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Editing by Authors

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

I'm involved with editing for a fellow author. I only started because we had so much trouble finding editors for squick material ("MM", not poop or watersports). However, I've noticed a few things which might help others.

I'm learning a tremendous amount by concentrating on editing others writings. I've got to admit, I make more red marks than any volunteer editor I've ever used (but still much less than my single professional editor made in my own work). It's especially surprising since I rarely make that many substantial changes in my own stories.

Just as there are different types of editors: content editors for the heavy lifting, proofreaders for typos and beta-readers for reader impressions, having a fellow author review your work allows them to focus on the storytelling specifics, rather than the rules of grammar or proper English. When I edit someone else's work, I concentrate on what works, and how they can convey the same information more efficiently (more impact, less verbiage and of course, more showing and less telling). I know, I know, given the length of this message, you can't imagine my making anything shorter, but I've learned to cut my writing down substantially over time.

Unfortunately, while I fill the page with red marks, it also takes an inordinate amount of time (since I also tack on dozens of comments to explain what I'm doing). For those of us already working on multiple stories, it's hard to dedicate that much time, or to do it in a timely basis.

That's why most authors limit their volunteer editing efforts.

When I started, both Switch and Ernest took me under their wings, not only pointing me in right direction concerning my writing, but also explaining about which tools I should use, and how to be more productive.

They both quit after only a couple chapters, but that effort was invaluable, as it saved me valuable time learning those details on my own, and I internalized much of their advice. In my own case, I'm hoping the author I'm helping will pick up what I'm trying to convey about writing effectiveness (saying more with less), so his future stories will take less editing in the end. But for now, I hate cutting him loose mid-story (he'd already finished the revision process, so he was unlikely to rewrite the story).

That's a very long-winded summary to a basic appeal for more authors to volunteer to edit for other authors, especially newbies who need guidance on a number of fronts. We may not know which rules of English we're violating, but we do recognize which approach makes for easier reading.

I'd also like to suggest developing local author groups. I'm not suggesting finding other authors who live nearby, as I've found there's little that autobiographical or non-fiction authors can do for novelists over coffee, but instead, each author should find other SOL authors who write similar works. That way, if you run into story issues, you can ask a 'friend' to look it over for you, and give you a different alternative for how to resolve the issue. I had this relationship with an author when I first started, unfortunately after he died of cancer, I never cultivated new writing support groups (beyond the normal author/editor relationships).

That said: if anyone is starting out and unsure what they're doing, drop me a line. I'll help get you started, at least. What's more, if you're writing something that others aren't volunteering for, again drop me a line. I won't be able to volunteer for long, but we authors can often get you over a hump and fill-in for each other when a stories subject matter isolates us (since, as authors, we're focused on the story, rather than the subject matter).

Anyway, sorry to rant, but I thought this was a worthwhile subject to broach. Here's hoping a few more experience authors volunteer to nurse new talent along. (Which isn't to suggest we replace the need for editors, since we're offering an alternative form of editing!)

Any thoughts?

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer


They both quit after only a couple chapters, but that effort was invaluable, as it saved me valuable time learning those details on my own, and I internalized much of their advice.


Which was our aim at the time. Editing takes up a lot of time to do right. I don't mind helping a little to get someone going in the right direction, or with a story I find interesting, but I just can't do regular editing as well as writing. One of my editors used to be a writer, but now only edits. He finds it takes up more time that writing did, but he's no longer able to put in the extra mental effort writing takes, but can sustain the lower level for editing in short bursts. Which I found an interesting statement by him.

I second CW's call, we do need more editors, even if they can't do the full range of tasks and only do proof reading, they are useful to those they help.

richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

I think you are a really nice guy and if more writers did what you suggest we would get more good stories, even if the authors in the "editor" position might write a little less often.

In construction (of buildings) I have read of speed, quality and low cost you can have at most two. Low cost is not an issue for stories on SOL except to become a Premier member. So if a friendly author helps another to increase the quality and perhaps the speed in which the new writer's stories get posted that is a net gain to all the readers on the site. The cost, of course, would be possibly slower posting of the "editor" author's new stories.

On balance it would probably be an overall improvement for readers. And the friendly author should be happy knowing he did good.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@richardshagrin


On balance it would probably be an overall improvement for readers. And the friendly author should be happy knowing he did good.

