Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Without strong editors"

From Shelf Awareness e-newsletter, Nov. 17, 2008:

"Without strong editors, writers are like cars with accelerators but no brakes. While reading many of [the] long passages [in Steve Toltz's A Fraction of the Whole], I pictured him at his computer (or typewriter), entertaining himself with his own wit and wisdom. That's as it should be. Then an editor should tell him, "Steve, you're a great writer (always start with the praise), but let's do some judicious whittling and make this fabulous book (more praise) even better." It's hard work for both author and editor, but it's only fair to those of us who still invest in books."--Cynthia Crossen in the Wall Street Journal's Book Lover column.


Anonymous said...

Too true! EC's Sue-Ellen Gower has mastered the praise/warm-fuzzies intermingled with (brutally) honest editing.

Kate Willoughby said...

Amen! I think JK Rowling's editor needed to read this before that monster Order of the Phoenix was printed.

Barbara Elsborg said...

I wonder if the more famous the author, the less input an editor dare make? I've just finished Duma Key and liked it BUT I'm not sure it needed to be that length. Same with Paullina Simmons Russian trilogy. The last was so long it hurt to hold it.

Unknown said...

Yeah, one hears of prima donna authors who declare that what they write shouldn't be touched by an editor, that their fans adore anything they put out. Those authors are fooling themselves and killing their books slowly. Look at Anne Rice - her books went downhill fast once she stated that she did not allow editing.

Some publishers let big-selling authors get away with this because they figure they can make a bundle on the sales before readers catch on to the diminished quality and stop buying future books.


Charlee Compo said...

I have lash marks left by my editor but when she compliments something I've written, it eases the sting. She's a tough one but I wouldn't have another. What's the old saying? It's better to stay with the evil you know. :))

All kidding aside, I am a much better writer because my EC editor cares. She doesn't do litter boxes even if she swears she will but, then again, no one's purrfect.

Anonymous said...

Flick - Hubby just finished Duma Key and said the exact same thing about it.

I've pretty much quit Stuart Woods. It's obviously that what he writes is what is printed. The last few needed an editor in the worse way.

Charlee Compo said...

The infamous Stuart Woods Changing Sex Scene comes to mind.

At the end of one book, the loveofhislife Arlington gives birth to a daughter. At the beginning of the next book, the child is now a boy.

Great editor for that one!

That's even better than my black stallion becoming a gray mare as s/he crossed a stream in Scotland.

lynneconnolly said...

I have three great editors and one of these is Briana St. James here at Ellora's Cave. Briana has mentored a lot of authors in her career, and I'm delighted to be another one. Her little questions in the margin pull me right back down to earth and make me think about my stuff. Every author needs a great editor to keep her in the zone.