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An unsure Editor


Kurt

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Okay, i am an editor of a online story called It Feels Like Monday. I enjoy editing it, and I really like the author, he is a great guy. However, I think that I do a bad job at editing. I have talked to the Author about it some, but he told that I am doing fine. I am not really sure what I should do..?

Kurt

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Editing covers the gamut from spelling and grammar mistakes all the way through to commenting on plot and assisting with story-flow. It is not common to be able to do that full spectrum well.

Why do you feel you're not a good editor?

If you think you need to be able to do everything, then don't. As you gain more experience you'll be able to expand what you do, but if the author is happy with what you are doing then that's the main thing. After all, it is the author who is putting their name to what is being posted.

The other thing is that editors range from minimalists who make the smallest number of necessary changes, to those that go through the whole document with copious amounts of red-pen (see the editing demos in this forum for examples of the two extremes). Both extremes are fine, because a lot depends on what the AUTHOR is looking for. Different editing styles suit different authors.

And I'll end by saying that I am NOT an editor and I sincerely doubt I'll ever have the required skills to be one. I definitely appreciate those that do.

Graeme :icon6:

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Thank you for your reply Graeme.

I think that I am not a good editor because I know that I miss things while editing, and the only things that I am really able to do are spelling and grammar, but, I am not very good at doing that. Maybe it is just me being paranoid about my 'work.' I dunno.

Kurt

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That's all a lot of authors ask for, so that's fine. Missing things is normal, too. I've seen typos and mistakes in printed novels, so professionals miss things, too.

As long as you pick up most of the things, and that you find yourself improving, then don't worry about it.

Just my opinion.... :icon6:

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I'm certainly not an editor, and barely an author (1 short story), but I seem to have a bit of a knack for spotting typos, spelling errors, and incorrect word use, like 'too', 'to', or 'two'. I have read lots of stories which have been edited and yet have those above listed errors. It just happens that that particular editor was better at guiding the story a bit, tweaking the flavour, than finding niggling details. Which one improves the story? Both do. You might want to think about getting someone with opposing talents to help you out, if you really think it is a problem.

As Graeme mentioned though, if the author is happy, don't worry about it. On the other hand, if you're not happy, why are you bothering to do the editing at all? You too need to get some satisfaction out of it.

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I like to edit, and have done some for one writer. I divide editing into a several separate areas.

First:

Spelling, grammar, tense, person, word usage, punctuation.

I'm brutal about bad word usage ("their" instead of "they're" for example), mixed person, spelling (but see below), tense, and punctuation have to be fixed. A story filled with mistakes becomes irritating to read. Grammar is a bit different. In dialog and first-person narration, grammar needs to be flexible so people, especially kids, sound real. Word usage and spelling have to be flexible; use of slang, dialect, IM abbreviations, "creative spelling" ('cuz for because, "anyways") may be OK in dialog and first-person narration if not overdone.

Second:

Plot consistency.

Things like mixing up or changing characters' names, driving from Atlanta to Jacksonville in 30 minutes, and other inconsistencies need to be identified.

Third:

Plot and characters.

It's not the editor's story, it's the author's story. Editors can point out what they think is wrong with the plot or characters, but it's up to the author to accept or ignore the suggestions.

These are my opinions. Other editors may take a different approach, and that's great. Just like each author is unique, each editor is unique.

Did this help?

Colin :icon6:

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Even those of us who have been editing for awhile miss things. I will sometimes send something I'm working on for an author to a friend who goes over it and points out things I've missed. This person also happens to be a Beta Reader for that author.

I'm also involved in a new program elsewhere for Editors/Beta Readers. If you'd like to know more about it, contact me and I'll tell you what I can. We have some interesting things planned.

Jan

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I edict mine owned werx and rarelly fined anysthink wronged wiv it; but sum peeple kneed help and I half grate respkt for eaters edictors.

:w00t::w00t::wacko::hiya:

There was a movie I am trying to remember about a first-time author that was befriended by a publisher-editor who assisted the creative process as editor beyond just correcting grammar and spelling.

I wish I could recall it as it really shows the collaborative approach that can be part of the author - editor relationship without the editor altering the writer's original concept.

The editor just encouraged through discussion, the creative process to draw out what was already there in the author and his writing.

There have been a number of movies that have had this kind of relationship in the plot and I always find it interesting as it is not something we normally think about.

On the other-hand not every writer wants this kind of editor but just wants a good proof-reader who can be invaluable, as it is next to impossible to proof our own work from all errors.

Let's face it most of us can use all the help we can get. :icon6: So Kurt, if your author is happy with your editing then you must be doing something right or at least what he needs. :w00t:

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If the author is happy, don't worry about it. On the other hand, if you're not happy, why are you bothering to do the editing at all? You too need to get some satisfaction out of it.

I agree with this entirely. Unless he's sending you a large cheque! :icon10:

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There was a movie I am trying to remember about a first-time author that was befriended by a publisher-editor who assisted the creative process as editor beyond just correcting grammar and spelling.

I can't remember the movie either, but I've tried to do that with several people for whom I've edited their work. One thing I believe in is telling them when their story has a logistical flaw -- like a character doing something bizarre and unexpected, an unexplained plot point, or a factual impossibility, like driving from one part of LA to another in five minutes. (This happens in many episodes of the TV series 24, which makes we natives crazy.)

I think if the editor can pose questions to the author along the lines of, "why does this character do this?" or "where is this headed," it could help them make the story make more sense. I also like to see every chapter have a point to make in the complete novel. In other words, "what purpose is served by this chapter? Would the book be stronger if you left it out? Are you just restating what you've already said before?" Likewise, if something seems rushed and too abrupt, maybe ask the writer to expand on that a little bit and add more details.

To me, dealing with the conceptual problems is far more difficult than just spelling and grammar. If a writer doesn't have a good answer for the question, "what is really the theme of your story -- what is at the heart of what you're trying to say?", then you may have a big problem.

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Pecman, I think what you say is extremely helpful, particularly the questions you ask.

Such questions are usually part of my writing process, but I also ask them when I review what I have written.

I usually wonder if I have asked myself all the right questions and that brings me to the thought that sooner or later an editor is going to be needed who will ask the questions I did not think to ask.

The Pecman wrote:

If a writer doesn't have a good answer for the question, "what is really the theme of your story -- what is at the heart of what you're trying to say?", then you may have a big problem.

That is probably putting it politely. Thanks for pointing that out. :icon10:

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