Monday, January 5, 2009

A Note on Editing Fiction


Once in a while, a writer will write an editor and ask what in the world that editor meant about a certain comment on a story.

In the end, comments from editors are sometimes well-meant approximations, general help from honest souls trying to do good.

Those approximations, sometimes accurate, sometimes off, sometimes just maybe can guide like Miyamoto Musashi (famous samurai and author of The Book of Five Rings) who believed that his teachings (not that editors are teachers--they aren't, but let's go with the analogy) best guide someone by keeping aesthetic laws, in Musashi's case those of swordfighting, just beyond concrete, tangible reach because aesthetic laws exist at such an abstract level that they are not very useful when steadfastly applied to, say, the writing of stories.

That's why the best thing to do, sometimes, for someone you're trying to help is, instead of telling them how to fix a story, letting them know where something wasn't as brilliant on paper as it is in the writer's mind.

In the end, the editors at Our Stories are unique. We signed on to give feedback on every single submission.

If we're off from time to time, as editors sometimes are, hopefully the love that guides our work at least offered some helpful, though maybe rough, calculations.

1 comment:

mariomalivert said...

And please keep provide this essential service to writers, because some of us are not part of any structured writing workshops or programs, and only your reviews give us a concrete sense of what the expectations are for literary writing. Then it's up to the writers to use your critiques in improving their writing. All critiques, as harsh as they can be, have some element or hint of truth, and most of the time writers are so into their work that they become oblivious of miscues and unclear passages, which are evident to any other trained eyes.