Today, I'm delighted to welcome a very special friend of mine and also talented author Helen Stubbs to the blog. And, as you guessed, talking about that sore subject of EDITING!
Four Sides of the Story: My best and worst experiences working with (and as) and editor.
Well, that sounds juicy, doesn’t it?
I love an editor who makes me work.
I revel in the editing process – even though it can be painful. For me it’s about the story; taking it up to the highest level possible, which requires putting my writer’s ego aside and sweating it out – like a work out at the gym – strengthening my story, trimming its flab and bringing out the best in those attractive parts like developed characters and relationships and the plot.
The first time an editor made me work hard on a story was when I worked with Elizabeth Fitzgerald on my story “Stormchilds” for her CSFG anthology, Winds of Change.
Elizabeth discussed things she felt weren’t working in the story and asked me for my thoughts. She made suggestions and guided me, as I rewrote particular sections and developed characters. She came back to me with edits around five or six times, so I redrafted the relevant sections.
There’s something lovely about an editor seeing potential in a story and lending their time and expertise to improve it.
The result was a much better final story – one which gives me tingles when I read it. I was tired of working on it, sure, and relieved when we signed off on it. But you have to work hard to create something worth reading.
What I most dislike about working with editors is when I don’t get to. Sometimes one of my stories is accepted for publication and an editing phase is skipped, and that makes me sad. Maybe some stories don’t need structural and fine edits? I don’t think so. I feel that my work will always benefit from an editor’s input. Rewriting based on thorough structural and fine edits tends to produce a story that I’m really proud of.
Working as an Editor
My favourite parts of working as an editor – which I’ve only done a little of (though I’ve done lots of critique or beta-reading) – would be when authors have appreciated my work, and I’ve helped transform a story from a good one into a great one.
I love it when this happens: something isn’t quite working in a story, and as an editor I highlight that and make a suggestion, then the writer comes back with something even better. There should be a name for it –the Editorial Two Step.
I particularly enjoyed working with Betsy Roberts on No Lime Ice Cream and Rebecca Fraser on Coralesque, which was recently republished in Killing It Softly. (Recommend!)
My worst experience of working as an editor was when I asked an author to try to bring out a little more in a beautiful scene. We were a few rewrites in and she must have been tired of the process, because she made comical changes to the scene.
That actually really hurt me. As an editor I was highly invested in the story, and the scene. I’d spent hours working on it, and I wanted it to be the best it could be, and she’d purposely ruined it. Her sarcastic changes to the story seemed to indicate that she had no appreciation of my work.
Having held the editor’s pen, as a writer I’m always grateful and respectful when an editor brings their expertise to my story.
I’m sure that everyone’s experience of working with, and as, an editor are different. If you have an interesting story about your experiences, please let me know.
Helen Stubbs writes stories that are dark with pointy edges, published on Amazon and in anthologies and magazines including Apex Magazine, The Never Never Land, Midnight Echo, and Winds of Change. She interviews for Galactic Chat and the Australian SF Snapshot. In 2010 she won the Worldcon short story competition and in 2015 she won a Ditmar Award for Best New Talent in Australian SF.
She’s a keen obstacle course racer (think Tough Mudder and Spartan) and loves zip-lining and hiking. Sometimes she climbs things she shouldn’t! Check out her blog or say ‘hi’ on Twitter to @superleni.