Playing Editor March 13, 2008
Suggested by John :
How about a chance to play editor-in-chief? Fill in the blanks:
__________ would have been a much better book if ______________________.
In order to answer this question, it’s important to understand what an editor actually does.. I thought I knew, but just to be sure I looked it up.
Typically, an editor does a lot of reading, obviously. Their job includes everything from looking for errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar (copy editing), to character development, plot structure and clarity (substantive editing). They also work at spotting cliched phrases, over-used words, and the overall organization of a story. Fine tuning phrases and removing redundant words can make a huge difference in the final product.
What an editor should NOT do is impose their own voice or point of view over the author’s. An editor should be like Switzerland – totally nuetral, allowing the author’s unique style to shine through, while enhancing and clarifying the text.
Ok, sounds like a tough job. I guess I’ve been reading a lot of books lately that have benefitted from great editing because I can’t think of any that I would want to change in that way.
The only exception would be some kids books I’ve been reading with my girls. We make a game out of counting the number of times the characters in the Goosebumps series “murmur” something. Seems every other page says, “Look at that!” she murmured. We dissolve into giggles and get out the notebook that we use to keep track of how many murmurs there are per book. It’s silly fun.
I remember reading Middlesex last summer and thinking that it would benefit from a liberal dose of editing, but I couldn’t give you specifics all these months later. I just remember thinking the middle section was way too long and made the book much longer than it needed to be (544 pages-pushing the limits of my patience!).
What books do you think would benefit from editing?