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Naiilo

Definitions of 'Editor'

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I recently picked up "The Devil's Dicitonary/Cynic's Wordbook" by Ambrose Bierce. It's quite the hilarious read. Since this is the Editor's Desk, i see it only fitting that we define what exactly an editor is. Mr. Bierce has this to say of editors:

"EDITOR, n.

A person who combines the judicial functions of Minos, Rhadamanthus and Aeacus, but is placable with an obolus; a severely virtuous censor, but so charitable withal that he tolerates the virtues of others and the vices of himself; who flings about him the splintering lightning and sturdy thunders of admonition till he resembles a bunch of firecrackers petulantly uttering his mind at the tail of a dog; then straightway murmurs a mild, melodious lay, soft as the cooing of a donkey intoning its prayer to the evening star. Master of mysteries and lord of law, high-pinnacled upon the throne of thought, his face suffused with the dim splendors of the Transfiguration, his legs intertwisted and his tongue a-cheek, the editor spills his will along the paper and cuts it off in lengths to suit. And at intervals from behind the veil of the temple is heard the voice of the foreman demanding three inches of wit and six lines of religious meditation, or bidding him turn off the wisdom and whack up some pathos.

O, the Lord of Law on the Throne of Thought,

A gilded impostor is he.

Of shreds and patches his robes are wrought,

His crown is brass,

Himself an ass,

And his power is fiddle-dee-dee.

Prankily, crankily prating of naught,

Silly old quilly old Monarch of Thought.

Public opinion's camp-follower he,

Thundering, blundering, plundering free.

Affected,

Ungracious,

Suspected,

Mendacious,

Respected contemporaree!

-J.H. Bumbleshook"

Seeing as I am only a beginning writer, I don't think I have an adequate taste yet for defining the word, but I know that many of you are experienced enough to have a personal definition of 'editor'. Please share. Without defining what it is we are talking about, how on earth are we going to understand each other?

-Naiilo

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I recently picked up "The Devil's Dicitonary/Cynic's Wordbook" by Ambrose Bierce. It's quite the hilarious read. Since this is the Editor's Desk, i see it only fitting that we define what exactly an editor is. Mr. Bierce has this to say of editors:

"EDITOR, n.

A person who combines the judicial functions of Minos, Rhadamanthus and Aeacus, but is placable with an obolus; a severely virtuous censor, but so charitable withal that he tolerates the virtues of others and the vices of himself; who flings about him the splintering lightning and sturdy thunders of admonition till he resembles a bunch of firecrackers petulantly uttering his mind at the tail of a dog; then straightway murmurs a mild, melodious lay, soft as the cooing of a donkey intoning its prayer to the evening star. Master of mysteries and lord of law, high-pinnacled upon the throne of thought, his face suffused with the dim splendors of the Transfiguration, his legs intertwisted and his tongue a-cheek, the editor spills his will along the paper and cuts it off in lengths to suit. And at intervals from behind the veil of the temple is heard the voice of the foreman demanding three inches of wit and six lines of religious meditation, or bidding him turn off the wisdom and whack up some pathos.

   

-Naiilo

Damn funny, that.

TR

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For me (and only for me, at this particular time), editing is a process of facilitation. My job is to make the meeting of author and audience as smooth and amicable as possible. The author's intent in writing whatever it is that we are working on has to be my number one priority, and I have to second that effort to the greatest extent that I can, short of rewriting everything, because I also have to be an invisible partner in the finished product. As I commented in another thread, it's a whole lot like the work I do as a nurse, wherein I facilitate my patient's body's ability to heal itself. It's a helping role--I relieve the author of the need to fix every little grammatical and syntax error, and free him to focus more on the creative, visualization side of authoring.

One other thing I wanted to add...I find that editing is often viewed as a technical process, and certainly I won't argue that it has an aspect that is technical, much like writing. But that is the craftof editing...and there is an art aspect to it as well. I am finding, particularly as i edit with Jamie on The Scrolls of Icaria that the art lies in an ability to shape the prose to evoke a response from the audience, and especially in the ability to sharpen that focus.

cheers!

aj

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One other thing I wanted to add...I find that editing is often viewed as a technical process, and certainly I won't argue that it has an aspect that is technical, much like writing. But that is the craft of editing...and there is an art aspect to it as well. I am finding, particularly as i edit with Jamie on The Scrolls of Icaria  that the art lies in an ability to shape the prose to evoke a response from the audience, and especially in the ability to sharpen that focus.

