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Writer's Diary

    • 5 posts
    July 11, 2018 6:20 AM MDT

    July 11th:

    I have begun to edit my work in progress.  Seven days, two chapters in, and I have cut 1480 words from 10,000.  (I write long chapters.)  It's a good job I'm not writing for weekly serial publication, although I have met overnight Press deadlines in the past.

  • July 11, 2018 2:23 PM MDT

    I find writers' attitudes so interesting about editing - across the board from 'grr, hate it' to 'gives me the greatest satisfaction'. On a given day, I'd be each end of that scale, but mostly somewhere in between.


    A couple of the challenges I do most weeks with prompt words are most beneficial to developing the habit of tightening my words. One demands around 500 word 'flashers' from a single word, and another - 6 word prompts are kept within a few paras at most. Then there's Drabbles (100 worders EXACTLY on any subject) that I do occasionally.


    So, where's all that cutting here and now? Ahh sorry, but this writing's for pleasure!

    Hope we hear more comments on others' attitudes to this editing subject, Judith.

    • 7 posts
    July 13, 2018 2:47 PM MDT

    "Hope we hear more comments on others' attitudes on this editing subject"

    Well, you asked...

    "Internet wisdom" says that writers and editors may as well be completely separate species, because a person can be either a writer or an editor, but not both, because these are different skill sets (true) that use different sides of the brain (false: the "right brain/left brain" things is nonsense), and since no one can use both sides of their brain equally well (false) because every human is either right-handed or left-handed (false), no one can be both creative and logical (false), which means editors don't know anything about storytelling (false: have you kids not heard of developmental editors?), and writers are clueless about the "trivia" of spelling and grammar and word choice (false).

    I love writing. I also love editing. (I'm ambidextrous, though, and have a neurological "glitch" -- note the use of quotation marks to indicate irony/sarcasm -- that makes me both creative and logical, so make of that what you will.) I love editing even when I am temporarily annoyed at having to make the same corrections over and over again, or much worse, when I'm not allowed to fix certain things that are objectively wrong because a publisher mistakenly thinks making those corrections would slow me down too much, and they're already behind schedule because the author took far longer than expected to write the novel... (It takes more mental effort on my part to ignore wonky sentence structure or inappropriate word choices than it does to just fix these things and move on.) Sometimes, correcting punctuation and whatnot is actually soothing. (Weird, right? And that reminds me: I haven't posted today's "Writing Glitch" on my blog yet.) My clone-sibling says it's because I'm a creature of chaos and thus need a lot of order in my life to balance that. (Obscure fiction-reference humor is my other superpower. laughing ) Although developmental editing for other people is not easy for me (if I don't know the author and the author's intentions for the story, I can't make recommendations on how to guide the story in that direction), I do find that aspect of editing enjoyable when it's for my own writing (or my twin's -- not that there's any real difference after more than two decades of collaboration).

     

    • 5 posts
    July 14, 2018 6:11 PM MDT
    Christine Larsen said:

    I find writers' attitudes so interesting about editing - across the board from 'grr, hate it' to 'gives me the greatest satisfaction'. On a given day, I'd be each end of that scale, but mostly somewhere in between.


    A couple of the challenges I do most weeks with prompt words are most beneficial to developing the habit of tightening my words. One demands around 500 word 'flashers' from a single word, and another - 6 word prompts are kept within a few paras at most. Then there's Drabbles (100 worders EXACTLY on any subject) that I do occasionally.


    So, where's all that cutting here and now? Ahh sorry, but this writing's for pleasure!

    Hope we hear more comments on others' attitudes to this editing subject, Judith.

     

    • 5 posts
    July 14, 2018 6:25 PM MDT

    I have noticed that you respond to prompts - and very well too.  I generally freeze up when presented with a prompt.  But in a "free writing" session at my local writers' group, give me a couple of minutes with my eyes closed, and I will write happily about something that has appeared spontaneously among my thoughts.

    However, I am in complete, utter and full agreement with what you say regarding the value of such writing activities.  I strongly believe that writers need to be objectively aware of how they are writing, to the extent of practising technique, as you do.  

    Great writers seem to work with an innately high level of technical competence.  I'm still working on the development of my own writing technique. 

    • 5 posts
    July 14, 2018 6:39 PM MDT

    I would not be sure when to send a MS out for developmental editing.  To me, the development/initial balance of a novel belongs very much with me, the writer.

    I have a certain audience in my mind, a readership which I know will find interest and enjoyment in the style and content of my narrative.  Can I be confident that an editor, especially a developmental editor, will understand my target audience? Does it matter? 

