Editing the New Me
In my last post I talked about how I planned to go back to school to finish my BA in English because I’ve decided I’d like to be a book editor along with being a writer. This is all part of the new me that is developing. I’ll talk about some of my other changes in future posts but today I want to talk about editing and why I want to do it.
What is editing? This post over at HuffPo by David Kudler sums things up pretty well. The part that best explains is this:
- Developmental editors work with the author to craft the manuscript, looking at structure and argument in non-fiction or plot and character in fiction. (In traditional publishing, these are usually the acquiring editors.)
- Line or substantive editors also look at the manuscript as a whole, but generally don’t work as closely with the author and aren’t expected to edit as deeply. (This and the previous category are sometimes lumped together as substantive editing.)
- Copy editors concentrate on the language or copy. They focus on trying to make the style of the manuscript clean and consistent.
- Proofreaders are usually the last folks who look at a book, in galley or proof form, as it’s about to go off to be printed (or, in the case of ebooks, as it’s about to enter distribution). They’re looking purely for misspellings or errors in style, such as improper punctuation, grammar or formatting.
There are many different kinds of editors and each work a certain way. I’d like to be a developmental editor and/or a line editor. I’d probably end up doing both–substantive, as it’s called in the article.
Early this year I made a friend, Sarah from A Place That Does Not Exist. Actually we met at livejournal in a writing challenge community that I co-owned.* I saw a post about her novel she was working on asking for concrit so I checked it out. After reading her first chapter I just got this feeling in me. It’s hard to explain but I felt bold which is very unlike me (because of my social anxiety issues I’m very timid around new people). She asked for real concrit; tear it apart she said. And so I did.
I could see the potential in the plot. I could picture the characters. I could see what was wrong with the scene. The things just jumped out at me. So I left her a bunch of long comments asking a zillion questions about the plot and things that were confusing. I noted how her world-building needed improvement and she needed more details.
I was really worried she’d get upset at my sometimes harsh (although I did it politely and with much encouragement) comments. But she didn’t. I now count Sarah as my best friend and I love helping her with her novel. When a mutual friend of ours had a part of her novel looked at by a professional editor he said many of the same things I said to Sarah and both of them admit they have very similar writing styles and weaknesses. I was emboldened by that. If I was saying the same things a professional was saying then maybe I really was good at editing (Sarah swears I am).
Recently I remembered signing up for this site called Critique Circle. It’s a place for writers to submit their work and have others critique it and constructive criticism. I never participated because you have to earn the right to submit by giving critiques and at the time I was too timid to write anything. The other day I found a similar site, Scribophile, that operates pretty much the same way. They each have groups and forums and such but their critique windows are slightly different. Both have really nice people there (like me) and I highly suggest them to anyone that needs help on their writing or wants to hone up on some critiquing skills.
Since finding/remembering these sites I’ve stayed up way too late reading and giving advice to writers. I’ve had very good responses back from them which makes me all squee inside. On my first critique at Scribophile (my first one ever) I mentioned I was new at this but wanted to be an editor so it was good practice. The guy wrote back that I was well on my way and my remarks were very helpful and insightful. Not sure how honest he was being but it made me feel like I’ve really found my path.
The funny thing is: in school (grade school, high school and college) I HATED when we had to edit/critique other kids’ writing. I never knew what to say and didn’t want to upset anyone. Obviously I still had those feelings until I met Sarah earlier this year. Now editing is in my blood. I’ve known for a long time that when I read I automatically correct grammar, punctuation and word usage in whatever I’m reading. Those errors just jump out at me. They make me cringe. I’ll also substitute my own sentences when I feel the written ones could have been stated in a better way or they seemed wrong to me. Maybe that should have told me something.
Of course, now, I’ve run into some issues. Most precisely, time issues. November is NaNoWriMo and I have a 50k novel to write before the end of the month. I’ve got a pile of library books that I need to read and review, netgalley books needing to be read and reviewed, and now I’m adding reading and critiquing on those two sites I mentioned. Come December I’ll be editing my own novel and in January I’ll be starting classes (fingers crossed).
But for the first time in my life I feel I can handle it. With actual support from my family and friends online, I know I can do this.
In conclusion, I want to be an editor. And a novelist (who will need an editor that isn’t me). Also if you are on scribophile or critique circle look me up (the links lead to my profile pages on either site). If you want me to look at something you wrote leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you (I’m so not good at this self-promoting stuff).
I love this video from iCarly. You’ll get why I posted it towards the middle. It’s pretty funny so I suggest watching it even if you don’t know what iCarly is or don’t like the show.
* (If you are on livejournal look up writerverse for fun challenges in creative writing. I no longer own the comm but have passed it along into capable and enthusiastic hands. You can join at any time and only need to commit to participating once every two weeks. It’s loads of fun.)