’m in the middle. She tells me about how boring my writing is. Sometimes it’s more just questions about how I think I’m going to resolve all the messes I have been creating.

Or perhaps it’s the end. Does the thought of wrapping everything up together intimidate you? Do you think you can’t do it? Or is it just hard to bring everything you have created to a close and you’re not ready to let things go?

The thing to remember about your editor intruding on your writing space is that your editor is not a bad thing; s/he just needs to learn that there is a time and place. The time and place for your editor is not while you are writing.


Dark Echoes: Cover of the Year!