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Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Joys of Editing -

So, you see yourself as an editor eh?

Then welcome to a very special, select world of those who want to be certified! - Seriously.

If you think you'd be a great editor because you love to read, think again. There's much, much more to it than that. Despite keeping busy with a number of writing projects on the go, I still love to read.
But I'd never be an editor...why?

Their main job is to make the writer's message clear, accurate and presentable. Yes, proofreading does come into it, (Looking for typo's - errors - format etc) and they are keen to ensure the five "C's" are adhered to: is it Clear; Correct; Concise; Comprehensible & Consistent...

But, unless you have ever seen or experienced the editing process..WOW! you'll get a shock.
(Now - I'm going to seriously simplify the following)
I was so relieved my first experience was on a short story.

You send off your spankingly brand new, polished and shiny work of pristine art to the publisher. You think..."Oooh, its looks wonderful!" - and it does. Flowing down the page in graceful black and white, easy on the eye, smooooothly graceful to follow...

Then you enter the editing stage...And if your'e not a computer literate technophobe - (like me) this is where you start to panic.
Your gleaming example of pride an joy comes back looking as if it's been in a cagefight! Covered - in my case - in ruby red horror!
The editor has to do their job. Make/suggest changes - improve clarity - improve impact & flow - make meaning clear and improve the 'readability' of the story. But you'd never guess that to look at your baby sitting there on your computer screen, whimpering to you for a hug!
You'll already be sweating, as you former work of art is now covered in red highlights, underlining, tabs and bubbles, giving all sorts of useful suggestions.

Okay - take a deep breath - wipe your palms - look at the next stage. Instructions!

Directions like, - Ensure "Track Changes" is on in Compatability Mode - Ensure the "Review" tab is highlighted - look for the "Accept/Reject" function... just make your palms start to sweat again.

If you've never heard of these before, you think Huh? And work your way laboriously through the tabs, to ensure you get the right things up. Okay, now what do I do?

Accept or reject the changes.
Theres a wonderful button for this, where all the pain can be miraculously wiped away. But careful... If you accept, you glorious work starts to revert to its former glory...if you reject - it stays red, if you dare to make a change - it goes blue! You feel like your abusing the one you love!
But - it's not just you that has to read it. Because you send it back!

Now what the editor has to contend with, isn't a graceful work of art in flowing easy to read black and white. What was once resting on the eyes now explodes from the page in a confusion of red (with tasteful grey undertones in some cases) suggestions, bubbles, phrases and re-written ideas, confusingly jumbled together with royal blue suggestions, phrases and re-writes from you!
(Now, as I say, I've really simplified this)

Basically - imagine trying to read a story you've REALLY been looking forward to, if its covered in confusing red and blue suggestions, corrections, underlining, lines leading to bubbles containing thoughts/ideas etc, that constantly confuse the eye & take you away from what you're trying to read.
(I was going to paste in a spoof example onto the page - but I didnt want to scare you....) If you're an aspiring writer, you've got to discover this joy for yourself.

Imagine VOLUNTEERING to submit yourself to that on a regular basis! That's why editors live in special houses with padded wallpaper and wear wonderfully tailored jackets with wraparound sleeves... nice!
So the next time you're out shopping and somebody cut's you up on the way, or you find them standing in the aisle studying the wording on a can of soup and muttering to themselves with red pen in hand, or even, if you find them hiding in the fetal position inside a freezer sucking their thumb - spare a thought, it might be my editor contending with another fine mess and they're having a bit of a stressful day.
Take care now - have a nice day Lacey :)


  1. I want to edit this post. Sincerely, an editor.

    1. Hi Rosa - hope you're feeling better soon -(seriously)- I cant wait to receive the sphagetti that was Guardian Angels... (Forgive me)
      p.s. - but you ARE mad to do it :)