We also build lasting relationships between authors, who we can then lean on when needed. What's more, it builds the SOL author community, helping everyone here. Unfortunately, ASSTR has nothing comparable, and most other amateur author community have even less support than that!

Edit: I'm really not such a nice guy. I was pressure into it when someone I've been tutoring for some time was struggling to find editors to volunteer. It was only once I started that I realized how essential it was, despite my own early support.

Sometimes, we simply don't understand how essential something is to both the recipient and the volunteer until we put ourselves out.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Switch Blayde

@richardshagrin

if more writers did what you suggest we would get more good stories


Assuming the authors are open-minded and willing to accept suggestions. I'm saying that because of the opposition I've found on this forum.

I've actually helped teenage writers on wattpad. Although they're more sensitive (being a teenager) they are more open-minded and willing to learn. (LOL I guess that's the difference between being in your formidable years and stuck-in-your-old-ways years.)

awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

I've allowed myself get suckered into editing a story for a real-life friend, and I have to admit my reappearance on this forum is my way of taking much-needed breaks. My biggest problem is that the author's style is very lyrical and poetic, almost the exact opposite of mine, and I really don't want to compromise the work.

The finished story is for entry in a competition and I'm pretty sure the organisers are going to choose it for publication even if it doesn't win.

No pressure then!

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

I've noticed that technical feedback sent to writers on SOL is more frequently ignored by more established authors. Not all, of course - some excellent writers are very grateful to have greengrocer's apostrophes etc pointed out.

AJ

Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

I've noticed that technical feedback sent to writers on SOL is more frequently ignored by more established authors.


I know I'm not the only one, and there are many who don't agree, but I welcome all feedback on the stories. Often it points out an area where I've made a mistake or need to clarify something better, both these issues have decreased over the years, but haven't vanished.

I have had some people provide feedback that was at odds with the story, and I've replied explaining my point - the most common being the differences between US spelling and UK spelling, and the next most common being the differences between Formal English and Vernacular English. However, there have been a couple about differences in training for specialist activities, such as radio operator protocols and the phonetic alphabet.

The ones that I repsond to but don't act on are those who want the story to go in another direction to what it did.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


Assuming the authors are open-minded and willing to accept suggestions. I'm saying that because of the opposition I've found on this forum.

Actually, that was my experience too. Since I took this author under my wing, guiding him in publishing his first book, I tried editing his work previously, but he responded badly, so I stayed well away, not even daring to read much of his writing for fear I'd be tempted to comment on it.

It wasn't until recently, when he couldn't find another editor that I suggested editing each others work. I avoided marking much, but be responded much better this time, so with each chapter, I started marking more and more, and he ate it up.

Editing is tricky. Just like when you provide feedback and corrections, you've got to massage egos, only giving a couple corrections until you determine how receptive people are. As most editors will tell you, often it's a matter of learning their individual styles and which suggestions work and which don't. If an author is not receptive, then you just say "Sorry, but I don't think this is working" and step aside.

Older authors are more afraid of someone interjecting their opinions in their work, while younger people are more used to teachers/professors making corrections, so it's a more natural fit.

@awnlee

I've allowed myself get suckered into editing a story for a real-life friend, and I have to admit my reappearance on this forum is my way of taking much-needed breaks. My biggest problem is that the author's style is very lyrical and poetic, almost the exact opposite of mine, and I really don't want to compromise the work.

Doing favors for friends, like loaning money, is almost always a mistake. With a working relationship between authors with similar tastes, you've got a bit more leeway. It's easier to back out, saying either "this isn't a good fit", or "I'm not sure I'd help the story". Either is an acceptable excuse for both parties, whereas it wouldn't with a close friend, who might not accept criticism from a close friend.

In either case, I'm glad it worked out, but yours is another case where it's better to only edit a few chapters and then step back, allowing the author to either adopt your lessons or abandon them. But since the opening chapters is what traditionally sells most books, even editing a single chapter can make a substantial difference in a book, even if they don't integrate your lessons.

P.S. I'm the opposite. I'm more of a 'tell' writer who's never studied to be a poet, thus I'd love to work with someone who's studied the flow and mix of words, since that's one of my many weaknesses.

I've noticed that technical feedback sent to writers on SOL is more frequently ignored by more established authors. Not all, of course - some excellent writers are very grateful to have greengrocer's apostrophes etc pointed out.

