Today, I want to talk to you about editing. Don't panic this isn't a plug to use my new Hot Tree Editing service. Far from it. In fact, I just want to talk about book editing in general.
I've been editing off and on for the last 10 years, more 'off' in the last five years since having my boy, but I've always made sure I've kept a big toe in - my attempt to avoid becoming rusty or out of touch. I've recently taken the plunge into the world of editing more forcibly and have started HTE. Obviously, "with this power comes great responsibility". And a responsibility it is.
I love it. Truly. But I always have a feeling of horror and impending dread when I read a review that slates the editing. Surely, they can't be talking about me; I'm a 'professional' don't you know! Holding back the sick feeling, I begin to pull apart my own expertise, my knowledge. And the manuscript that I've painstakingly worked on. Don't get me wrong, I know that mistakes go unnoticed, slip past me. It's inevitable. It's horrid, but I've come to terms with that, even when a bit of vomit pops into my mouth when I see a published manuscript without a period where there should be one. The dangers of accepting track changes and becoming too familiar with a manuscript. As I said, pretty crappy, but it happens.
Now it comes to the 'other side' of editing. When is it okay to allow a comma splice to remain? When is it okay to allow a fragmented sentence to exist? My only answer is, it all boils down to the dialogue between the author, and their editor, with the author having the final say.
Writing is fluid, with only the author being truly in control. They have the power to control and manipulate their sentence construction. They have a master plan. I am completely supportive and respectful of this. Their manuscript is their work, their baby.
An aspect of my working relationship with an author is to become familiar with their style as well as their aim and intentions. I have no doubt whatsoever that fragmenting and comma splicing are perfectly acceptable and necessary when they impact on the characterisation and narrative flow. Obviously, word omissions, spelling, punctuation and grammar errors are a different story. They're not okay. But as editors, we're not invincible.
I would love to wear a 'Supereditor' outfit and eradicate every error. I would wear it with pride. I suppose, that's one of the fabulous things about beta readers. They pick up on the discrepancies. They don't reread the manuscript ten times. A good beta reader is worth their weight in gold. Truly.
Where am I going with this? To be honest, I'm shrugging my shoulders right now. Maybe, I'm making an appeal. An appeal to readers: be open minded about comma splicing and sentence fragments, but not about genuine errors - if you see them, let the author know! Seriously, they'd prefer to know by email and look at correcting them rather than having you slate them. Also, an appeal to authors: if you've yet to use beta readers, find yourself an amazing team. Your readers, with some basic English skills, are the perfect checkers post editing and pre-release. So many minor discrepancies can be identified.
I will continue to work toward my outfit. Maybe one day I'll be worthy. I can but try!