Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rae on Editing

Hola, folks! I'm Aurora's beta editor, Rae.

I made that phrase up, just now: beta editor. I know other, better, editors will follow in my footsteps on Aurora's path to greatness. But for now it's just me. I have all the power!!!!!

(Thunderclap! Lightning!)

Editing is my love. When you hear the urban legends about career tests where you choose the things you love and then they tell you to make money doing that... exactly.

It's a funny thing to love, I'm told, but I think it comes from many, many years of reading. I see organization and language the same way an amazing photographer sees "composition" in any real-life scene, or a sculptor sees shapes and curves in any physical structure, or the way that an accountant (who really loves accounting) sees black and red (or x and y, whatever those numbers people do).

Editing is how my brain works. Some people are amazing at numbers (like that pesky accountant above) and some connect with small children. Some have an uncanny gift for the perfectly seasoned meal. For me, editing is like that. I see the written word in it's rough form and I instantly fall to wondering, musing, marinating over what it's doing, and why, and how it can do that better, more effectively.

That being said, I'll now move on... slightly.

This is not the same as personal opinion. In fact, it's quite different. Aurora (and a ton of both aspiring and successful writers) has a cadre of beta readers who offer their opinion on the work in progress (henceforth known as the WIP). These readers respond as readers should: with emotion. Their job is to connect with every character, every scene. To love, hate, laugh, cry, whatever. Effective beta readers fully immerse themselves in the WIP so they can give the most honest feedback possible. You WANT to hear, "I loved this part!" or, "this passage seriously did not do a thing for me" from your beta readers.

Editing is different. As an author, you want your editor to believe in the book, but to come at it from a distance. Whereas authors (and readers) of a WIP need to be fully immersed to be effective, an effective editor must keep some distance. Because you know what editing really is?

It's change. Revision.

And change is hard, even for fictional characters. It turns their whole lives upside-down.

If an editor were too "into" the WIP, they would fail to see (or refuse to see) the need for change. Maybe a scene is integral to the story, but is totally boring as-is. It's the editor's job to figure out how to make it pop, so that readers care about it. OR (as is much more often the case) a scene is extra - it adds nothing to the story. But, because it rests on a character readers (or author) LOVE, it would otherwise be difficult to remove.

An editor's job is to take a thing and polish. Polish. Polish. It's kind of like getting a rough-hewn Michelangelo statue and having to polish until it shines. There's no real creation. But without a fantastic editor (like myself) to work on an amazing WIP (like My Stupid Girl) there's no fabulousness. There's nothing shiny.

The moral of this story is get an editor who likes shiny things.



Tara Maya said...

Rae, that sounds terrific. Aurora is lucky to have you!

Read my books; lose ten pounds! said...

Yes, Tara. Its so true. Rae is so fantanstic.

She is goign to turn my great book into a fabulous book!