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Monday, March 1, 2010

How To Be Edited by Danny Birt

Dedicated to all those writers out there who will go through the editing process.

There are many tales about the experience of having one’s story edited. Most of those tales are told from the author’s point of view, but focus on the editor’s actions during the process. For a change of pace, let’s take a look at a few of the author’s possible re-actions during the sort of editing process wherein the author actually gets a say in what happens to their manuscript. Do any of these hit home with you?

1. The “Les Miserables” Reaction: Author sends in the ‘perfect’ manuscript which they understand might be read by an editor as part of the publishing process. Naturally the manuscript is accepted because of its perfection, but when the author receives a copy of their manuscript back, instead of unbridled praise of their genius they find the editor has made actual CHANGES. Weeping, gnashing of teeth, beating of breasts, et cetera, occurs. Author either withdraws the manuscript or complains bitterly throughout the editing process and argues against the editor taking such drastic measures as correcting misspelled words.

2. The “Fainting Goat” Reaction: Author timidly mails in a manuscript they fear might actually get picked to be published. Author faints. The manuscript is accepted. Author faints. The first round of edits comes back to the author for their perusal. Author okays everything, changes nothing else just in case the editor would get mad at them for daring to suggest something that might actually improve the story, then faints. Story is published as-is. Author faints.

3. The “Premature Ejection” Reaction: Author types up a story and emails it to a publisher, all during their coffee break. Author then rereads the story and makes some changes to it. The original story is accepted, and the author receives an edited copy. Author sends the editor the revised story, then rewrites the rewrite and sends it before the editor has even gotten back to them on the rewrite. Author decides to rewrite the rewrite of the rewrite, and sends it right before the editor finishes editing the rewrite of the rewrite. Author sends another rewrite, but the story has already gone to print. Author receives published story, and rewrites it.

4. The “Professional Author” Reaction: Author has written a story, set it aside for a length of time, and has edited their own work to their satisfaction. Story is accepted by a publisher, and author receives an edited copy of the manuscript. Author accepts majority of editor’s changes, explains why other changes do not quite work, and after having considered how their reader’s point of view differs from their own, makes changes to overall story. Manuscript is returned to editor; process repeats until both are happy with end result. Author learns from editing process, and their writing style improves.

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Learn more about Danny and his writing here.

9 comments:

V.R. Leavitt said...

Great advice! I hope to achieve the 'Professional Author' reaction at some point. :-)

Jaleta Clegg said...

But even the professional does a little bit of crying over the amount of red ink spilled on the manuscript. Then they get busy fixing. If we didn't think our writing was good, we would never submit it.

Jean said...

I do "the stomp around muttering horrid things under my breath for about an hour then suck it up, realize the editor was right and then get to work fixing things" reaction.

Eerrrrr...I mean, I used to do that. Now, I'm totally professional about edits.:-)

Cheryl said...

What a great article. I've heard I'm pretty easy to work with. I hope that's true--maybe people are being kind. :)

Off to share this with the world.

Cheryl

kathy stemke said...

Great article. i strive to be #4!

sundale2 said...

Interesting look at things. I definitely used to be the Premature Ejection fellow. Then I got older, wiser, more practiced, and have now settled into what I hope is the professional author. Hard to tell since I have yet to get accepted (three rejections and counting). :)

sundale2 said...

Interesting look at things. I definitely used to be the Premature Ejection fellow. Then I got older, wiser, more practiced, and have now settled into what I hope is the professional author. Hard to tell since I have yet to get accepted (three rejections and counting). :)

Jean said...

I do "the stomp around muttering horrid things under my breath for about an hour then suck it up, realize the editor was right and then get to work fixing things" reaction.

Eerrrrr...I mean, I used to do that. Now, I'm totally professional about edits.:-)

kathy stemke said...

Great article. i strive to be #4!