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Author Topic: Writing With an Editor?
extrinsic
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How willing and how much would you work with an editor?

The editor is able to work with a writer on project development, not just grammar and style; craft, expression, and appeal as well.

Consider that the time expended on draft writing is one-fourth total writing time and effort, roughly half the time on revision development, and one-fourth on final-passes for grammar and style revision; in other words, proofreading.

I read The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, Jack Zipes translator, Princeton University Press, 2014. Of course, I've also read other versions of the tales. The grammar is above par though inconsistent. The style and expression voice are generally tell, as befits narratives that are composed for oral transmission. Indirect discourse, summary, explanation, and lecture (tell) are the method of expression, craft, and appeal, if tell appeals.

The unsanitized-for-sensitive-readers, originally recorded versions of Grimms' kinder und Hausmärchen (children's and household tales) contains the usual and well-known folk tales: "Little Red Riding Cap [Hood]," "Rumplestiltskin," "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves," etc., as well as dozens of lesser-known tales. Symbolism in each are more or less accessible, though more so than modern revisions. Snow White, for example, is characterized as white as snow, pure and chaste; red as blood, womanly matured; and black as death, complicated by ancestor spirits. Of course, vice-virtue moral clashes are integral to the tale, and as well to each tale of the collection, as are those of similar collections like Aesop's Fables, Greek folk tales; and One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, Arabian folk tales. "Snow White" is probably the more reimagined and reinvented of the tales.

As an exercise, I reimagined several of the tales using more vivid and lively description, amplified emotional commentary and attitude, and converted indirect discourse to direct discourse, added discourse tags and used action attribution to attribute thought and dialogue (in-scene discourse), altered viewpoint from narrator to viewpoint characters. The exercise prompts for preserving concision though challenging to do. Direct discourse and scene writing mode naturally and necessarily consume more word count. Concise "tell details" minimizes word count consumption.

From this exercise, I've gained a march on revision strategies, foremost, revising for essential content and organization with an emphasis on emphasis positioning.

Anyway, the folk tales are honorable, ancient, and ripe for reimagination and reinvention by an editor-writer. Snow White has certainly been reinterpreted many times, probably the most of all folk tales. What I've done differently is imagined Snow White in an internal moral clash as well as the traditional external one with the wicked queen.

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Denevius
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quote:
How willing and how much would you work with an editor?

It depends. Many unpublished writers who haven't generated interest from publishers mostly use editors in the same way they could use the workshop experience. I think the hope is that the editor will make their writing publishable, which is almost always in vain (and a waste of money), but there it is.

But then those who are dedicated to the self-publishing side of writing *should* work with an editor, but mainly copy-editing. The constant complaint readers have is that self-published writing is riddled with spelling mistakes, typos, and grammar issues. If you're serious about self-publishing, you should pay a good copy-editor to go over the final version of your novel with a fine-tooth comb. Take and leave their advice as you see fit, but at least know what's right and what's wrong (as just from reading some of your 13 line critiques, Extrinsic, I'm not always in agreement with how a properly constructed sentence changes the flow of a sentence).

If you're a little bit further ahead in the traditional publishing world, it doesn't hurt to have an editor read your project, but ultimately, it's going to be up to the people you sell the work to to determine the best direction of the novel, and they'll have editors onboard to go through that lengthy process with you. And in the case in which I've sold a story, I'm committed 99% to the editors view of how my original vision should be shaped. This is a product, after all, that they've decided to put their resources behind.

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Grumpy old guy
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I agree with Denevius that, if you are going to self-publish pay for a good copy-editor. If you are also going for print-on-demand, get a good typesetter as well.

Apart from writing novels (under a nom de guerre) I also offer editorial services. However, these services are in the areas of structural, thematic, and plot shortcomings, not grammar, phrasing, and other soft areas of creating a finished product.

I'm your Big Picture guy you go to when your story just won't behave the way you want it to.

In my experience, self-publishers are not people I like to work with; they're sure they know better even after they admit they don't in seeking my advice. Those seeking the traditional publishing route are more receptive and far more flexible in their self-critique of their own works after a nudge or two in a direction suggested by me.

Phil.

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extrinsic
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quote:
Originally posted by Denevius:
(as just from reading some of your 13 line critiques, Extrinsic, I'm not always in agreement with how a properly constructed sentence changes the flow of a sentence).

When I offer examples for illustration, an unstated though implied first consideration is a sentence may be constructed more than one way. The default sentence syntax many writers use is a person sentence subject, a static voice predicate, and an object phrase awkwardly construed, for example, an adverbial phrase as sentence object connected to a transitive verb, which takes a prepositional phrase instead. Not too imaginatively expressed or appealing in any case.

Improper adverbial phrase example, improper sentence subject, transitive verb:

She glanced down the large hole to look for how deep it was bored into the ice.

Oh my, what a mess. Though I see similar constructions more often than not, in self-published work, and screened-for-publication work. The hole's depth is the proper sentence subject to begin with. That the hole was bored is the proper verb, not transitive "glanced," problematic in the first place because "to glance" is denotatively to strike obliquely or likewise to see obliquely: quickly and from an indirect angle. "Glanced down" taken literally evokes an image of her striking the sides while she goes down into the hole.

