Today’s post comes to us from Christina Ledbetter. This girl is crazy awesome, and today she shares with us some insights she learned from editing for a famous author. I wonder who it is. Enjoy!
What I Learned Editing for a Crazy Famous Author
I spent last summer doing some editing for a Houston author. She’d email over a manuscript and I’d immerse myself in her stories of Middle Eastern streets, temples, women, gardeners and royalty. She’s crazy famous, and one of her books is even a movie. However, due to my extreme and unfounded fear of being sued, I’ll keep her name to myself until I’m crazy famous myself one day. Then I’ll be all like, “I started out editing for So-and-so; can you believe it!?”
While working for her, I tried to soak up everything I could, and sat awestruck at times at her turn of words. Here’s a bit of what I learned:
- She wrote what she knew but described it as if we’ve never been there. I kind of feel like I’ve been to the Middle East in the eighties now that I’ve read about the government and worship and clothing.
- She wasn’t that concerned with punctuation on her first drafts. From reading around a dozen short stories of hers, I realized she focused on writing the story, of developing rich characters with tempers and fears and predicaments and detailed clothing. Pesky comma placements were placed on the backburner.
- Hire someone to do the parts you aren’t great at (like editing) – She specifically hired me to read and edit her books from an American perspective. Since she’s from another continent, she wasn’t sure if Americans would understand her perspective. She didn’t assume anything and paid me a meager rate to make sure she was doing things right.
- She placed me inside scenes – When describing NYC (not all of her stories were set in the Middle East), she writes about what happens to her character as he’s swindled by a card player on the sidewalk. I was right there with him, begging him not to give in to the swindler’s lures.
Those are just the highlights, but I’ve already tried to incorporate them into my own writing. What have you learned from great writers? We’d love to hear (and would love to read the tips in action, too). Register with Kbuuk and allow us to learn from you.