Wednesday, July 24, 2013
After the Acceptance
Katie Carroll is the author of the YA fantasy Elixir Bound and a content editor for MuseItUp Publishing. She's seen the editing process from both sides.
Jeff: What genres of books do you edit? Is it easier or harder to edit stories outside the genre in which you write?
Katie: I edit mostly young adult and middle grade books, pretty much across all genres from humorous contemporary to high fantasy. Though, you will find me occasionally editing a story for adults. I generally stay away from historical (like to read but not necessarily edit these) and gory horror (too scary for my overactive imagination!).
I’m not sure I would say it’s harder or easier to edit based on genre. A lot of what makes editing hard or easy has to do with the author I’m working with. One advantage to working in a genre I’ve written is that I’m likely to be very familiar with the tropes and style of that genre and what kind of voice is appropriate for it.
Jeff: What are your goals when you edit? What's your process?
Katie: I’m what MuseItUp calls a content editor, so that means I’m focusing on story and language, not necessarily line edits. By story I mean having fully fleshed out characters, a good story arc, a good opening hook, scenes that move the story forward. I also check for continuity issues and consistent point of view, among other things. For language, I’m looking at word choice, showing not telling, eliminating repetitive words or phrases, authentic dialogue, eliminating dialogue tags when possible, using active instead of passive words…and well the list could go on and on.
Jeff: What are some of the challenges you face when editing?
Katie: Effective communication is the biggest challenge when editing. I need to figure out a way (keep in mind I do all my editing through the computer, using primarily track changes and emails) to convey what I want in a clear way that the author will understand, but I also need to do it in a respectful manner that won’t offend the writer. As a writer myself, I know how hard it is to receive criticism, even when it’s constructive and thoughtful. I try to always remember that when making marks on a manuscript.
Jeff: What should writers do and not do to get the most out of the editing process?
Katie: I think the most important thing a writer can do during the editing process is keep an open mind. An editor is there is help you make the work the best it can be, and an editor won’t take on a project unless they are passionate about it themselves, so they really only want what’s best for the story. Don’t be afraid to speak up when you disagree with an editor, though. The key is to communicate why you disagree. Editors are humans; we make mistakes (not often but it happens from time to time ☺), and we make suggestions that you may not agree with. That’s okay. Just talk it over. Also, work hard at the editing process. This is your writing, with your name on it, so own it and push yourself to bring it to the next level.
Jeff: How has being an editor impacted your writing?
Katie: Being an editor has definitely made me a better writer and more importantly a better revisor. I’ve learned a whole new list of writing points to push my work to be better. It’s also helped me to be a better advocate for my own work. I have a better idea of what editors are looking for and how to pitch a story with the market in mind. I used to find writing jacket copy and synopses so difficult, but now I can step aside from my own writing and see it from an editor’s perspective. Somehow it makes the synopsis type stuff easier to create.