I am not one of these schadenfreude people. If you don’t know what this word means, perhaps you need to improve your vocabulary. I like the word-a-day websites Merriam-Webster, Wordsmith, and Wordnik.
I don’t get the shits and giggles by telling you, the writer, that you need to work on your story-telling skills. Or that your punctuation is P.U. stinky. Or that you overuse adjectives. Or that you sometimes use run-on sentences and I have trouble following the point of the sentence and the point your are trying to make by running the sentence along for a whole huge paragraph is making me all-out crazy.
I critique and edit and proofread and make loads of comments because that is my J.O.B.
I’ve heard this a dozen times from clients (former clients). Honestly, I’m a little sick of it. I think you are insulted because I’m not all “Oh, your novel is fabulous!” or “Oh, your book is wonderful!” like the rest of your inexperienced beta-readers and family members.
Writers ask for my opinion and then wave their insulted-ness wand over me like it’s going to change my opinion.
Your writing still needs work, no matter how many mommies, daddies, inexperienced beta-readers, and H.S. English teachers peruse your novel and say, “I love it.” And nothing else.
I ain’t your mommy
I know my Mom, and I know my Aunt Agnes (the two wonderful women that raised me). Read my About – they are mentioned.
If Mom and Ang were alive, they would peruse my writing and say, “You expect to sell this?” or “I wouldn’t read this past the first paragraph.” They would be critical of my grammar, punctuation, and story-telling prose.
And then Mom would probably give me a piece of cake to help me recover.
Do you want to improve your craft?
Elizabeth H. Cottrell (of Heartspoken, mentioned with permission) is the best client ever.
Elizabeth doesn’t accept every comment I make on her work. Nor should she. She asks questions about my comments. Sometimes she disagrees with me. Love it!
And she loves what I have pointed out – what’s lacking, what’s extraneous, what is unclear.
You take two years to write your novel. And then Google “editor,” send me an email, and expect me to know you. To “get you,” overnight.
Not gonna happen.
R. S. Guthrie concurs
If you are not convinced you need an editor, please see R. S. Guthrie’s Power-Wash Your Writing blog at Rob on Writing.
Even editors should have an editor
Shawn MacKenzie – editor for my poetry collection, my horror short stories, my memoir and historical short stories. Shawn is the editor’s editor.
I have spent two years commiserating, writing emails, and sharing blogs with Shawn. She “gets me.” You can’t find that in a day by Googling!
The following is from Shawn MacKenzie, editor extraordinaire!
Editors are people, too. We have our idiosyncrasies and foibles, and if you prick us, I assure you, we do bleed. Personally, I want to enjoy my work—I want to labor over prose or poetry that stirs, if not (yet) the soul, at least the imagination. Of course, if everything that crossed my desk was that good, well, frankly, I’d be fast out of work, and the state of modern literature would be cause for unremitting celebration. Not there yet.
So, yes, my meager coffers are indebted to awkward phrases and muddled plot lines, stilted dialogue and clichéd metaphors, not to mention sloppy punctuation and whiplashing points of view. But editing goes beyond the basics of grammar and punctuation, ultimately being more subjective art than objective rules and regulations. Hell, even grammar and punctuation can be tossed out the window if it serves the author’s story and voice.
This is what I try to do as an editor: to serve the author’s story and voice. I try to help them fulfill their literary vision as clearly, creatively, and uniquely as possible. My approach to an edit will not suit everyone, which is why I offer a sample of my work before taking on a new client. Making informed choices is essential for both editor and client. Up front, there are a couple of things that personally and professionally drive me frakking nuts.
1) People who present what is essentially a first draft and expect me to do all the work to fix it. I am not a collaborator or a ghost writer. I am an editor. By the time I see a manuscript, especially for a line edit, I expect it to display a degree of polish, at the very least evidence of careful attention paid and work done. Anything less is a waste of my time and a client’s money.
And the flip side of this:
2) People who are looking for a rubber stamp to their flawlessly exquisite prose. Much as we love unqualified praise for our words, that’s not my job as an editor. For one thing, I don’t believe in perfect writing—and I say that as a writer. Anyone who really thinks their work is perfect is apt to ignore all editing suggestions out of hand (as their right) and, again, waste my time and their money in the process. I will neither coddle nor eviscerate, but I will do my best to make the work better.
Shawn MacKenzie had her first Dragon encounter when she was four years old and happened upon a copy of The Dragon Green by J. Bissell-Thomas. That was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. A graduate of Bennington College, she’s a writer of sci-fi/fantasy and an editor of crossword puzzles. Her stories have been published in Southshire Pepper-Pot, 2010 Skyline Review, and as a winner of the 2010 Shires Press Award for Short Stories. Shawn is an avid student of myth, religion, philosophy, and animals, real and imaginary, great and small. Thoughts, writings, and ramblings can be found at her website, MacKenzie’s Dragon’s Nest or at her Dragon’s Nest blog.
Shawn’s other links –