Island Life, Word Birds & Process
Recently, I checked out a self-published book only to be put off by basic grammatical errors in the first paragraph. Now I’m not saying traditionally published books escape unsullied by error. Of course they don’t – by & large though it’s unwitting, more proofreading slippage than lazy editorial faux pas. The latter grates & guarantees I won’t buy the book.
Moving onwards & a little bit sideways, I’m prompted to another of my ‘we all need an objective editor’ rants. Sloppy, basic editing apart – for which there is little excuse, frankly – I’m thinking more about content & the shape of the story on the page.
The other day I outlined the plot of what I hope will be my third book to my mentor: aka Yoda (only far prettier.) She listened attentively, asked for the odd bit of clarification & I thought to myself, ‘Hello! This is going well!’ She then proceeded to turn my plot on its head & ruin my reveal! (I know – some people?) It was however another one of those magical moments of instant recognition & I ticked the proverbial box.
This is what great editors do – they read between our lines & find the version of the story we’re meant to be writing. It isn’t the wrong story. Not unlike Eric, in The Morecambe & Wise Show, when he played delicious musical mind games with a bemused Andre Previn – I have the right words, but not necessarily in the right order.
As usual – & any self-aware writer will get this – I’m too close to the story not to miss the occasional crucial signpost. I have to take that reveal & do something smarter with it. And how clever the alternative! How simple.
My words birds like a nice tune & do send me some lovely ones. They approve the new plot. It’s still made of the same notes – I’ve just played with the order a bit. It’s all about perception. And tempo. About setting things on fire a bit.
As for any errors – well yes – at this stage (draft zero) loads of them. But once I get to my first, proper one & begin sorting the sonatas from the scherzos so to speak, I can pretty much guarantee I’ll at least have my singular & my plural sorted.