Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Editing in Evidence

The term is almost over and summer's almost here! If that doesn't lift the spirits, I don't know what will!

Unfortunately, however, summer is only three months of awesome--three months which I intend to overfill with personal obligations. I will be writing a paper, and working (hopefully more) and trying to churn out some fiction, which I can then fold into amusing origami shapes and send to potential publishers ....

Meanwhile, since it's been so long since I've done any fiction writing, I think I'm going to brush up on my basics again. Besides wanting to watch/read art related stuff, I want to pick up the ever-handy Strunk and White's Elements of Style, and maybe also Browne and King's Self-Editing Your Fiction. Strunk and White is THE guide to writing, whether you're a reporter, biographer, student, or fiction writer. I've read it a handful of times, and it's always helpful to go back to, just to get a reminder of things that may have fallen to the wayside. That said, it's a very general guide, and doesn't give a lot of advice that's immediately useful for fiction. Although the co-author, E. B. White, was the guy who wrote Charlotte's Web, so he knew what he was doing writing this little book.

Browne and King's is more useful if you want actual blow-by-blow assistance with fiction-writing issues. They do a good job of everything from sentence structure to giving tips on how to effectively guide a story. These authors, both fiction editors by profession, know what publishers will and won't accept, and how you can shape your story accordingly.

Maybe I'll also hunt up a couple other editing books, who knows? It's always good to get a new perspective. I've read dozens of such books in my life, and can also recommend Ursula K Le Guin's Steering the Craft, or Stephen King's On Writing (which is half biography but sneakily makes its point about compelling writing in this aspect too...).

For the most part if you read books on editing they'll give you the same dozen or so tips. Maybe spoken in a slightly different way, but this just means that the same issues crop up for authors, editors, and publishers when it comes to What's Good. That said, I wonder if this changes? I mean, Strunk and White is from, like, the '20s or '30s, and Browne and King was published in the (gasp!) '90s. Are they still relevant? Well, judging from the fact that EVERYONE still recommends that you read Strunk and White at least once in your life ... I guess that one is.

On the other hand, I've read editing books by people who don't have the experience, or who you've never heard of, and though they'll give you the same pointers on adjectives and POV, it doesn't feel quite the same coming from some random person who may/may not have the credentials to back it up. It makes me wonder what an Idiot's Guide to Fiction Writing might be like. Hmm, maybe I'll see if the library has a copy of that...

Hey, how did this post turn into an editing advice corner? I think it has to do with the fact that I need to get down to some editing of my own pretty soon. But hey, maybe this could be useful to someone else, too!

No comments:

Post a Comment