Also, infinitive verb "to look for" is a predicate complement, not a prepositional object phrase. Preposition "for" starts a proper object phrase, though two embedded adverb phrases turn the sentence object portion into adverbial phrases -- "how deep it was" and "was bored into the ice." Note "it was bored into the ice" is a passive voice clause, actually making the entire sentence passive voice. Preposition "into" is a proper lead into a proper object phrase.

Proper grammar, though, is a matter of expression functions. The above sentence is a normal conversational grammar sentence; therefore, suitable for speech discourse (dialogue) if apropos of the circumstances, yet a minimal guidance consideration is prose best practice emulates life, artfully reimagined life and expression, not copies life and conversation verbatim. In other words, the speaker is nonfluent; a few signals for that flavor of expression is best practice, better than portraying such a speaker as nonfluent to the point of dysfunctional illiteracy.

Prose grammar, though, is more artfully fluent and based upon reading and comprehension ease and liveliness and vividness. Numerous prepositional and adverbial phrases diminish comprehension and reading ease. Now, many readers will see no issues with that above sentence. They don't know what they don't know. They might nonconsciously have an aesthetic hunch the sentence is a little off though not be aware of why. No immediate matter; a moment of minor awkwardness passed over to get to the next sentence, reading or writing. Fluency, though, warrants reconstruction.

The most overt consideration for the sentence's revision is that it is in static voice. "Glanced" implies a momentary and finite visual action; however, "to look" is nonfinite thus static. Also, the sentence is static and tell from being an outside-looking-in perspective, a narrator summary of an action that is best practice a vivid and lively sensory description from an inside-looking-out perspective. Also, the actual boring of the hole is the action of consequence, not glancing down the hole.

Yet that sentence is a common type of opening sentence for lackluster and nonfluent prose. Folk tales emulate that kind of nonfluent expression too. Folk tale opening sentences -- oh my, what messes they are. At least their narrative points of view are for the most part settled tell voices. I won't mention occasional narrative point of view slips, personal discourse marker interjections commonly.

Everyday conversational narrative has appeals, a narrator casually conversing with readers at or about on a peer-to-peer register: equals. On the other hand, fluent prose has a conversation-like expression mode though is vivid and lively. Balancing the two is not a best practice, rather prose grammar reads and comprehends like conversational expression yet is artfully constructed.

I'd recast that above sentence if it could be salvaged; however, because the main ideas entail an action -- boring the hole, scene mode -- and a lively and vivid visual stimulus or stimuli -- a summary scene mode -- the two distinct ideas warrant at least a few hundred words to fully develop their import. I'm least inclined to write in scene-and-summary sequence modes, though. I'd rewrite the sentence into a paragraph or two as melded action, sensation, description, introspection, and emotion, with perhaps conversation, because conversation events are most appealing, substitute for expressed thought if warranted, like for a more theatrical or cinematic narrative type, and because external complication warrants characters in contentions.

On another hand, that pitiful sentence could work for run-of-the-mill narrative if the narrative point of view is an overt narrator's. Traditional narrative point of view, pre-Realism era narrative, starts with backstory-type summary lectured by a narrator. The sentence doesn't have any backstory signals though.

Added backstory signals and rewrite the sentence for fluency, again, one of perhaps many possible revision outcomes:

She peeked down the jagged hole -- how deep her crew had bored through the ice. Their augur had not quite reached into the lake water below.

The recast sentence still expresses no emotional equilibrium change, no per se routine interruption, though pendent, once the breakthrough happens, a little complication introduction though. Further revision would address emotional equilibrium change. "She" could become angry the hole is not deep enough yet, for example.

She peeked down the sloppy-sided hole -- how shallowly in an entire afternoon her cack-handed crew had bored into the ice. Their augur had not yet even reached the lake water below.

Emphatic grammatical mood mostly, and meaningfully emotionally charged, routine interruption more pendent -- she's about to blow her cool -- and about the same complication development -- that she wants to reach the water, for what purpose remains to unfold, and the cack-handed crew's slow progress is a problem. Of note, though, more word count, and arguably more fluent expression. The past perfect "hads" signal backstory that's present-time reflection, too. Furthermore, though the first clause's subject and predicate are outside-looking-in summary mode, the remainder transitions to inside-looking-out scene mode.

Perhaps a further adjustment might recast the first part so that it too is inside-looking-out scene mode. Maybe show "her" in some way imperiled by the ice hole. The edge, for example, a crumbling precipice workers negligently fractured, so that for a moment she dangerously teeters on the edge, a liminal moment, which is a foreshadowing motif too. She will teeter on an edge throughout the narrative, literally and figuratively, until she satisfies her complications, for good or ill outcomes.

[ March 18, 2015, 11:08 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Grumpy old guy
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An interesting example extrinsic, except for one thing: it doesn't read well. It's stilted and stumbling, IMHO, and instead of pulling me into a scene, it holds me at arms length.

