Today we detour deep into the editing process.
I've been following John Adamus's article series entitled Editing Out In The Open. If you haven't, click through immediately and go catch up. The two examples of editing he gives really open up the process and give a great overview of what to expect if you've never worked with an editor before.
His latest article gives an example of Game Flavor Text. We got to talking on G+ and he talked me into Line Editing the same manuscript to provide some contrast to his example of Developmental Editing. I'll explore the different types of editing in a future Writing Tips article, so you'll see links to his article and this one again when that article gets published. I'm not as eye-meltingly fast as John, but I managed to get this turned around in 8 hours (I was commuting and eating dinner and doing dishes and tucking in my daughter in that time as well).
A big thank you goes to Jeff Dougan for letting us both critique his manuscript in public. Be sure to check out the plans for A Holiday Feast of Gaming this November, and start working on articles for the blogfest now.
DISCLAIMER: I have a really hard time keeping my mouth shut when confronted with something I have the power to fix. I tried not to dig too deep into the developmental side, but I couldn't leave that first paragraph alone.
Per John's formatting inline edits are in
At the end of the Dawn War, the gods sat back to observe the world they had created. Khala’s power was tied to the cold, but as the goddess of winter
When forced to surrender her power to the usurping death goddess, Khala
Hard of heart herself, (Were you going for alliteration here? Also this "hard of heart" reference totally comes out of left field.) the Snow Queen now roams the world and the Feywild,
although her dislike of the Raven Queen keeps her far away from the walls of Letherna. She occasionally spots a mortal to whom she takes a capricious fancy, and may transport that individual off to the Heart of Winter for a time , until that mortal freezes to death despite the gifts she bestows. She can otherwise be found anyplace where there is water, for all water has the potential to become snow and ice. When her ire is roused rises, expect a blizzard to ravage the area.
The cover email would go something like this:
I've attached the edited version of the Snow Queen flavor text. I like the feeling of it, but the story is hard to follow in spots. I’d ask you some deeper questions about what you’re going for here, but I don’t want to stray too far into development editor territory. I've added inline comments where appropriate, but here are some overall notes:
- You lost me in the first paragraph. It jumps around too much and doesn't tell a coherent story. It feels almost like you’re adding references without tying them solidly to the story, and it comes across as fragmented and confusing. I found myself wondering why Khala would make the mirror in the first place, and that uncertainty colored the way I read the rest of it. If you could rewrite the origin story with these things in mind, I think the whole piece would really catch my interest and flow much more easily from there.
- Watch your verb choice. Passive voice rears its ugly head in here, which makes it more preachy than showy. I'd use active verbs to fire the imagination wherever you can. Example: In the second paragraph I changed “...those who are touched by them...” to “...anyone touching them...” which conveys the same idea in half the words without people waiting around passively to be touched.
Note to self: Formatting edits from Word to display correctly in a blog post will leave a mark.
I feel like I've just been part of an Edit-Off. Going head-to-head with another editor on the same piece is a new experience for me, but the vulnerability and fear of not measuring up is more than worth the view into someone else's editing process. We edited with different intents so we looked for different things, but that doesn't make the insights any less powerful. This exercise was well worth the time investment.
I find it fascinating to read what John commented on that I would probably let go, and more fascinating to see what John skipped that just sets my teeth on edge. There's no right way to edit, and it's very much an art to spot the clunky bits and make suggestions. We each have very different styles in our editing.
And that's awesome.
If you've made it this far, please go take a look at John's GoFundMe Campaign. If you can spare a few bucks, he could use a hand making ends meet this summer.
And John, thank you. Anytime you want to do something like this again, please let me know. This experience rocked hard and taught me plenty.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment if you got something out of this experiment, and please let me know if want to see more things like this.