Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On editing

File:Maxwell Perkins NYWTS.jpgThere’s a good thread on the ADBooks list serve I’m not quite following about big books. I’m on record as loving me some short novels and admiring authors who can do a lot in a little space. One thing, however, that bothers me, is the notion that these books needed to be “edited down.” Or that they’re overlong because they’re “under-edited.”
Being aware of a book’s length relative to its audience's expectations is unquestionably part of the editor’s job, but what I bristle at is the notion that the only meaningful tool an editor wields is a machete and that we cut despite an author’s wishes. Editing at its best is far subtler, more multifaceted, and more collaborative. But don’t take my word for it. Listen to this American RadioWorks podcast , where a radio editor beautifully describes his craft. Couldn’t say it better myself.


Maggie Stiefvater said...

You are making me want to write a blog post about the super powers an editor DOES have at their disposal. Because it's something us mere mortals would do well to emulate before we ever get to the editorial stage.

Anonymous said...

I haven't been editied, Yet! But lengthening or shortening up a book was always the last thing I expected from an editor. I always heard and hoped they would ask/help an author deepen characters, build tension, check narrative arc, etc. The length is the least of my worries! But I write short, so maybe that's why I don't worry.
Thanks for your great post!