  • July 15, 2018 12:15 AM MDT

    Impressive, Judith - that first comment about how much you've cut. Later you mention the value of practising technique and then speak of development of your own writing.
    Exactly! If you think about any single thing we do as human beings, it's practise that makes a difference. With writing, the more we write (and read our words aloud), the more we 'feel' the rhythm and correctness.
    When in doubt, find something you wrote some time ago and do an edit. You'll be amazed and pleased to find how you've improved.
    The one thing about these prompts I write is that they definitely do need a return visit - much later.
    I'm presently playing with a year's collection from a couple of years ago - tweaking, editing - but not too much. After all, today's writing should be showing some improvement since that time.
    Thank you for your kind comments.

  • July 15, 2018 12:18 AM MDT

    Wow! Thomas. So many terrific thoughts to consider. Love all the true/false statements. SO 'real'.

    What a job it must be to edit without rephrasing to attempt making a silk purse out of a sow's ear. I do the tiniest bit of editing for others who are newbies and ask for help - and laugh at myself, imagining how a real editor would wear out a stash of red pens with my works, and there are other writers asking me??

    A particular bugbear of mine is the concept of 'finding your audience and writing to/for them'.
    Seems so restrictive and unrealistic to me.
    So my Australian farming memoirs? Are only going to appeal to Australian farmers? Not according to my US and UK readers and a few Europeans too - most are fascinated by the differences between rural and urban, and country differences - and almost none are farmers.
    Then there's my 'larrikin' type humour - and the same folk from other places love it.
    Shouldn't our words cause our readers' minds to question and grow and learn because so much is new and unknown?

     

  • July 15, 2018 8:26 AM MDT

    I love to edit my work and that of others. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment to have helped another person to improve their writing.

    I'm also an educator. When I edit, I will make comments in the sidebar to help authors to fine-tune their work on their own. Things like "he said" after every.single.line of dialogue can be removed with a little skill, and dangling participles (the bane of my edited works) can be rephrased if they know what they are doing is not really how it should be done.

    The idea of a job well done, or that I effected a little change, makes me feel like I've accomplished something.

     

    Speak

    • 7 posts
    July 16, 2018 10:45 AM MDT

    Judith:

    "Can I be confident that an editor, especially a developmental editor, will understand my target audience? Does it matter?"

    I believe it matters very much whether a developmental editor understands the author's target audience, intentions for the story, etc. Some developmental editors are good at this, and some... are not. The good ones will help you clarify and develop your ideas to make your story the best version of itself; the bad ones will try to make your story into their story. In my opinion, developmental editors are most helpful for authors who don't have a clear idea of what story they're trying to write, etc. Otherwise, a handful of good beta readers is just as good, if not better, because you get more than one reader's opinion to make sure your story does work for the intended audience.

    • 7 posts
    July 16, 2018 11:07 AM MDT

    Christine:

    "Target audience" doesn't mean -- or shouldn't mean, at least -- "people who have the same sort of experiences as in the story or memoir." It means "people who are interested in this sort of story or memoir." If you write about farming in Australia, your target audience contains people who enjoy memoirs of various sorts, people interested in reading about Australia, and people interested in reading about farm life. The place where all three overlap contains your "ideal readers." Some of them will be interested because they have their own 'farming in Australia' experiences; some will be interested because they have never experienced farming anywhere, nor ever been to Australia, so what's just normal life to you is interesting to them because it's unfamiliar.

    If those of us who write science fiction had to seek readers amongst people who had experiences similar to what we write about... So far, there aren't too many people who've been off-planet at all, much less been as far as epsilon Lyrae. :-)

  • July 16, 2018 4:04 PM MDT

    Thomas: Re: your long post about editors and authors being 2 species.. I am pretty much the same as you on the entire contention.

    Like you: I write and am quite a good copy editor (can do developmental editing though it is not my preference to help someone else write their entire story).  

    I am also ambidextrous. My mom-righty. My dad-lefty. I got blessed with both. 

    Left brain/Right brain:  This? I only somewhat believe, but more on the behavioral level and not on the what-we-can-learn level.  I equate a left-brain person as someone too stubborn to realize they don't really know everything (sounds like the part of the post you put (false) in a lot--that person is definitely left-brained.)  

    Authors use their right brains more than their left brains in the production of a work, but must use the left brain to do research and put logical sentences together. Like you say so well-we use both sides of our brains.

    Very well said, my (soon-to-be) friend.  (as soon as I figure out how to accept friend requests, that is.

    Will.

     

    Speak

    • 5 posts
    July 17, 2018 7:43 AM MDT
    Thomas Weaver said:

    Judith:

    a handful of good beta readers is just as good, if not better, because you get more than one reader's opinion to make sure your story does work for the intended audience.

     

    I do think you're right about this.  I'm a member of a small Facebook critique group of four - all SciFi writers.  We use Google docs to share our material, and what one person may say about a particular writer's work is enhanced by the comments of the other people in the group (including the writer).