Friday, September 5, 2014

Nightmare on Editing Street by @KarynGerrard #amediting *headdesk*

Will this be a whine fest? Pass the cheese and crackers! I will try to keep my whine to the down-low. What I reveal here is not only my own experiences, but what I have heard from others. This isn't a bash fest on editors.

First off, I freely admit I am not a technically skilled author. No university or creative writing or grammar courses. I am a high school graduate and proud to say so. So my manuscripts are not as polished as they could be, I have improved at least from the hot mess that was my first submission and am eager to learn more. That's how I approach an editing process.

I am not a writer who clutches her story to her ample bust claiming 'this is my baby! You can't change or hurt my baby!' I don't think of my story that way, I welcome all suggestions and a respectful collaboration with an editor. That is the key word. Respect. And it should run both ways.

Truth? I don't like editing. It sucks all the joy out of writing for me, but it is a necessary component if you want to be published and taken seriously. So, you've signed a contract, yay! Now that the flush of victory has passed, reality sets in. The edits have arrived.

Do not be discouraged. Even the most successful of writers have to endure edits. If the edit calls for massive amounts of rewrites or changing your characters, then you need to have a heart-to-heart with the editor. Explain the gist of your story and your characters calmly and thoroughly. Remember you have lived with this story weeks and/or months, someone reading it for the first time may not 'get' what you are trying to convey. If the editor doesn't get it, chances are the reader won't either. Keep your dealings polite and businesslike and do not let emotion enter the process. (hard, I know)

A few compliments wouldn't go amiss on both sides. Editors, did you like a particular passage? Tell the writer! We only need a few mentions a manuscript, a toss of a few grateful crumbs. Did an editor make a really great suggestion on how to enhance a scene? Tell them! But don't overdo it with the sunshine and daisies. Some of the love fests I see on social media make me want to gag.

Also, don't take editing snark public. I am not a fan of editors on Twitter who tear apart submissions or manuscripts for public consumption. Especially ones typed in all-caps. Yeah, that really makes me inclined to submit to the pub you work for. Also writers, don't single out any particular pub or editor for your social media disdain. Not happy? Send them an email. Privately.

If you submit to more than one publisher, you will have seen a pattern of conflicting editing. One told me the Oxford/serial comma was dead. Take out those commas! The next pub told me to put them in. *headdesk* Curly quotes, no, straight quotes. Some highlight every repetitive word on a page, others let it pass. There a ton of examples. Just go with the flow. Your nerves will thank you. Even if you self-pub, every editor is different just as every story is different.

Editing is not fun. It's too much like work and school rolled together in a toxic mix. It makes for a nerve wracking experience. My advice? Pour a glass a wine, put on relaxing music, and wade into the mire and do what needs to be done. Hopefully you will come out on the other side relatively unscarred (and yes, I did use 2 adverbs in that sentence and the Oxford comma! )

Over-editing can strip the author's voice from the story, make sure that doesn't happen to you. If you must speak up, do so in a calm, professional manner. My experience from edits have run the gambit of so light a whitewash it could barely be called an edit, to the meat grinder edit that makes you want to crawl into a fetal position.

Do the best you can. Pick your battles and be the diplomat. If you and an editor just can't agree, contact the owner/publisher. For the most part, just 'get 'er done'. The sooner you do, the sooner the nightmare is over. :)


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