So it turns out that editing is a craft, too. I don’t mean editing your own work or critiquing others–though that certainly applies, too. No, I mean editing several stories for an anthology.
This is the third year I’ve run programming for the Library at Origins Game Fair and edited the accompanying anthology. While I have certainly edited the previous editions–made suggestions, asked for changes, etc.–this year I’ve done that much more. Cut 2000 words! Your story starts here, not there! I like the story but not the structure–is there a way we can fix that?
Why is this?
Mostly, I’m feeling more comfortable in my editorial skin. I know what I want and I’m not afraid to ask for it. I respect all my authors enough to know that they are capable of making any change I request. I’ve grown as an author, too, so I see more issues with story than I did before. It’s been an enlightening and fun process.
So I’m in the middle of a staycation from the day job, which means I finally have large chunks of time to devote to writing/editing projects (and, who are we kidding, watching West Wing). I’m working on the next Origins Game Fair Library anthology. The stories are great and so the work is enjoyable. It just sort of struck me today as I finished one of the stories: two months ago, this story didn’t exist. These characters didn’t exist, their situation didn’t exist, I didn’t have any clue about any of them. And now, today, I’ve been moved by fictional characters. I care about them. I care what happens to them. All of the stories I’m reading are set in the future, on asteriods and in space ships and on other planets. Alss of them feel very real to me.
Yes, this is due in large part to the skill of the authors and their deftness with words. For whatever reason, today I’m reminded that writers just make shit up in such a way that readers believe it. It’s … sort of magical, when you think about it.
I’ve been going through copy edits this week, so I thought I’d do a quick post about that mysterious language of editors: the proofreader’s marks. On first seeing these strange symbols, you might think that a band of drunken elves wandered into your editor’s office, stole a red pen and doodled some abstract art all over your manuscript during the night, but rest assured, each symbol has a specific meaning, and it’s your job to translate that into revisions to your book.
Over the years, I’ve worked with editors who use proofreader’s marks all the time, and I’ve worked with others who use Track Changes in Microsoft Word, but whatever your editor’s preferred method of communicating corrections, it’s a good idea to have a working knowledge of what these marks look like and what they indicate when they show up peppered all over your manuscript.
I use a few different websites as reference for copy editor’s marks, including Merriam-Webster, but there are quite a few sites out there with depictions of each symbol and what it means. Some of the most helpful ones show examples of the marks in a selection of text. Of course, when in doubt about what something means, always ask your editor.