Friday, November 09, 2007

Ursula Says! Play nice

My internal Editor, now aptly named Ursula, will be taking over my blog today. Everyone stand well back from the yellow line and put your safety goggles on. Thank you.
For my first post I was going to talk about ellipses since they're one of Jennifer and Bernadette's big problem areas, but having hopped around the blogosphere yesterday and ran across a post on editing by fellow author, editor and cover artist, Rene Lyons, I thought I'd pick something even more basic and discuss the evilness of editors.

There's always been the stereotype of the Evil Editor - take for instance The Evil Editor's Blog and Angela James's Nice Mommy, Evil Editor blog.

Perhaps we like to perpetuate the myth so that authors are a little bit afraid of us. Maybe some healthy fear is good, but when it creates an adversarial relationship it's very bad.

I'd just like to dispell some of the idea [but not all of it of course] that editors, whether internal or external, aren't all bad. Sure we like to redline the absolutely best paragraph in your WIP and tell you it's purple prose. Yes, we enjoy making you weep with comments like 'headpopping, ouch!' or 'WTF?' scribbled in the margins of your manuscript next to the blood and tear stains you've left there during your own laborous process of producing your baby. Trust me, it's a blast for us, but our goal isn't to leave the writer a quivering mass of raw emotions curled in a ball under her desk. [Though we'd like some photos of that if you have any]. Our goal is to help the author create a better story.

Whether you're dealing with your own internal editor [and I'd like to meet her, btw, because I'm forming a support group] or someone who works for your publisher either for cold hard cash or simply because they get off on the smell of red ink, bear in mind that editor's are people too. Some are more experienced than others, and some of what we gleefully type into those gray word bubbles in the right margin, are simply opinions. Some of what we tell you is not opinion, it's fact. It's okay to keep certain suggestions and chuck others, but please consider all of them and weigh whether or not your ms will be better having taken the advice of your editor.

I've heard of big wig authors who are so popular, so well-selling that they can request [or perhaps are offered] a no editing clause in their contracts. When Jen and Bernie get to that stage [did I say when??] I plan to be standing right beside them ready to smack their greedy little hands with a ruler if they decide to sign such a contract. I want them to be able to put in their contracts that they will get the 'best, toughest, most experienced, kick a$$ editor a publisher has' because I believe you want someone who is tough enough to tell it like it is. Those authors who eschew editing --- it shows. Let's be honest. It shows. You don't want that. Do you?

So, my point for today is, embrace your editor. You don't have to be afraid to challenge a suggestion, but don't look at an editor as an enemy who is going to rip apart your work. I prefer the 'machanic' anology. I'm here to look under the hood and tell you where that rattle is coming from so your story will purr like a kitten and be able to carry you the distance.

We're not evil. Gleefully macabre, perhaps, but not truly evil.

1 comment:

Gwen said...

This takes on a whole new meaning now. *gulp* I hope Ursula and I get along!