Monday 3 October 2011

Training an Editor.

Over the weekend I have been studying the nature of editing. My co-writer and I need a capable editor, a person who is both an ordinary reader and sensitive to the requirements of a novel. Someone who is keen to read our final draft and yet courageous enough to be open to finding faults in it. In addition this person needs to live not too far away so we can get together and talk about the book. Find out what he or she likes and does not like, what worked and what did not work for them in the book.
I was reminded of an address at the Edinburgh Festival around 1980 by Scott Berg about his biography of perhaps one of the greatest US editors, Maxwell Perkins. I had an audio file of this address which inspired me to also write biographies, but also informed me about the role of an editor.
Perkins did not hesitate to tell Scott Fitzgerald that his book The Romantic Egoist needed a new title. I doubt a book with that title would have sold as many copies as The Great Gatsby.
Max did not hesitate to tell Thomas Wolfe to take 90,000 words OUT of his first novel. Even though the 6'6" giant fought to keep every word he saw fit to write IN his book "Look Homeward Angel"
Editors have to be brave people, rather often.
Books are author's Word Children - at times it takes as long to give birth to a book as it does to grow a child to adulthood.
To take a book and help the author craft it into a better book, not only without grammatical and spelling errors, but with stronger plot, more interesting characters, and no continuity issues takes strength of character, attention to detail, a grasp of plotting and a willingness to take on what seems to be the intention of the author and craft the writing into something which achieves that intention.
I hope I have found this magical person in a friend who is a journalist and keen reader.
When our adventure romance novel Atlantia Soulmates is completed to the best of our ability - she will be given the opportunity to edit the book. 

1 comment:

  1. The editor has to be in tune with what you're doing as well, and not impose his or her own ideas on the novel.