And this is the part where I respect Aaron the most. He rarely chances the content of what I write, but he is constantly sharpening that focus by the use of better words and stronger sentence constructs.

Different editors have different styles, just like authors have different styles. The differences in what they do is not because some are doing things right and others wrong, but because they are approaching the tasks from different directions.

In New Brother, Aaron is helping me make sure that the characters sound like teens -- my teenage years are a distant memory and I don't have a lot of interaction with modern teenagers. This means he is making a lot of changes to the prose, but the improvement that results is very obvious.

In Falls Creek Lessons, Blue restricted himself to minimising the edits, but gave me a explanation of why he had made those changes and a running commentary on the plot which I also found useful in developing the storyline.

I had one experience of Drake doing some editing for me, and I was blown away again.

After these experiences, I can categorically state that I do not have the skills to be a decent editor, and I will always be appreciative of those of you who do.

Thank you,

Graeme

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As an editor, I'm going to enjoy this forum. I've not been doing this very long so I'm still learning new things. I'm currently working with 3 individual authors and a group, all of which are great to work with.

My particular method is it recommend/suggest changes. I feel it is up to the writer to make the changes and not me. When it comes to spelling, if I change it, I let the writer know about it, give them the way they had it spelled. I made the mistake of changing one misspelled word and not indicating where it was. The word was misspelled on purpose.

As I've stated before, because of the work that I am doing, I have developed a greater appreciation for what the Authors do.

An added benefit for all editor's is we get to see each chapter before everyone else.

TalonRider

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Welcome, Talonrider! Always nice to have another prose-mender on board.

when i'm editing, I usually put the old word that i'm replacing in <brackets> and type the new, suggested word in green. That gives the author the option of accepting the new word, or deleting it and going with his prior phrasing, spelling, whatever. Alternatively, if you're working in Word, you can turn on the "Track Edits" option, and it will show everything you've done.

cheers!

aj

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Thanks AJ.

My current method is to highlight the possible problem in green, copy that area and paste it at the end of the document with the location. I then give my suggestion. As for spelling errors, I do them in red. I sometimes change it and still comment about it.

If I may ask, what version of word do you use. I use MSword XL version and don't have the Track Edits. I think I could make use of it.

TalonRider

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Hey talonrider--

I'm using 5.1 for Mac...It's called "track changes" and it's under 'tools' on the toolbar. If you go under preferences, you can customize the way that it highlights both the new text and the old text, and when you turn it on, it will ask you whether you want the changes to show up onscreen only, or on the printed document as well.

I hope this helps!

cheers!

aj

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Word and Track Changes and HTML

* Important, though loosely related: When exporting a Word doc to html, save as "web page, filtered." That will reduce the amount of unneeded crud that Word exports into html, but it will still leave some.

* When you use Track Changes, make sure that if/when you export to html for the final draft, you have accepted or rejected all changes and turned the view to Final instead of Final Showing Markup. -- Otherwise, you will end up with change notations in the html document's markup. For the author's and editor's privacy, you don't want that appearing in the html. -- If you do as listed here, you'll be fine, though.

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You can just cheat (as I do) and edit HTML files in 'Composer,' which is a webpage editing machine included when you get the netscape browser. It's under "windows" in the toolbar. Behaves just like word--more or less--and is very useful for those of us who wouldn't know an HTML code if it bit us.

cheers!

aj

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This Editor?s Desk section is a great addition to AwesomeDude.

First, I want to thank Graeme for his nice comments about my editing. He and I are learning together and we have fun haggling over some of my edits. And then we haggle even more if he edits my edits. :twisted: :wink:

Am I an editor or a ghostwriter? I ask myself that question sometimes as I?m editing chapters for one particular author. I?ve edited almost 30 chapters for him, so far. After the first few chapters he no longer wanted to see the files with all of my red edits. He now just wants to see the finished product. It?s like he starts the work and I finish it, or ?make it work?, as he says. That?s fine with me, since I really like the guy and his stories, and I enjoy helping him make them work.

