Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Evil edits

It's all very well to write your very own masterpiece and set it aside with a happy smirk and a song in your heart at the astonishing accomplishment, but then reality sets in when the edits come around.

Oh, yes, those nasty, evil, stinky edits. They lurk, peering over your shoulder as you write with a hand over the mouth to suppress the sniggering. They'll even go to another room to ROFLOL, joke with each other and generally yuck it up with slaps on the back. And while you're typing 'The End', they've got an arm around each other and wiping away the tears of laughter. Oh, yes, they know what you've written...

Of course, their all po-faced and professional, dressed in suits with black briefcases when they turn up to do the 'revision work' on your masterpiece. With a superior glance they begin:

"Passive here, and there, and over on this page and OMG! Is that a split infinitive??" The knowing gleam in the eye appears. "WTF, noob, is this a verb conflict?"


"Oh dear, the sentence structure... and yet more passives. Tsk. Got a dangling participle here and," the edit clears its throat in an effort not to giggle, "an end of sentence preposition."

"Well, you see, it's like this..." Any explanation is brutally cut off.

"No, no, no. All this wordiness. Pithy! That's what we need, pithy, concise... succinct! BYKT. And Lord, the descriptions..."

"What's wrong with the descriptions?"

The edit glares at you. "I can't find any, BTW."

"Oh, cheap shot." You protest, but you know your descriptions aren't... well, as good as they can be. "I've done the descriptions..."

"Mm, yes, and I quote: 'white hair with a road-mapped face'. Obviously I see there's way too much information here; I can clearly imagine the character." The edit leans forward. "4tun8ly, I'm here to deal with it. Is there anything wrong with a cloud white halo of hair over a tanned, lined face with a wealth of experience stamped in each wrinkle?"

"Um, well, actually..."

"My point Ms Wanna-Be-A-Writer-Without-The-Angst, is imagery. JPEG it. Perfect imagery, matched with intriguing action and pithy - hmm, I like that word... pithy. Pith, pith, pithy - ah... where was I? Oh, right: Perfect imagery, matched with intriguing action and pithy meaningful dialogue are the basis for a good novel."

"A good novel, not a..."

"Now then: characterization." The edit sighs mournfully. "You do know what Mary-Sue-ism is, don't you?"

"Don't even go there, edit. My characters make mistakes, like anyone else, and those mistakes have real consequences."

"Yes, about those... I think less is more, in this instance. No more PMSing, o.k.?"

"Less is more? PM... Nope. I'm disagreeing with you here. Actions require consequences, not applause nor some insipid 'it was all a dream', or it wasn't as bad as first made out. People died. People were changed forever as a result of one character's bad temper. Action requires consequence."

"You forget yourself, writer. I am here to help you make this book perfect. If you want to be published, you'll listen to me. AFAICT, this needs major work, ani1 can see that."

Casually, you rise and lift the manuscript off the desk and hold it to your chest as if to protect it. "Three things, edit: one, no book is ever perfect; and two, copyeditors can do a better job at buffing the work than I ever will."

Edit scowls. "Number conflict, writer, what's the third?"

"Your abbreviations are showing."

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