That may not be reluctance, as much as they're unsure how to fit changes into an existing book (either they're not sure how extensive the changes would be, or it might screw up an already established balance in the story). I find myself resisting a lot of suggestions that, once I investigate the story, find it's nowhere near as difficult to incorporate as I imagined.

Next time, make the suggestion, then give the author time to either absorb it or reject it outright. And always, if they're not receptive, pull back so you don't unintentionally offend. As in my first example, many times, someone will be more receptive sometime in the future.

Writers, like spouses, are more receptive to suggestions on good days rather than bad.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer


Older authors are more afraid of someone interjecting their opinions in their work, while younger people are more used to teachers/professors making corrections, so it's a more natural fit.


And thus, you've hit one of the pitfalls of editing for someone not yet used to working with an editor. I usually limit my editing to marking where they have technical issues, and areas where it needs clarification or expansion. The one thing to avoid, unless asked to look at, is providing advice where the story should go - where they ask for help like that I give it, but it's an area where you'll get into trouble if given without being asked for it. Even when asked for it, you can have issues.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

The one thing to avoid, unless asked to look at, is providing advice where the story should go - where they ask for help like that I give it, but it's an area where you'll get into trouble if given without being asked for it. Even when asked for it, you can have issues.

So far, I've avoid that. While I dislike some directions the story is going, since I can't edit where I see the story going, I simply focus on making the existing text more efficient (cutting out the obvious that doesn't need repeating, or fleshing out summary statements that are better being included in the story).

If I have more general suggestions, I suggest them, but phrase them so it's only a suggestion and not an edit (i.e. "You might try ...").

Switch Blayde

There's another editor problem. I ran into it with a published author who does structural editing. She reviewed part of my novel and said my characters were unrealistic.

She said a cop cannot be a hero if he murders people. I pointed out "Death Wish" and others, even the ending of the "Jack Reacher" movie where Jack Reacher kills the Russian in cold blood. She ignored those because she didn't agree with the premise of the good guy vigilante.

She was the wrong editor for that kind of story. And when you disagree with her, or explain why the character is the way he is, you're wrong because you're "defensive." In her mind, the author should thank the editor and make the change.

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

She was the wrong editor for that kind of story.

Tell her to go read the real life history of Sergeant Alvin York. And she pick a few other US military heroes who are know for being totally callus towards the lives of others, and willing threw away thousands of lives to do what they wanted to do.

Replies:   Dominions Son
The Slim Rhino

@awnlee jawking

I've noticed that technical feedback sent to writers on SOL is more frequently ignored by more established authors. Not all, of course - some excellent writers are very grateful to have greengrocer's apostrophes etc pointed out.

AJ


That sort of feedback can be counterproductive if not done in a sensible way. Since I'm not a native English speaker, pointing out mistakes is of course a big help. But at one time I had a reader, who found nine mistakes in a chapter. He sent me nine emails, each with one mistake in it. That became annoying quite quickly, especially as I rely on email for feedback, not the scores.

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

Tell her to go read the real life history of Sergeant Alvin York.


Or just go read the Guardian piece listing all the people US cops killed last year.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde


She said a cop cannot be a hero if he murders people.


A structural editor is supposed to take an overall look at how everything pulls together. By dismissing something on principle without considering whether it actually works in practice, she's actually bringing her own expertise into question.

If an author wants a murdering cop to be a hero, then sympathetic writing can make that happen. Another example is the TV series Dexter.

AJ

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

A structural editor is supposed to take an overall look at how everything pulls together. By dismissing something on principle without considering whether it actually works in practice, she's actually bringing her own expertise into question.


Part of a structural editor's job is to find plot holes AND determine if the characters are believable. Her problem was she had biases. In her mind, a cop (or maybe anyone) cannot be a hero if he's killing people. It didn't matter that the theme of the novel is revenge and he's killing the men who raped his little sister and put her in a coma. The cop's guilt drove him to act the way he did.

Her views were the same with the other hero. She said he was an asshole. He was in the beginning because he was consumed with revenge and that revenge drove his actions. The reader is supposed to hate him in the beginning, but then learn to love him. My Beta reader, a girl, did just that because she read the whole novel.

