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Editor's desk all new, clean, empty... not for long!

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It's important that an editor have a good grasp of an author. No, wait, this isn't one of those stories! Er, well, but it is about editing generally, and editing gay fiction or fiction by gay authors.

Alright, seriously, an editor needs to have an awareness of an author's style or styles and how to maintain that when editing, particularly if the editor needs to suggest how something should be changed.

An editor needs to know how to make suggestions and how to comment on what he reads, what's striking and what's confusing or poorly structured. Then the editor needs to be prepared for the author to be really happy or inspired -- or really discouraged or sometimes angry or stubborn. If the editor and the author can't get along, something's out of whack; time to get a new editor or author, or an attitude adjustment. The editor needs to be friendly enough and so does the author.

To be an editor, you need :) an ego. I'm just sayin'.

Most editors and authors are book lovers, and have a gut feeling for what makes a story work. An author needs to know what makes people and events work, enough to write about it.

An editor should be good with English grammar and spelling, and good at proofing for mistakes. Those are important too, but not as much as the story content.

From my points above, it might seem that there isnt' much difference between an author and an editor. They're really two sides of the same thing. An author edits his own work while he's drafting it. An author bounces his work off others, called beta readers these days, who read a draft and give an opinion. An editor cleans up mistakes, tightens things up like a tailor, and makes comments like a beta reader, only more far-reaching. Then the editor hands it back to the author for approval. It repeats until both are satisfied.

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Alright, seriously, an editor needs to have an awareness of an author's style or styles and how to maintain that when editing, particularly if the editor needs to suggest how something should be changed.

Almost. The editor shouldn't rewrite anything. That is the sole providence of the author. I edit in red, marking merrily away -- often brutally. Good authors like that. I like when my editor says "What the fuck were you thinking?" or something smarmy. It means he/she is paying attention. It doesn't mean I won't argue back. The author gets final say on everything except technical issues (if you need a colon, then you need a colon) in which case a textbook is the final arbiter.

An editor needs to know how to make suggestions and how to comment on what he reads, what's striking and what's confusing or poorly structured. Then the editor needs to be prepared for the author to be really happy or inspired -- or really discouraged or sometimes angry or stubborn.

This is SO true. But the author and editor need not take it personally. The goal of the editor is to make a good author much better. A bad author cannot be turned into a good author by any amount of editing. Bad editing, however, can make an excellent author into a horrific one. The editor must never be afraid to hurt his/her author's feelings. That isn't license to be an asshole. But if something sucks, say so. The few authors I edit, will tell you I'm generally gentle but sometimes I get put out and am completely not bashful about it. And, I abhor laziness in an author.

The editor needs to be friendly enough and so does the author.

Horseshit. Both need to professional. Friendly is nice for an editor but sometimes it just doesn't cut it. The author ought to be nice as the editor is doing him/her a favour.

An editor should be good with English grammar and spelling, and good at proofing for mistakes. Those are important too, but not as much as the story content.

Au contraire, Monsieur. An editor MUST be good with grammar, spelling, syntax, and diction. Otherwise, he/she is not an editor, but just a person reading the story and trying to help. And, yes, the story content is important but that is a stylistic difference. What works for one person will not work for another. I like long, detailed descriptions. Maybe another editor will say "that's too flowery."

An editor cleans up mistakes, tightens things up like a tailor, and makes comments like a beta reader, only more far-reaching. Then the editor hands it back to the author for approval. It repeats until both are satisfied.

Exactly.

I miss my she-bitch editor. She was really, really, really, excellent. She was brutal, argumentative, dictatorial, stubborn, but she also made me a MUCH better writer. She was even a nice person except when she was editing. Comments like "I am disappointed in you. This is shoddy writing and you can do better. Re-do it and send it back." were harsh but got me motivated.

I have yet to find anyone nearly as good as she was. She was an avid reader, a good writer, and an awesome editor. Everyone since, I measure up to her. (I am not trying to offend my current editors, but they just try too hard not to hurt my feelings and aren't nearly picky enough despite my pleas otherwise. The fact is when my readers e-mail me with an error they've found, my editor has failed.)