About a year ago, I got some really nasty e-mails from someone who is not an author but who accused me of being a ghostwriter instead of an editor. He criticized my ?very high schoolish attempts at editing?. He had read some chapters of a story that had been posted at Nifty, and then read my re-edit of those chapters. He really upset me for a while, but I got over it. So, am I a ghostwriter in some instances? Is that cool, or is it not so cool? Do the definitions of ?editor? ? the subject of this thread ? sometimes include a bit of ghostwriter?

Thanks,

Aaron

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Hi, Aaron,

I wouldn't consider what you do for me "ghostwriting".

You make significant changes to what I do, but you rarely alter the content. You improve sentence constructions by re-arranging and simplifying what I wrote, and by suggesting alternative (read: better) word choice.

A ghost-writer would be one who would take the details of a story and write the words themselves. That's the definition I'd use, and I don't believe you meet that definition.

Ultimately, I let you get away with your edits because:

a) I think they make an improvement on what I wrote,

b) I trust your judgement whenever I have a doubt,

c) I know that my grammer, punctuation and word-tense leaves a lot to be desired (though, hopefully I'm improving).

To me, that's part of the editing role -- not ghostwriting.

I'm sorry that you received some abusive emails. Any such emails should have gone to the author, as they are the ones who have the final say in what gets published, and they clearly approved of your changes.

Thanks, always, for the help you give me!

Graeme

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Ghostwriting seems like a term applied to a document, rather than pieces and sentances in a document.

This is what a google I doolged came up with:

*******

ghost?writ?er (g?st'r?'t?r)

n.

One who writes for and gives credit of authorship to another.

*******

So, I suppose that if you were to write a large section of a story, or an entire story, and give it to another as thier work then you would be a ghostwriter. Suggesting specific changes, such as in dialogue, though I wouldn't see as the same...especially if you were replacing terms and such.

Hmmm, what do you guys think about this?

As far as ghostwriting being a part of editing, I am willing to bet that in larger documents it is. In smaller documents and other things like the serialized stories it seems that ghostwriting would be less common. Another thing to think about is that authors will often change things even after an editor had combed it.

That's all i have to say on it for now...

-Naiilo

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Having actually been a ghost writer on some projects and an editor on others I can state that they are entirely two different things.

An editor corects, makes or suggestes changes (making a change - even a significant one - is not ghostwriting). Some authors really need a good knock in the head every so often to get or keep them on track, or to illuminate something for the reader that the editor feels they just won't understand. Authors are great in assuming readers will get the gist... that's normal since the author lives and breathes the work and has a much greater and deeper knowldege of the characters, story, background, plot etc. But sometimes we just do successfully convey that to the reader. Our editors keep us honest on that point.

A ghost writer on the other hand actually does all or most of the writing. Ghostwriters are paid to write. They get the cash for writing (although often not the royalities) while another's name goes on the work. They are usually invisable as far as the reader is concerned. You often see this with biographies of famious, or infamous people. The ghost writer through interviews, research or notes or reminances given to them constructs the work. Ghostwriting is actually a very serious craft - not all writers can do it.

Aaron, Graeme is correct positive or negative comments should be made to the author who then passes them on to an editor... when an author gets a comment the editor should see it if it's germane to their work. I always pass positive comments to AJ on TSOI... he puts in a lot of time slogging through my stuff and I feel he deserves to bask in the glow of a positive comment just as much as I do. Negative comments I usually keep to myself unless they are directly related to editing.

And as far as someone criticizing your efforts at editing... just tell them to write a story or edit one.... then let them submit it here, and we'll all stand at the rock pile and lob a few at them... maybe they will have a different appreciatiation of that it is like to write and/or edit.

Regards

Jamie

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I have to say, aaron, that I wouldn't be comfortable with the arrangement that you have with the one writer, where you receive a rough draft and send him back a finished product. From my personal point of view, what he's asking you to do exceeds the role of editor. I have one writer who only does one edit with me, in general, and then asks me to send him a clean copy with all my edits included...but he always reads the edited copy and makes comments.

Obviously, you're cool with this process, so i'm not criticizing...just commenting on how I would feel about that kind of arrangement. It seems like a bit of a "cowbird" scenario.

cheers!

aj

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I know I've said this before, but as an editor, I don't feel I have the right to change what the author writes, except for maybe some spelling. I can only suggest/recommend something and then it's up to them if they want to use it or not.

And it nice to get some praise every now and then from our author(s), which I've been getting lately, both privately and publicly.

Talon

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