The point is, this editor would not be my target audience so, unless she could separate her biases from her editing, she'd be a bad structural editor. She wanted me to change the characters to reflect how SHE wanted them to be. Anything else was unrealistic.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

Or just go read the Guardian piece listing all the people US cops killed last year.


Why would those cops be heroes?

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


Why would those cops be heroes?


I don't consider them heroes, but many in the US do, even when they kill unarmed innocents. Basically, far too many people take the attitude that all cops are automatically heroes.

It's part of what makes it so hard to impose any real accountability or discipline on bad cops.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


Part of a structural editor's job is to find plot holes AND determine if the characters are believable. Her problem was she had biases. In her mind, a cop (or maybe anyone) cannot be a hero if he's killing people. It didn't matter that the theme of the novel is revenge and he's killing the men who raped his little sister and put her in a coma. The cop's guilt drove him to act the way he did.


To be fair--without knowing the editor or what she intended--a structural editor's job is to point out plot holes. While her insistence was misguided, I'll assume her point was that you had a plot hole (readers' acceptance of the bad buy cop) and you should should have used that opportunity to review the character.

You may not have fleshed him out sufficiently, or provided enough motivation for the character, so it isn't that bad cops aren't allowed, but that your character simply wasn't believable as written.

Of course, half of editing is knowing how to express ideas to authors, so they don't go off half-cocked. Her insistence that you couldn't have such a character instead guaranteed that you'd completely ignore her advice--which is the downside of non-political deliveries.

Normally, when my editors point out issues, I'll state what I was trying to do, expecting my editors will either say "Oh, OK" or they'll argue their case, explaining further what the basic problem is. Good editors need to be willing to argue their case, often rephrasing the same point over and over until the author eventually gets the point.

I know, that sounds extremely onerous, but it's a necessary piece of the author/editor process, as we authors often don't get the point of editor objections.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


While her insistence was misguided, I'll assume her point was that you had a plot hole (readers' acceptance of the bad buy cop) and you should should have used that opportunity to review the character.


She never read any part of the novel that contained the cop. I ran the 1st couple of chapters by her (most of which ended up being deleted by what she said and others said). And she read a long chapter which also didn't include the cop.

But we discussed the plot and characters. It wasn't that she didn't think I developed the cop character -- she refused to believe anyone who commits murder can be a hero (as in hero/heroine romance).

A similar thing happened with a traditional publisher. Their editor wanted me to change the wife to a fiance. Why? Simply because adultery isn't acceptable in the romance genre and if the woman wasn't married it wasn't adultery. That's when I decided to self-publish. I didn't want to be constrained by what the publisher thinks readers want.

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

It wasn't that she didn't think I developed the cop character -- she refused to believe anyone who commits murder can be a hero


And of course, a cop can't be a villain.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

She never read any part of the novel that contained the cop. I ran the 1st couple of chapters by her (most of which ended up being deleted by what she said and others said). And she read a long chapter which also didn't include the cop.

Yeah, she was a bad fit, but it sounds like she was parroting the official company line about romance publishers not allowing that topic, rather than offering serious editorial judgement.

The romance genre is a strange beast. Essentially, everything is now considered a romance, with "romantic sci-fi", "romance apocalyptic" and "romance mysteries". I've seen one publishing group claiming that "Romance" accounts for 97% of ALL books published! So it's hard to know what's based on actual fact (i.e. readers simply won't purchase such books) and what's based on tradition ("That not my idea of a romance story!").

Just to beat a dead horsey, how did the book sell (aside from SOL downloads, since they're distinctly separate markets--one largely male and one primarily female)?

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Dominions Son


And of course, a cop can't be a villain.


Of course, if you change the race of the characters, making the protagonist black, you'd find almost universal acceptance of the plotline.

I hate to be racially insensitive, but whites primarily live in a land of Pollyannaish make believe, ignoring what's happening all around them.

For a long time, you couldn't publish anything without a happy ending, or sex stories where the women suffer horribly by the end.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Of course, if you change the race of the characters, making the protagonist black, you'd find almost universal acceptance of the plotline.


I'm not talking about publishing industry views, but more generally about the US public. I know a lot of people who think cop=hero, including at least one who is fairly racist generally, but put a black man in a police uniform and he's a hero.

richardshagrin

@Switch Blayde

Simply because adultery isn't acceptable in the romance genre and if the woman wasn't married it wasn't adultery.


