Sunday, November 9, 2014

On Writing — Thank Heaven For Editors And Proof Readers, Plus Misc. Business

Bless every editor, copy editor and especially the proofreader.  What brought this up was a recent post to my blog where I not only committed the sin of putting “it’s” for “its” (I do know better), but also left a clause at the end when I had already moved it to an earlier spot in the sentence.  I’m sure there are other errors, probably some serious comma issues.

When I write novels, I send the draft through a few readers before sending it on to the publisher.  Two of my brothers read it for content, clarity, believability, character consistency and whether or not it is a good read.  I have a talented friend who does the same, but also does more detailed copyediting and proofing. To those who have heard writers say “everyone needs an editor,” believe them. It’s Gospel. Next for the manuscript is the publisher’s editor, another edit by me and still another by a professional proofreader. No doubt there is one more proof before the book goes to the printer. The published book is in pretty good shape by the time it makes its debut.  This isn’t true for what I post here. Though I do proof — sometimes I go over it more than once — there are no fresh eyes.

Since beginning this blog nearly four years ago, I have written more than 500 posts (roughly 250,000 words) without a net.  Too often it shows. Sometimes I find and correct a glitch days later.  I know other errors are living on in cyberspace in perpetuity or eternity, which ever is longer.  I apologize for my transgressions.  I know many people consider perfect grammar a requirement for a professional writer.  Those who have that ability should thank whoever or whatever they believe in for the gift or curse of meticulousness. While in a general sense of the word, I am a decent overall editor, I do not have and will not have in this lifetime the knowledge and skill it takes to excel at copy-editing and proofing. My brain, quite often, will register what ought to be there rather than what is no matter how many times I reread it.  It’s wired that way.  ”Furthermore,” quoth the Raven, as I age some of the wiring is coming loose or corroding. I ask that you forgive me for my lack of meticulosity.

To Edit Or Not To Edit: Mann and Hesse

Hermann Hesse & Thomas Mann
I’ve tried to find a source to back this up.  I didn’t.  However, if you are willing to assume the risk of my rickety memory, I once read that Thomas Mann held a kindly and respectful envy of his contemporary Hermann Hesse, whose first and final draft of his fiction flowed freely, flawlessly, and unedited from his pen.  Mann’s manuscripts, on the other hand, bled profusely with corrections and rewritten passages.  Both are Nobel Prize recipients.

How’s Your Ego Doing?  If You re A Writer, How Much Control Do You Want?

The other day I read an article by author Paul D. Marks, a Shamus Award winner (for White Heat). He talks about writing screenplays and novels and what fulfillment one might or might not expect from each. While my experience hasn’t the breadth or depth of his, I have a similar view based on the limited exposure I’ve had with plays and novels. Plays and screenplays must, by definition, be joint efforts. There are actors and directors and, in the case of film, a stream of rewriters as well as cinematographers, costume designers, lighting designers and set decorators, all inserting layer upon layer of influence never imagined by the original writer.  Only in the case of novel writing can the original creator claim any serious ownership.  He or she must only share the work’s interpretation with the reader. I like that concept.


Teri-on-the-sandbar said...

Insightful, as always. Thank the gods and goddesses we had Diana, Patti, each other, and a handful of others when we all worked together. Given the volume of words we spewed, I hate to think how embarrassing the errors might have been had we not put egos aside and welcomed input from each other.

Ronald Tierney said...

You are among the goddesses. I remember once your catching the potential for insult when I referred to a "dense population." I meant crowded. But it could easily have been interpreted in another way.