Essays

Tempted to Let Your Beloved Edit Your Work?

First, better give them this letter  

                                                          by Nancy G. West

Dear (beloved) Editor,

Your GOAL is to read this manuscript for the flow of the story and its entertainment value. Follow the logic of the story. Enjoy characters’ personalities. Discern their motives. Do they grow and change?

Different parts of the brain operate when you read for enjoyment as opposed to searching for grammatical or punctuation errors. Therefore, you will have another opportunity to act as copy editor during a second reading. If you feel compelled to correct grammar/punctuation on this page, inform the author (me) that you relinquish your editorial position, effective immediately.

Still with me? Okay. During the first reading, choose a number(s) from the following twelve-item list, bracket the text you’re referring to and pencil comments in the margin of the manuscript:

1. I like this character, description, scene or dialogue.

2. This moves slowly.

3. This made me chuckle.

4. Huh? (Try to explain your stunned reaction.)

5. Too much verbiage.

6. Needs further explanation. (What more do we need to know?)

7. Repetitious. (Find page where this was previously mentioned. Is new information  added here?)

8. Would character really say or do this? (No? Why not?)

9. A contradiction of logic. (Find earlier statement that contradicts this and note page number. Bracket this contradiction.)

10. Is writer ahead of reader here? (Writer seems to assume something reader doesn’t know.)

11. This part created questions. It either (a) made me want to learn more or (b) made me wonder why the author included this.

12. If you have other comments not included above, pencil them in the margin and bracket the text they refer to.

13. Now tell me, TAHDAH! – WHAT YOU LIKED MOST ABOUT THIS BOOK! and what you liked least about this book.

One more thing: If, at any point, you feel compelled to be a smart-alec, try to be a helpful smart-alec.

Thank you,

Your (beloved) trusting writer.

p.s. Consider whether editing this manuscript will enhance our long, fruitful relationship, or whether your editing career will begin and end with this assignment.

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Article first appeared January 12, 2013 at http://patriciastoltey.blogspot.com/2013/01/tempted-to-let-your-beloved-edit-your.html Thanks to Patricia Stoltey!