-- wbms

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Paraphrasing WBMS, "Not to make you feel bad, but you just don't trash me enough." :p

I agree one hundred percent. My editors have been on hiatus of late, and I really miss their ability to say WTF? I'm three hundred pages into a story now, and no one has had a chance to give me what for since around page ninety. I do hope they don't want any wholesale edits when they return. :shock: :smt064 :smt072 :smt065 :smt074 :smt115 :smt084

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Alright, seriously, an editor needs to have an awareness of an author's style or styles and how to maintain that when editing, particularly if the editor needs to suggest how something should be changed.

Almost. The editor shouldn't rewrite anything. That is the sole providence of the author. I edit in red, marking merrily away -- often brutally. Good authors like that. I like when my editor says "What the fuck were you thinking?" or something smarmy. It means he/she is paying attention. It doesn't mean I won't argue back. The author gets final say on everything except technical issues (if you need a colon, then you need a colon) in which case a textbook is the final arbiter.

Errors in grammar and spelling, or other mechanics, I mark and correct, and note the change made. If a simple correction to the sentence structure works, I'll do that.

I comment on problems or things that strike me. If I think it's simple enough, I'll suggest how I think a sentence might be rewritten, outside the text, and again mark how it was changed, for the author to approve. Beyond that, it's a problem the author needs to work out and rewrite, and then send back for re-editing.

I agree, the editor should not rewrite. That's the author's job. -- However, real-world, pro editors sometimes attempt that without the author's approval, something authors need to be very careful about. News editors do so for news and copyfitting reasons.

As to style, yes, the editor needs to know what fits in that author's style in the piece.

An editor should be good with English grammar and spelling, and good at proofing for mistakes. Those are important too, but not as much as the story content.

Au contraire, Monsieur. An editor MUST be good with grammar, spelling, syntax, and diction. Otherwise, he/she is not an editor, but just a person reading the story and trying to help. And, yes, the story content is important but that is a stylistic difference. What works for one person will not work for another. I like long, detailed descriptions. Maybe another editor will say "that's too flowery."

Heh, actually, I tend to drive writers crazy by insisting on formal grammar except in dialogue, or in cases where the writer has the current narrator using colloquialisms as a matter of style or verisimilitude. I tend to look at proofing and English skills as the more basic level, and content and structure as the higher level of editing. So I wince when I see something was missed. My work background includes proofing, typography, and editing clients' work, mostly non-fiction and ads.

Edited to Add:

{

Because I've seen so many errors in English skills from people of all kinds, I tend to be immune to it. This doesn't mean I like it, just that I expect that something like 90% or more of all people will have serious errors in their English skills. However, there are some native speakers and foreign speakers whose English skills are very good indeed. The foreign folks can be really interesting too, in what they know and in the occasional errors. ;)

}

Client: "But, I don't know what to write, can't you write the ad?"

:: Blue looks at Client, who owns the company for which he/she is writing an ad / brochure / report. The Client knows far more about the company and its work than Blue. ::

Blue: "Well, sir / ma'am, think about the audience you want to reach, and what to tell them about your product / service...."

:: Various scenarios from there, including guiding the Client through it, unless it needed more time, such as a brochure or report. ::

Heh, and as someone who's worked with type and graphics, I really will be glad when web pages allow the features provided by programs years ago. Columns, linked story blocks, full typography, proper justification, true vector graphics, better import/export of web and non-web formats....

:: Blue wakes up. Oh, sorry, I digressed. I was hoping for CSS3, SVG, and a few other things not yet invented. LOL ::

Pardon, my work experience is showing. :D

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Thanks Mike, for making a space for the editors. It's an interesting part we take in the writing process: invisible partners with the authors, exerting an influence on the work but deliberately keeping ourselves out of the finished product.

cheers!

aj

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I too am glad to see this forum and thank James for pointing me in this direction. And Dewey for indirectly, for doing the same. Much of what I do and have thought about are here here to remind me.

Thanks,

TalonRider

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