Library hidden in a cave
Behold a unique repository of ancient manuscripts known as The Library Cave. It’s a hidden cache of 50,000 books and rolls that were deemed heretical. They date from c. 500 to the year 1002 and were hidden in the cave in the early eleventh century. The texts in the hidden cache have a strong Buddhist focus and are written on silk, paper and hemp. The books and rolls were placed in a walled-off area of a cave complex and they did not see the light of day for 900 years, until the entrance was discovered in 1900. How exciting it must have been to discover this treasure!
Q:Hi QQ, I have an editing situation. I'm interested in developmental editing, and my friend and his co-author have a WIP so I asked to look over it to get some experience/see if it's really something I want to do. I asked if they wanted concrit, they said yes. Less than an hour after I start I get an email from my friend that his co-author feels like I'm 'attacking her story' and could I please only comment on what I like. Is she being too sensitive, or is there editing etiquette I need to know?
Something I had to unlearn after participating in ruthless writing workshops that cut right to the chase, is that some authors really do need to be coddled, have their hand held, and be praised for what they’ve done right. They will be more open to suggestion if you shower them in praise first. And even when you get to the problematic aspects, always make your edits seem like a suggestion.
Of course, you don’t have to listen to my suggestions because this is ultimately your book, and only you know what you want the end product to be, but personally, I was a bit confused about this segment and having an extra sentence clarifying your meaning would set me on the right track.
Once the author explains their intentions, you can say
Hell hath no fury like an author scorned.
Yes, she’s being way too sensitive. As a developmental editor, you have a very valuable service to offer, and that service amounts to making their manuscript better. In order to do that, you need to identify what is wrong with it, what needs improvement, and—yes indeed—what sucks. To comment only on what you like about the story is the literary version of Thumper’s Rule: “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say nothing at all.” It’s like when your actor friend is trying out for a musical and they ask you for feedback on their audition song, and it’s gawdawful, and all you say is “…I really liked how expressive your eyes were!” You are doing them a disservice by allowing them to go into their audition thinking they have a good audition song, when really you are throwing them to the wolves. If you do not point out what’s wrong with their manuscript, then they’re going to present it to publishers before it’s ready and be fucking surprised when publishers hate it.
If the co-author thinks you’re “attacking” their manuscript, then she clearly doesn’t know what a developmental editor does. I think that at this stage it’s very important to completely stop what you’re doing and have a conversation with both authors about what you have to offer them, what value you will add to their manuscript, and what they can expect to see from you. Since it sounds like you approached them in the first place, you might need to simply rescind your offer as something they weren’t ready to receive.
At this time in my career, I very rarely do developmental edits for friends. So most of the editing I do is with authors who understand that I am refining their manuscript for publication, which is kind of easier because my authors all have a sort of “THANK YOU SIR MAY I HAVE ANOTHER” mindset when it comes to my feedback. But when I did do editing for friends, it was always a huge pain in the ass for just this reason.
A lot of writers secretly don’t want to be edited. They don’t want honest feedback. They want unbridled praise from all corners. They think anything less is an insult to them as a writer and as a human being. Well, sorry sensitive writers of the world, but yours is a publicly consumed medium. You have no control over how people react to your work. Every individual reader is going to have a different opinion, and statistically speaking a very large number of them might even hate it.
Don’t like it? Here’s a fucking straw so you can suck it up.
Working with a good developmental editor will increase your chances of having more people like your book. A good developmental editor is obligated to give you honest feedback on every aspect of your book. If that means they “attack” (read: point out poorly-written or developed aspects of the book in a professional and critical manner) your work, then so be it. Don’t dismiss their critiques. Don’t hate them for their honesty. Take their criticism, examine it closely, and ask them to help you explore ways to resolve the issues with your manuscript.
And then send them flowers and a nice bottle of Scotch with their bill because they just did you a huge fucking favor.
As you can see, this is a bit of a sore spot for me. But I’m glad you brought it up. You’re absolutely in the right, and you need to stop and have a serious conversation with the authors before doing any more work. If they insist on only hearing about what you like about the book, then you need to very politely decline to continue working with them. They are not respecting you or your profession, and if you enable their sensitivity, then they will expect the same kind of response from any editor they work with in the future.
Stick to your guns. You’re going to be a great editor.
Oh I can understand what you wanted to get across here. I didn’t see that in my read-through, so let’s identify what would clear up that misunderstanding.
Hopefully those tactics will make them realize that you’re on their side, and want to make their manuscript the best possible version just as much as they do.
Too all those who say they hate ebooks because they miss the feel of the book and turning the pages… not for long.
Obviously great gameplay implications but image how effective this would be for a book like say a Chilton Repair guide. Now you could actually move your hands around the engine to find that awkwardly placed bolt for example. Newcooks could practice separating yolk from egg whites without the clean up.
Read more here. Very cool stuff. ~ eP
The first sentence of a book is a handshake, perhaps an embrace.
WHY SO MANY OF OUR AUTHORS ARE ONLY MEH-WORTHY
Good authors will make their stories and characters feel real, no matter how much or how little room for interpretation they leave.
The storytelling elements:
1. The Contract
In the very beginning, you have to make a promise. Will this be violent? Scary? Fun? Tense? Dramatic?
2. The Pull
Keep it light in the beginning. You don’t want to scare people away by being too dense — you must trust The Contract.
3. The Incident
This is the event that sets everything in motion. Should occur early and keep the story together.
4. The Reveal
Just before the Point Of No Return, the main character learns what the story is really about.
5. Point Of No Return
The forces of good are faced with an impossible decision that concerns fear, safety, love, hate, revenge or despair.
Sorry, but you must allow the the forces of evil to have an epic win.
7. All-Is-Lost Moment
The moment where all is lost. You must portray the deepest despair for the forces of good.
8. News Of Hope
This is the possibility for one of the side characters to shine. A light that shines into the total darkness of the moment.
The shit hits the fan and the good puts everything at stake and overcomes — despite impossible odds.
10. The End
Public displays of relief and happiness, love and forgiveness. It’s great! We also learn that the hero has evolved.
Article from Doktor Spinn written by Jerry Silfwer aka Doktor Spinn