So why do they insist female characters be at least 18? If she isn't an adult, how can it be adultery?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@richardshagrin


So why do they insist female characters be at least 18? If she isn't an adult, how can it be adultery?


Cause, many, many, moons ago some power hungry persons with the job title of Pope declared that any form of sex between anyone except a married couple is adultery - despite any dictionary meaning of the word and no scriptural support for his position.

edit to add: he put no age limit on it, and it was a time when there was no age of consent.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Cause, many, many, moons ago some power hungry persons with the job title of Pope declared that any form of sex between anyone except a married couple is adultery - despite any dictionary meaning of the word and no scriptural support for his position.

Please, after the other discussion about religion, let's avoid the rant provocations, please.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Please, after the other discussion about religion, let's avoid the rant provocations, please.


Sorry, CW, he asked and I provided the relevant historical fact on the attitude shown.

edit to add the words after 'fact'

graybyrd

It can be a struggle to stay on topic, for sure. When someone tosses in a race grenade, a political bomb, or a religious rant, it might be a very good thing to just let it lie unremarked.

Re: one author editing another author. A polite, personal email expressing interest in a new author's story, with a gentle suggestion or two can open a rewarding relationship.

If the suggestion is rebuffed, fine. No time wasted; no loss. If the suggestion gets a thoughtful or questioning response, we're off to the races.

Respect on both sides is essential. A sense of humor/humour helps. (That's for you, DE)

What's especially rewarding is to see a new author's skill grow, the story improve, and a sudden and steady increase in reader scoring. That's sufficient reward in itself.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@graybyrd

What's especially rewarding is to see a new author's skill grow, the story improve, and a sudden and steady increase in reader scoring. That's sufficient reward in itself.

That's also a top-down approach, with established authors reaching out to newbie authors they already recognize and appreciate their existing skill.

I was thinking bottom-up, where newbie authors, needing assistance and directions, reach out for guidance.

Typically, when that happens, I recommend they provide at least a story summary, so the authors can decide for themselves whether the story/writing/storytelling approach is something they can relate to and help with (rather than arguing about).

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd
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@Crumbly Writer


Typically, when that happens, I recommend they provide at least a story summary, so the authors can decide for themselves...is somthing they can relate to and help with...


This sounds like you're the broker, passing out prospects for other authors to edit & mentor? What group might that be? And what's to argue about?

As the Borg said, 'resistance is futile' Argument defeats any attempt at collaboration or mentoring. Explanation & consultation is good. Argument, not so good.

We Americans are reflexively conditioned to dispute and argue about every damned thing; we've lost the skills needed to work together towards a common goal.

I'd rather do the 'reaching out' because I'll have read and considered the new author's work and style. Its difficult to get a 'cold call' and then feel under pressure to give an appropriate response which, too often, is likely to be "not in a thousand years would I touch this!"

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@graybyrd

I'd rather do the 'reaching out' because I'll have read and considered the new author's work and style. Its difficult to get a 'cold call' and then feel under pressure to give an appropriate response which, too often, is likely to be "not in a thousand years would I touch this!"

I understand your point. But ... established writers will normally only reach out to those who don't require that much assistance, since they already know what the hell they're doing. My 'bottom-up' approach allows newbies to reach out for assistance. Providing a story summary is a way to attract more feedback, as well as a way for authors to sidestep the more problematic collaborations (i.e. where the writing differs markedly from their own).

A classic example is someone volunteering to edit, and then lecturing the author that what they're doing (like writing in 3rd person or their subject matter) isn't a legitimate option.

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


established writers will normally only reach out to those who don't require that much assistance, since they already know what the hell they're doing.


Hmmm. That hasn't been my experience. But I'll not claim to be a) established, or b) typical. Anyway, the appeal of the new author's work vs. the obvious thrashing about, can trigger an urge to help.

and then lecturing the author that what they're doing


No... not good. Better to provide a few examples. Take an awkward phrase, rewrite it two or three different ways & explain the reason behind each.

Hell, there's many right ways and no wrong ways, really, except for bad execution.

An editor's approach must consider the author's experience; whispers and apples invoke a better response than shouts and a horsewhip. Usually. But a mule requires a good smack with a two-by-four between the eyes to get its attention. That's figuratively speaking for the mule; and literally speaking for an ego-bound author.

