Monday, February 7, 2011

Love Thy Editor

 This morning I was reading an article in Writer’s Digest called 25 Ways to Improve Your Writing in 30 Minutes a Day because I hold no illusions that my writing can be improved.  In this article was a quote on style from “an elderly practitioner” which read “Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar”, which I found interesting.  As most of you probably know from different interviews I’ve participated in, my major in college was Physics not English so my working knowledge of grammar and punctuation leaves something to be desired. For me, this results in a fundamental respect for people with that knowledge, especially my editor.

Since I’ve started working with Dreamspinner Press, the editing process for my work has changed in a very positive way.  The books released through the publisher go through not only my personal beta but several levels of editing at Dreamspinner.  Little Boy Lost: Enlightened just finished the second round of editing and the suggestions that the editor made for continuity, timeline, and logic made the book so much better.  For example, the editor caught that I’d had Brian and Jamie sitting across from each other at a lunch table with two other guys across from them.  While technically possible if they were on the end and opposite another table, it isn’t what I’d intended and was able to change it.  I had read that passage dozens of times in my writing, revisiting, and revision and never even thought twice about it.

Being in different author circles for the past year, both amateur and professional, I’ve heard the phrase “those who can’t write, edit”. I don’t share that sentiment at all.  First, my beta is a very talented author who has her own stories and her own fans. One story in particular evokes very powerful emotions in her audience, and her descriptions of setting and mood rival a lot of published authors I’ve read. Second, if it weren’t for editors and their breadth of knowledge and experience, books would still be the working clay model and not the artistic sculptures that they eventually become. In my case, I really hope they’re paid by the misplaced comma because they’d be able to retire.

My take is that I took the clay to mold Brian and Jamie out of my own imagination. It took the right tools, time, and creative energy to make them beautiful. My beta looks them over and with her amazing eye for detail tells me that because of a certain piece, the sculpture is off-balance or that just a bit more clay along this edge would make it perfect. The editors at the publisher, however, take that piece which is the best that my beta and I can make it, and turn it into a finished, fired, glazed work of art.

So, to everyone who has worked on my books - from those that decided my clay was worth showing, to those that help me package it, to those that help me make it worthy of an audience – I sincerely thank you.

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