September 25, 2013
The Privilege of Editing - Bobbi Junior
As a non-fiction writer, I never put on an editor's hat when I read fiction.
All that changed last month when a dear friend sent a request via e-mail. "I plan to publish "Charlotte's Rescue" in October. Everyone here has seen so much of it. I need fresh eyes. Do you have the time to read through, check for flow, grammar, all of that?"
Two days later the manuscript sailed through cyber-space and landed at my inbox. Looking at my busy schedule, I carefully carved out time to work through her book, thinking I was doing my friend a favour.
I soon realized the opposite was true.
My friend isn't a seasoned, polished writer, but she has a wonderful, folksy voice, and people love her work. My first challenge was to respect her voice and resist the temptation to mould it into my own.
My friend writes fiction, something I've never tackled. As the story progressed I discovered how intricate the plot, the details, the character development, the facts or lack of facts have to be to create a good read - something I'd never appreciated before.
I learned that when editing it's important to pull out and highlight the strengths. How would my friend know what resonates, what's effective, if I didn't tell her? When something made me laugh, or caught me off guard, or touched my heart, I noted it.
I learned how important threads of information are; how they need to be drawn subtly from one chapter to the next, so the reader isn't left wondering, "Where did this come from? Did I read something about that way back at the beginning?"
I learned that grammar, while much more flexible these days, still matters if you want the reader to move forward effortlessly. An awkward sentence or turn of phrase bogs down, causing the reader to go back, re-read, and lose the atmosphere or mood that was being built.
In the end, I gained much more than I gave.
If you're ever offered the opportunity to edit someone else's work, jump at it. Yes, it can be time consuming, but the education is invaluable!
photo credit: found_drama via photopin cc