Just an observation on a single sentence without context.

Phil.

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extrinsic
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If the sentence started with a dramatic event that involves action, teetered on the edge of a fractured ice precipice, and the clumsy crew attempts aid, event, setting, and character development provide context and texture. Also, opening-line mid-sentence interruptions aren't to general readers' tastes.

Again, I believe the sentence is generally unsalvagable though ripe for less rushed development. A paragraph or more might serve to express the two main ideas of a bored hole, related events, and the woman and crew's contentious interactions with the hole's setting and with each other.

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Robert Nowall
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Never had the opportunity---I've had some fairly intense back-and-forth work from fellow writers---but I've never actively sought out someone to do it that way with me.

(Thought it was "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," with an "f," not a "v." "Dwarves" is a Tolkien innovation on the analogy of "wharf / warves" and "hoof / hooves.")

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extrinsic
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Actually, the original Grimms' folk tale's title translation is "Little Snow White," the original German is "Sneewittchen" or sometimes "Schneeweißchen," which is for another, different Snow White tale, "Snow White and Rose Red." "Schneeweißchen und Rosenrot."

Dwarfs or dwarves are indeed conventional plurals of dwarf, dwarfs more than dwarves. "Dwarves" was popularized by Tolkien, however, apparently predates him. I suppose, proscriptively, dwarves is akin to mischievious. Middle English used a more guttural sound for the words' final consonant that became soft F in Modern English. Spellings therefore were both. Samuel Johnson's seminal eighteenth century British dictionary emphasized the soft F dwarfs. Conventional usages are weighted toward dwarfs, though dwarves is like British variant "grey," also used in addition to U.S. variant "gray."

An editor's, and writer's, best practice is to suggest and use one or the other, consistently.

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extrinsic
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The general consensus then is writers might meet a publisher's editorial correspondence expectations -- under what circumstances, not given in detail -- though also generally with some resistance, and, otherwise, generally not.

I guess the days of John W. Campbell's shaping an age and its genre and the like are long past. Maybe the time has come again to revisit that process. If at least so that a given house expresses its creative slant and processes transparently and such that writers inclined to submit to the house recognize those criteria and they appeal. The explosion of independent presses and online publications and genre crossovers could be less culturally diluting if each focused more on unique-to-a-house content and process, not to mention artistic caliber and audience targeting. From narrowed horizons arise infinite possibilities.

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Grumpy old guy
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I'm not exactly sure of what you are asking, extrinsic.

Do writers willing work with editors to improve their story? Anyone with half a brain would; the problem is, as far as I can tell, that writers are, in general, an opinionated bunch of know-it-alls who get all defensive when someone points out the obvious shortcomings of their story.

A writer can justify almost anything if it's one of their favourite bits of writing. As they say: to be a good writer means you have to kill your darlings.

Every publishing house I know of has strict guidelines on submissions; if you don't, won't, or can't be bothered following them, don't get upset when you don't get past the receptionist's rubbish bin.

That's half the problem, I think. I grew up in the me generation and those who follow on have simply increased their delusion that they're entitled to . . ..

Rubbish! Do the hard yards, comply with the rules, and pray someone reads your drivel and thinks it's a tenth as wonderful as you do. Then, maybe, just maybe, you'll get past that receptionist's waste basket.

And if you do, remember, the editor they assign to you doesn't really want to listen to all your whining and complaining about what's expected of you, just do as you're told and hope you get that big, fat advance.

Phil.

Added later:

Just in case anyone is wondering, the you mentioned above is the generic you and doesn't refer to anyone in particular.

[ March 20, 2015, 05:08 PM: Message edited by: Grumpy old guy ]

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Denevius
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quote:
I guess the days of John W. Campbell's shaping an age and its genre and the like are long past.
Maybe I missed/miss something, but I'm not sure how this line fits into the conversation.

Plenty of authors today start trends in writing. There's been a lot of Harry Potter-like books, or Twilight-like books, or now Hunger Game-like books.

Like Phil, I'm also a bit loss now at what your point was.

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extrinsic
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Campbell shaped Golden Age science fiction while editor of Astounding. Asimov, for one, credits Campbell's guidance for founding his writing career. The early Campbell, though; not the later insufferable and increasingly eccentric one.
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dkr
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Howdy folks! Member 10397 here! aka dkr -

I am fortunate in that three very good friends climbed on board my book project. One an experienced publisher, one an editor and one an artist. They have made the process so easy and totally professional. I am forever a firm believer in having a good editor. She took a fairly decent writing job and smoothed and polished it to a level I could not achieve otherwise. In the process she trimmed in the neighborhood of 3000 words from the page. Post-edit I reworked a couple of those cut sections and we slipped them back in, AFTER she edited them. The pain of it all was well worth the outcome.
(added) The running joke between us was in the half-million commas she deleted. Apparently I have a problem with commas...

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extrinsic
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Hello, dkr,

Looking forward to sampling your novel and writing.

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