Thursday, September 6, 2012

Messy Murder

Today, Mr. Stan Carey shares with us a particularly striking crash blossom which forces its discerning readers to deliberate whether a human can murder a vehicle.

"Girl found alive in France murders car"

What he points out in this post is the way sentence structuring can guide a reader through an idea by establishing the key points one at a time. In comprehensive editing, an editor will often rearrange sentences and the words in them so that the reader never feels lost or misled.

Often writers are excited about their ideas and want to put them down on the page as quickly as possible. What this can lead to is too much of an idea being expressed at once, causing confusing semantics. Like when you try explaining the dream you had last night, and you find yourself saying, "Wait, but before that happened—," and you know your audience is getting confused.

Don't worry about it. We editors take care of this all the time. Writers, keep writing what you want to write, and don't limit yourself. What the world needs is more creativity, all the time. Editors take care of the boring bits.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sweepify, sweepify.

Chad R. Allen hits it on the head with this abridged writing textbook, written for Rachelle Gardner's blog. These are thirteen writing tips that can help not only, as Allen says, "to reduce boredom among your readers", but also to kick start your reading if you're suffering from writer's block!

Mr. Allen smiles for the camera.

Do you know the story you want to tell the reader but can't figure out just how to say it best? Just write what's in your head! This isn't an exam! You can put the story's skeleton down on the paper now, then go back and flesh it out later. That's called revision, and there's no limit to how much of it you can do!

Are you afraid that you'll have too many sloppy sentences when your writing is done? That's why we editors are here! Chances are, you're going to have to go through one of us anyway before you get published, so why not just leave that work for later? Our job is to clean up your text and make it look as good as possible! Consider us the housekeepers and lawncare specialists of the house that is your book! You can live in it however you want, and we'll tidy it up for you!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Extreme Edits

Here are some great examples of the reaches of editing, brought to you by David Wanczyk of The Atlantic! Do any of my writers out there have some examples of their own edits to share in the comments?

Wearing Your Heart on Your Face

In a questionable post on The Blood-Red Pencil titled "Show Visceral Reactions First," Maryann Miller explains how to get readers more involved in your characters and thereby more involved in your story:
Start with their visceral reaction. . . . These reactions occur immediately, before any thought processes or deliberate actions, so it’s important to show your character’s visceral reaction first, to mirror reality and put your readers inside the character’s skin, feeling the fear or embarrassment or shock or anger right along with them.

Next, show an immediate thought-reaction. . . Note that these sudden, short thought-reactions are usually italicized, both for emphasis and immediacy, and to indicate a direct thought. . . .

Then go on to show the character’s other, slightly delayed reactions, such as their words, facial expressions, body language, and actions.
The problem is that writing like this for all your characters reveals only one type of character: the one who cannot hide emotions. Not that I believe Miller advocates writing exclusively like this for your character reactions (though she omitted such instruction from her post), but I would like to take this opportunity to encourage my writers to make sure their characters represent a wide range of voluntary and involuntary reactions.

In my experience, characters of deceitful or dubious nature are the ones who most often conceal their visceral reactions. If their thoughts showed on their faces all the time, plot twists would be a whole lot harder to deliver with surprise! If the character you're going for represents honesty and integrity, however, Ms. Miller's advice might be exactly what you should heed to make your audiences feel a deeper level of connection to your writing.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Hand in Hand

This post from The Blood-Red Pencil highlights the necessity for symbiosis between author and editor. First-time clients of mine often express nervousness about having their content changed. The process, however, couldn't be more of a joint work.