So... where's this proposed watering hole for an authors' editing roundup?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@graybyrd

So... where's this proposed watering hole for an authors' editing roundup?

For now, your solution about the experienced authors reaching out to the newbies is the best approach--mostly because the old way, of maintaining a catalog of volunteer editors, has proven useless as most of the editors there are no longer on the site.

We need a new system, where newbies can reach out to other writers when they're ready to accept advice. The key, is finding a way to find similar voices. It makes no sense matching sci-fi authors to autobiographical, or historical fantasy authors, nor matching 1st person present tense authors to 3rd person past tense authors, because they'll end up fighting over technique, instead of helping the author find their own voice. So one partner needs a way to read the others word and evaluate whether they're a good match or not.

The problem is, most authors need the help BEFORE they start posting online! That's why I keep repeating my plea to newbie authors to include a basic story description, and to spend the time to perfect the description before diving into the story. Without it, few will want to take a risk on an unknown story. The description shows 1) that the author can write, 2) that they can edit their own material, 3) provides a sample of their writing and 4) gives a summary of what the story is about and what they're tying to say in the story (the essential conflicts in the story).

Frankly, I can't think of any meaningful way of connecting established authors with newbies that isn't entirely random (i.e. someone happens to read something written by someone else).

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Frankly, I can't think of any meaningful way of connecting established authors with newbies that isn't entirely random


Your points are valid; and I agree about the volunteer editors' list. I never did want to use it myself, for fear of what might pop out of it.

But ... maybe a list where authors (new & old) can post a request? And it would be good (although many will dispute this) if a chapter or two of a new story was posted, for review.

If I found it to my taste, and saw that it could use some help, I'd then contact the writer and offer some suggestions. Knowing that he/she were open to helpful criticism and editing is a big step forward. Like a welcome mat on the front steps.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@graybyrd


But ... maybe a list where authors (new & old) can post a request? And it would be good (although many will dispute this) if a chapter or two of a new story was posted, for review.


Maybe we should submit another request to Lazeez, stating that the current 'Find an Editor' page is outdated and no longer working. I'd suggest requesting a potential code list (so everyone can avoid squicks) and a story description to accompany each request (for the reasons previously specified), rather than require an author to expose his unedited work where someone else might steal his ideas (I doubt this would happen, but authors are notoriously reluctant to reveal what their stories are about).

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

That sounds pretty convoluted, in that it requires the code list and story description, along with a request for an editor? All to revise the "Find an Editor" page? I wonder ...

Wouldn't it be easier to winnow the prospect field a bit by doing as we do now, with a new author posting the first chapter or two as a new story... AND having the "Find an Editor" page modified to list the new author's request for a volunteer editor to review their new story, perhaps to edit and make suggestions?

This doesn't quite solve the potential of a terminally-weird editor popping in, but it does at least give the prospective editor opportunity to see what they're jumping into.

And now I'm thinking about it again, the volunteer editor's response to the already-posted chapter(s) will quickly reveal whether its helpful or not to the new author.

Just brain-storming here ... nothing in concrete.

Dominions Son

@graybyrd

That sounds pretty convoluted, in that it requires the code list and story description, along with a request for an editor? All to revise the "Find an Editor" page? I wonder ...


A lot of editors on the volunteer editor page list their squicks now. That's not as big a change as you suggest.

Replies:   Lugh
Crumbly Writer

@graybyrd

Wouldn't it be easier to winnow the prospect field a bit by doing as we do now, with a new author posting the first chapter or two as a new story... AND having the "Find an Editor" page modified to list the new author's request for a volunteer editor to review their new story, perhaps to edit and make suggestions?

This doesn't quite solve the potential of a terminally-weird editor popping in, but it does at least give the prospective editor opportunity to see what they're jumping into.

The problem, as I see it, is that your suggestion doesn't improve on the current state of affairs, where everyone ignores the current "Find an Editor" page, experienced authors reach out to newbie authors they think have potential, and newbie authors continue to post error-filled stories until they accumulate enough temporary editors to carry them through the process (i.e. the people who enjoy the story volunteer, while those writing less-popular stories get ignored).

I can picture a situation where do-over stories, teenage angst and post-apocalyptic stories get all the assistance, and the harder to construct stories, or those written by minorities, languish in obscurity.

