Saturday, December 12, 2009


A very good friend has asked me for my help in looking over her current WIP. Let me tell you how thrilled I am. I'm not really editing because I don't claim to be that smart. But I am thrilled that she would trust me enough to help her.

The things I have told her are only suggestions which I think is the key to really good editing. No one can do justice to your work but you. You, as the writer, are the only one who has the key to what's in your characters heads. You are the only one who knows their motivations. My job, I think, is to help you find what's missing.

I gave her some suggestions which she liked. And then I re-read what someone else said about her work and tried to find, to suggest, what could be better. What HE actually meant. And I don't have a clue because I'm not him but I sort of think I figured it out.

Editing is different than revisions, for me anyway. When I'm in revisions I look for trouble spots, I look for things to take out, I look for what doesn't work. In editing, I'm not actively looking. I'm enjoying the read until I FIND something that doesn't work, that doesn't make sense, that could be a little bit tighter.

Perhaps then revisons are active and editing is passive. I don't know. It's just my own humble opinion.

What do you think?


Lady Glamis said...

That's very interesting! I've never thought of editing and revising different in that respect. I've always thought of editing as more cut, cut, cut, and revising more rewriting and actively involved in the plots and characters. But I like your take on it, too!

I think you know that your friend would send you a bucketload of hugs if she could for all that help!

Anonymous said...

I like what you say about the writer being the only one who knows. It's so true. I've received feedback before where the critiquer acted like I should make all their suggested edits or the work would fail. That was so frustrating for me, and just ended in tears. I got over it, though. I think one of the most important things for us writers to own our work and be proud of it no matter what stage it's in. We're all learning and growing. I like your thoughts here, thank you!

Piedmont Writer said...

Thanks to both of your for your comments.

Revising, to me, is something I do to the draft, to get it ready for the BIG READ. Where I've finally gotten the ms. ready to go into query mode.

Editing, to me, is when I finally let my baby out of my sight and into the hands of someone capable enough of knowing how the English language works and can find the little things I've missed in revisions. Editing then becomes taking their "suggestions" and turning them into constructive thoughts.

Editing for a publisher is different however, I have to say. They expect you to take their suggestions, they are the ones in charge of selling your book and if they can't sell it what's the point. And although never having been published, I've read enough on the blogs to know that if you send out the best book you can, publisher edits are minimal.

Although as far as I'm concerned, if you send out the ms. for query, it better be the best damn book you could possibly write because in today's market, it's a dog-eat-dog world.

And from everything I've heard, even before I found the blogosphere and was living in the "real" world, you, as writer, do not have to take ALL editorial suggestions. That's what they are supposed to be, suggestions, and if someone says you need to take their critique and use it or you'll fail is a big fat HACK and is jealous of what you have written. That's my take on it anyway.

A good critiquer, as far as I'm concerned will only point out what I refer to as "grey areas", places where the story drags, or is stuck, or one of the characters is out of alignment. They will also find blatant typos's and mechanical errors such as punctuation. A good critiquer will also not read the ms. actively looking to find things wrong. If you are sending your work out to be looked at, it better be at the best possible stage you think it can be. After 47 revisions by you. A good critiquer should be able to find NOTHING wrong with your ms. but crow to you at the end of their read how freaking awesome you are as a writer.