Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Editiors: The Good, The Bad, And Those Who Bring Ice Cream

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an author in possession of completed manuscript, must be in want of an editor."

Okay, maybe that's not exactly how Pride and Prejudice begins, but you get the point. If you, humble author, want your work to be even moderately successful, you'd best find yourself an editor.

Now, I've worked with my fair share of editors, and let me tell you, they are not all created equally. Some are fools, some are passably competent with grammar, and some--the rare few--are worth their weight in gold.

Disclaimer: I will not name the editors, or what projects of mine they worked on. Every editor I've ever worked with (save one) truly did have my best interests at heart, even if we weren't quite compatible.

And that, my friends, is the key: compatability. If at all possible, you need to find an editor with similar tastes to yours, hopefully with a similar woking style. For instance, I'm a long sentence writer.  I'm well aware that there's nothing wrong with this, being that it's a matter of style. However, I had one memorable experience with an editor who favored short sentences, a la Hemingway.

She took out all my commas and semicolons, and made my sentences like eight words long.

Was it grammatically correct? Yes.

Did I hate it? Yes.

Did I spend the next week re-lengthening my sentences? Yes.

Was that childish? Well, no. I told her what I was doing, and she agreed that sentence length is mainly a matter of style. After reviewing the finished mss. she even confirmed that my sentence structure was grammatically sound. I, in a feat of self control that nearly caused an aneurysm, refrained from asking her why she chopped up my lovely sentences in the first place. After all, I knew the answer: style.

I've since had many more adventures in editing, including a memorable face-to-face session when I was asked, "You do know what a semicolon's for, don't you?" (I'd used one incorrectly. Perfectly reasonable question, but at the time I was speechless.)

I've also had the pleasure of working with editors I absolutely adore, mostly because they are compatible with me. Not only with my long sentences, but with my wacky, lack of a schedule lifestyle, and they don't mind the gallon of coffee I ingest every day, or the constant stories about the dog and Wonder Twins.

I've yet to get an editor to bring me ice cream, but I remain hopeful.

What are some of your editing adventures?

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