In your scenario, nothing at all changes from the current situation, and all the current problems continue unabated. Sure, it's easier to implement, but so is doing nothing and letting things continue as they are--the end result should be the same either way.

My solution adds the initial suggestions the author need to continue--but doesn't know they need. By listing what they need to list upfront (story codes, story genre and story description), it's easier for the newbie author with problems with the language to reach out to a like-minded editor, rather than all the attention going to those who already know what they're doing.

As usual, neither option is ideal, but I can see a few more people getting some help in mine.

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd

@Crumbly Writer

Good ... go for yours.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@graybyrd

I'll submit a suggestion to Lazeez, but it would need to be reinforced in the site's pages to work. I was simply looking for which approach had the most universal support (i.e. neither one).

However, we could also try an 'unofficial' sub-forum where authors simply post requests.

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd

@Crumbly Writer

Maybe a "pointer" from the 'Posting Guidelines' or some such, by Lazeez, to this Editors/Reviewers Hangout. So a new author could join the melee in here and maybe ask for an editor/mentor/guide?

Of course, that would preclude our usual wolf-pack behavior of piling on and tearing him/her to shreds...

Lugh

@Dominions Son

I just sent out some editor requests. Sadly, I didn't get automatic copies of the request, so lost what I felt was well-crafted flagging of possible squicks.

For example, I said that while no MM's would go into a closet and do it with one another, I would not preclude MM play as part of an MxFy group, where x and y are integers. I would not preclude M with M2F transitioning people who identify as female. There could be snowballing and sloppy seconds.

Several editor volunteers did add interesting interests of theirs, ranging from W.E.B. Griffin to mechanical engineering, and I commented on relevance.

I know some of the areas where semi-copy editing helped me, from professional editors for my nonfiction books: duplication of cut-and-paste content. Very close to that here is wandering between first and third person.

There are also cases where I want to brainstorm a story idea, and, in a couple of stories, how to end them. Perhaps that's worth it's own thread -- how to end.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


Assuming the authors are open-minded and willing to accept suggestions.


I've learned the value of negotiating with authors before agreeing to edit a story.

I may ask if they will be 'open-minded and willing to accept suggestions'. I'm actually trying to confirm they have standards for the writing they want to achieve and are they're willing to invest some effort to achieve them.

If yes, I'm willing to devote a lot of effort to helping them achieve those standards. If not, I don't really want to be endlessly correcting the same types of mistakes by the same author.

My carrots when suggesting authors learn to self-edit are:

(a) You will ultimately save yourself a lot of time if you have a low error rate when writing your first draft, or at least after your first revision; and

(b) If your writing has few blatant errors and your language is already tight, other editors who can help your story telling will become much more willing to help you with those things.

I tell authors the ultimate compliment they could give me is to sack me because there's nothing left for me to teach them.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I may ask if they will be 'open-minded and willing to accept suggestions'. I'm actually trying to confirm they have standards for the writing they want to achieve and are they're willing to invest some effort to achieve them.

NO ONE is likely to admit that they're not open-minded in any topic! To get around that tendency, I'll send a suggestion, maybe two simple ones, to test the water. If they encourage more, I'll try a few more to see whether they make any changes or not. If they don't, I generally won't suggest anything else. If they're looking for the feedback and are eager for it, then I'll offer a full edit or list of corrections.

Also, typically it takes a while for authors to modify their styles (i.e. they'll make corrections, but they'll rarely continue making the same mistakes for some time until they finally internalize the lesson). That's not an automatic process.

I tell authors the ultimate compliment they could give me is to sack me because there's nothing left for me to teach them.

Ha-ha. More likely, they'll let you go when they tire of fighting over the same issues, despite expressing an unwillingness to accept a certain change.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

for some time until they finally internalize the lesson). That's not an automatic process

An IMPORTANT point for others who may read here to know.
I just sent an email to a new author (who assures me they want to learn how to self-edit) citing my experience of that. I've thought I had many things sorted out, only to have the penny finally drop with a new understanding - after other things had become more clear.
I stated I expected to repeat some explanations a number of times before they 'internalise' them.
... and yes, I am certain I will find out later on that many of the pennies I'd thought had finally dropped for me were merely half-pennies.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Ross at Play

Hay pennies make less noise, dropping, than copper ones.

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