Friday, February 15, 2013
Writing: Line Edits
One of the difficult tasks of an author is to accept the fact that their work isn't perfect. They struggle to produce a manuscript, then their editor gives them "notes." These may be simple or (more usually) detailed. The author makes revisions, and then the line editor takes over.
Responding to line edits seems to me very much like writing with someone looking over your shoulder, often saying things like, "I think this will trip up the reader," or "this is inconsistent," or "I don't buy your premise here." That's in addition to suggesting changes by shuffling sentences and changing words. Those are easy decisions for the author. Significant rewriting, however, is tough.
Let me hasten to say that my line editor on this project has done a great job (you'll find out her identity when you read the acknowledgements in the book). Nevertheless, it's difficult--even a bit painful--to work through the recommendations. I wish I had her here so I could say, "But I meant thus-and-such." However, as was pointed out to me in my very first writing class, the author can't stand beside every reader and explain his or her work. It has to be self-evident. That was why we had to keep silent while the rest of the class read our submissions. And that was good training for responding to line edits.
Do you have any questions about line edits or any other part of the writing life? Leave a comment, and I'll do my best to answer.
(photo via FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
NOTE: I was interviewed yesterday, along with eight other authors, on Novel Crossing, talking about Valentine Memories. Hope you'll click here to read it.