Saturday, July 26, 2008

More odds things I've noticed in the editing process

I think everyone who doesn't have the money for school, or the time--but has a good grasp on grammar and construction, should donate a few months to being an editor. I still can't diagram, since I know the "how and why", but not the tech-jargon. Today, I looked up conjunctions to find the right way to express myself. I can't very well say, "oh, it just...er, feels wrong."

I'm not just learning time-management, common solutions to common problems--how to dissect query letters from the inside looking out, and structure. I'm also learning what trips people up.

I'm in awe of people who hate romance, but submit to a romance publisher. And people who--after a very nice rejection--fire off nasty-grams. But the two biggies are "don't worry, when I get an editor, my editor will fix it", and "I love my writing, I refuse to change any of it".

I find the first one everywhere, on writer's forums, in advice columns, and up close and personal. Some people get one thing published and next thing you know, they're kicked back with garbage--no spellcheck, bad grammar, correctly spelled but misused words and "no plot, no problem". Hey...

...we don't have to buy your next book.


I might ask for a revise and re-submit, but if it comes back with a "why are you asking for revisions? You should be grateful" or in at least two cases, not at all because they think I should have simply bought it, don't think I won't remember.

People who have the class to say, thank you, get brownie points. I have twenty four hours just like everyone else, and part of that goes to work, family, and a shrinking bit goes to my own writing. I clean grammar, fix structural problems, suggest ways to layer and add subtext--I'm not there to ghost-write, and if I point out how to add subtext, y'know--I don't have to. I simply want people who look at my finished product to say, "very nice", not...."My God, what is this?"

To that end, I work hard on making sure people don't telegraph subtext, bash people over the head with clues, meander pointlessly in lachrymose sentences...

...he was the one she loved. He was the love of her life. She'd loved him a long time ago. Now she loved him more. She loved him with everything in her. She'd always loved him. Now as in before. She loved him.

Kill me already.

Which...er, leads into my biggest pet peeve. People who aren't open to change. I struggled with my own edits. I didn't want to be one of "those" people, but I wanted to remain true to my vision (which wasn't as good as I remembered, lol) so I was lucky to find Laura.

As she put it, "if you feel strongly about something, tell me why, and I'll listen". Sometimes I said something, and she countered with...***, sometimes I said something and she said, "okay, that works". But, honest to God--that's why the process is called "editing". It's a partnership of two people who for the common good smooth all the rough spots, and if there's a bit that needs some wood putty--well, I've got a putty-gun and hopefully we can find some sanding paper.

I didn't take Laura's edits and try to put back my originals unless it was so important to me that I was willing to argue till I was blue in the face. Why quibble over an "and", or a logical progression of movement?

I'm far enough away to see that if someone walks through a door and the action takes place on the other side, the door has to shut. And is there something about certain words?

Gina once told me I liked the word, "slammed", and she highlighted them to show me. I've been conscious of it ever since. People have pet words, and sometimes they have pet ways of saying things that sound horribly precious.

I once had a boss who used to break out her lunch and say, I kid you not--"Now it's time for my delicious lunch". I still laugh. I say, "delicious lunch", and nobody gets it.

Why not use a simple word? "It's time for lunch", and wave the lunch box. Simple+action= -cliche. Show, don't tell.

I don't know it's delicious until you show me how it's delicious. Telling me it's delicious is just wrong.

7 comments:

Unhinged said...

These kind of posts are helpful in all kinds of ways for me. It's great being let in on your discovery process as an editor. Fascinating. I feel like I'm learning, too. No, I know am.

One of my overused words in uncertainty. It's been pointed out to me before. I think it's one of those self-fulling prophesies, lol.

Unhinged said...

I also can't proof worth a damn.

Kaige said...

Maybe she was trying to convince herself, Jodi... you know "I'm going to eat this lunch and like it because it's good for me! If I remind myself it's delicious enough times, maybe it will be?"

The thing I find hardest is figuring out how to get what's in my head out on to the page when someone doesn't see that or sees something completely different on the page. One I get a pen in my hand, I also find it harder to look at what I'm working on from a "higher view" instead of down in the lines and word choice level.

Thanks for sharing, I agree it's very helpful to see things from both sides.

jodi said...

lol--that was me venting. I sent a bunch of pictures to Cowboy with me making faces in front of my computer.

It didn't help. Sending the revisions back helped, but not much, since it's going back into revisions again. I never thought I'd have this problem. It just amazes me (amaze is my new most-used word)

Kaige--she was serious. Really. It's just the way the woman talked. With adjectives.

...and you and me both. I saw something in that last scene (deleted scene) with Corlis, and so did Cowboy--but no one else, and it drove me nuts, but if only one or two people get it, then it's got to go back into rewrites. *sigh*

It's a long hard process. *bigger sigh*

Kaige said...

Ok. Then your vents are VERY insightful. :) Feel free to cut loose any time!

Jeanna said...

That sounds like a good bit for a character, the delicious lunch lady.
I promise not to storm into some schlub's office and ask them how the view is from inside their ass. Not like I've done that. Often.

Alice Audrey said...

Vent away.

Maybe someday the author will hear from other authors how amature it is to refuse to do revisions or to send in something that isn't ready.