August 21st, 2005

bear by san

A novel is a work of fiction longer than a short story, and flawed.

via The Deipnosophist, "Black day for the blue pencil." Interesting article, but I can't help but think it needed an editor, as the journalist seems to be stabbing kind of tentatively around for a thesis. Is the art of editing dead, or isn't it?

My own experience with editors and copyeditors is almost universally good. I've had one bad copyeditor experience, on a piece of short fiction, which was speedily resolved by an appeal to the editor of the magazine in question. (NB: a copyeditor is welcome to fix my word repetition, crappy writing, to query my factual errors or inconsistencies (eye color creep is an infamous case), to repair grammatical wackery and malapropisms, and generally do her job. She's not empowered to restructure an entire short story. And if she gets snippy with me when I answer her queries with factual references, photographs, and footnotes, I will tell her boss on her. That said, copyeditors are among the great unsung heroes of writing, and I know I owe, at the very least, Paul Witcover and Faren Bachelis a very nice dinner apiece for keeping me from going out with my skirt tucked in my knickers. And there are other CEs I would praise as well, if I but knew their names. (Which is not to denigrate the contributions of the other unsung heroes of publishing--a good book designer, art director, publicist, and sales staff are all worth their weight in gold, and independent booksellers are an essay unto themselves. But this is not that essay.))

A good editor has his or her own style, and every editor has strengths and weaknesses (like every novelist)--but a good one will tease out the heart of a story, identify inconsistencies and the hesitation marks and bracketing shots that creep in while the writer is sighting in on the target and wrestling the mighty anacondas of theme and plot. He'll identify the bits where the writer is thrashing, or masturbating, or explaining the story to himself (we all do it--books are often too big to fit neatly in one's skull all at once), and also the bits where something seemed so obvious to the writer that it needed no explanation, whereas to the reader it's an elephant in a dark room. She'll settle infelicities and bring the writer's style to the fore.

In extreme cases, she may indeed rewrite entire passages. Sometimes there are reasons for this choice.

I've got my fingers crossed that I never have the experience to write a similarly discursive essay on what a bad editor is like.
bear by san

(no subject)

I am the happiest Bear in Beardom.

I have tickets to see Camelot and Doctor Faustus at the Utah Shakespeare Festival this weekend. And the production of Faustus is in their Elizabethan-style theatre.

w007, I say. w007! (this almost makes up for not being in England, currently, where I'd have a halfway decent chance of going to see Richard Thompson and Dar Williams and/or the OP Troilus & Cressida with silme.)
  • Current Music
    Holst - Mars/ The Pogues - The Old Main Drag
bear by san

(no subject)

Really pleased I got this much done last night and today, considering I worked a full day. I had a brief moment of panic when I thought that all of my novels revolved around parent-child relationships, but then I realized that All the Windwracked Stars and By the Mountain Bound are pretty much child-free.

It was a relief, anyway. Still, I think the next book had better be child-free. Or nearly so.

I actually am contemplating writing something set in Drowned New Orleans for the next book. Not that I actually need to make up my mind until the beginning of January, which is when I have to hand Anne the pitch. So it could be something in the "Two Dreams on Trains" universe, or something in the "When you Visit the Magoebaskloof Hotel, be Certain not to Miss the Samango Monkeys" universe, or a (distant, nonlinear) sequel to the Jenny books (working title Spindrift), or possibly something else in the Carnival universe.

If any of these guys survive.

The good news is that my option novel for Penguin is the first half of the Stratford Man duology, so it's already written and only needs to be made pretty and have some boneheadedness and bad craft pulled out. So... I only have to write one book next year. Unless The Cobbler's Boy or A Companion to Wolves sells, anyway. In which case I might have to write half of another one.

A book and possibly half of another book. In something like fifteen months. It says something about how hard I've been working that that seems like a whole year's vacation, practically. Hey, maybe I'll get some short fiction done.

And in the meantime, I can't wait to get Carnival done and take a crack at sleeping my life away for about two weeks. I'll get up to eat, check my email, go to the day job, and possibly play The Sims until my hair falls out. (About time I got back to The Village...*g*) On track to finish this thing by the end of September, though. That is the goal.

That is the goal.

Progress notes for 21 August 2005:


New Words: 2,112
Total Words: 49,358 / 59,250
Notecards destroyed: 3
Pages: 237

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
59,250 / 110,000
Reason for stopping: quota
Mammalian Assistance:  none
Stimulants: seltzer
Exercise: none
Mail: congratulations, slithytove, the WotF grand prize winner for 2005.
Today's words Word don't know: n/a
Words I'm surprised Word do know: nictitating
Tyop du jour: n/a
Darling du jour: n/a
Books in progress, but not at all quickly: Richard Overy, Russia's War: A History of the Soviet War Effort, 1941-1945; David Riggs, The World of Christopher Marlowe; Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Pashazade
Mean things: Vincent lost his temper.
Other writing-related work:  n/a
Interesting tidbits:  n/a
  • Current Music
    Pat Benatar - Invincible (Theme From "The Legend of Billie Jean")
  • Tags