Friday, March 09, 2007

Editing; A Writer's Friend or Foe?

It all depends, of course, on whose writing we're talking about.

If it's your own, then your words is like your childrens.

"It appears that you have two sons and a daughter. We editors have taken notice. Is it really necessary to have both sons? It's redundant."

"But...but I love my sons! Both of them! Even the ugly one!"

"Well, if you ever want to sell your family, you're going to need to cut down on the excess. I mean, come on... TWO boys? Nobody's going to want to see one of them and then turn around and see a repeat. They'll get bored! They'll go watch TV and scratch themselves instead. No, I'm terribly sorry, but one of them has to go."

"Okay, but I'm going to keep him in a folder for later."

That's the way it feels, anyway. I've been diligently trying to force myself to write a page a day in the Scruffy Love book, and so far so good. It seems, however, that I have fallen into the Stephen King trap: describing mundane things in order to "immerse" the reader.

Ricky the Bastard took a deep breath. First, he dilated his nostrils slightly, then with a contraction of his diaphragm, forced an imbalance in air pressure between his lungs and the surrounding atmosphere. This caused air to rush into his respiratory system, where the alveoli in his lungs grabbed greedily at all the oxygens in this air that had recently taken up residence...

It gets boring after awhile, my father has pointed out. I read my work to him, you see, because I'm proud of the fact that I actually accomplished something.

"So? Whaddya think?"

"I never really loved you."

"I mean the story."

"That's what I'm talking about. It was so bad, I've recanted my regard for you."

"What should I change?"

"Take it all out and replace it with something better."

Editors have to be harsh.


Paul FooDaddy Brand said...

The Father has asked me to point out that he really wasn't that evil.

Anonymous said...

Honest! I wasn't! I gave him examples from Twain and Spike Milligan and Vonnegut! I fed him a Whopper!

Anonymous said...

Well, the whopper is what makes me think you really weren't that mean. Nobody would feed their son a whopper if they were mean.

Jack W. Regan said...

Unless, of course, their son preferred Big Macs.

Anonymous said...

Also examples from *Young Ones* and Stephen Leacock and Thomas Wolfe and Maxwell Perkins and Joseph Heller! And he didn't even offer to pay for the Whopper! And I didn't give him The Look. Really!

Editing really IS painful, which I tried to teach him years ago. Regardless, it must be done. It makes all the difference. It's finally making the transition between spoken English and written English. They're almost different languages.

(Uck.) Big Macs! (Gag.) No! The Boy doesn't touch 'em, thanks Gott, otherwise I'd have to reserve my regard for the tad..

Anonymous said...

Wise choice Big Macs aren't near as good as a good ole whopper.

Jacob Nordby said...

I tend to think that Foodaddy's Daddy WAS "that evil". However, there is precedent to support the theory that an evil, overbearing authority figure can produce great genius--ala Pagannini, Michael Jackson and others.

So, as unbearable as he must have been (yeah, he makes hisself sound so nice with the Whopper bit, but imagine that Whopper after it had been left to chill in the garage for a few days and then shoved under the garret door for poor little Foo!), he has unleashed a maniacal genius on the earth.

Here's to Evil Pappys

Paul FooDaddy Brand said...

When I was little, he tried to get me to eat dryer lint. Told me it'd make me smarter.

And you know what? That was a lie.

Jack W. Regan said...

Constructive criticism is always good. I can use all I can get. Ultimately, though, a writer should use his own judgment. That's something I've learned and it's tough, because it makes you ultimately responsible. Scary. And sometimes embarrassing.