I love writing, I love being an editor. Being a writer makes me respect the work I review as an editor, no matter how rough or polished, rude or sophisticated, cliched or original the manuscript is. (I was thinking of editing that final "is" out... hmmm...) The writer got down and wrote -- and that is an accomplishment worth celebrating.
I have not one, but four manuscripts of my own in various stages of being done, I participate in NaNoWriMo and the Three-Day Novel Contest every year and I write 750 words a day to keep my chops up. The more I write, the more I respect writers.
Ah, the life of an editor. We were the ones who were probably paying attention in English class. We love punctuation -- Eats, Shoots and Leaves -- many of us can still diagram a sentence and define a gerund. We use the words subject, predicate, protagonist and antagonist in everyday conversation. We can tell an adjective from an adverb. We know that we no longer double-space before the beginning of a sentence.
Few people understand what we do; fewer still understand that there are different kinds of editing. I am told that most folks think of proofreading when they thing of editing -- but there is much more to editing than that. Editing non-fiction/technical/academic work is dramatically different from editing fiction. Got your Strunk and White? MLA, APA and AP style are different than the Chicago Manual of Style, which is my reference for editing fiction. (More about this to follow in the next post.)
An editor has to know her genres and those have extended far beyond western, detective, spy, science fiction. But now, for every one of those familiar old genres there is a sub-genre of horror, paranormal or fantasy (or all three). I could write multiple paragraphs about the genres and sub-genres and the huge Young Adult (YA) market. But the point is editors usually pick the genres they like to edit. They are familiar enough with the genre to know when an author is mimicking another author's style or plagiarizing it outright.
Folks following this blog will notice a huge gap between the first postings and this latest series; there was another book-in-progress posted -- it is deleted now because the book is in draft and by golly, I have an arc of action and a beginning, middle and an end.
And those (arc of action, beginning/middle/end) are just the start of what an editor looks for in a manuscript.