The Importance of Editing: With Thanks to Chuck Wendig and John Adamus

As you begin your first essay for this class, I’ve spoken to you about the editing process. I’ve tried to impress on you that while getting those ideas out on paper or computer screen may seem like a monumental task, that’s where the really tough work of editing tour work begins.

blackbirdsI ran across this fantastic post over on author Chuck Wendig’s blog about just that: the importance of editing. He is the author of such varied books as Aftermath: Star Wars: Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Miriam Black Blackbird series, and Dinocalypse Now, among many other. I have read many of his novels, and they are enjoyable. His tremendous imagination and sense of humor come through to make the pages fly!

Dinocalypse Now

As a fan of his, I was checking out his blog the other day–not stalking him!, and came across a post by John Adamus, a fried of Mr. Wendig, who is a professional editor. When I read the article, I saw that a pro was giving our very similar advice to what I had been telling you in class. I asked Mr. Wendig and Mr. Adamus if they would allow me to share this with you, and they very graciously agreed. Here are some of the highlights from Why Editing (By An Editor Who Isn’t You) Matters by John Adamus.

“Editors do more than press F7

Editors hear this a lot, often from people who have no interest in having their work edited, or have an overall sense that editing will somehow change their work irrevocably for the worse. It’s important to remember that writers don’t just cut and paste other people’s stories, and painters don’t just color within the lines, so it’s dismissive to sum up editing as some baleful ruiner of ideas. Change is part of evolution and an editor is critical in pushing that evolution forward.

There is more to editing than pressing a single key. There’s checking grammar and spelling, yes, but also there are checks on a manuscript’s plot, dialogue, word choice, pacing, character arcs, character names, expositive flow, and consistency in consequences. There isn’t one keystroke that checks, questions, and certifies all those elements.

It is through words that we find ourselves. We use language as a tool of discovery, a tool of experience and as a tool of forging ourselves a path in life. We too often mark our lives by our hardships and failures, and sometimes we are hesitant to call attention to our successes out of fear we will be thought of as arrogant or selfish. But it is neither arrogant nor selfish to take a moment for positivity. It may feel foreign or hokey, I know it does for me, but it is okay to give yourself a gold star when something goes right. Consider this sentence your permission slip. Our ability to share stories and transcend boundaries through creativity elevate us from bipeds wearing pants to true wizards, Istari with adjectives and a burning passion engage other people with story paintings we can draw in their minds.”

Later, Mr. Adamus says something every writer, from students writing a high school paper, to professionals publishing a book need to hear.

“You may not always feel good enough to do be a writer. You may feel discouraged. You may look at your friends’ successes and wonder if you will ever come close to that. You may look at your life outside and beyond your creative projects and wonder if you have enough time. You may spend nights and days and afternoons angry or scared that precious time is wasting because you’re not writing that paragraph or that chapter or even that word. You may wish for a TARDIS, and mastery over chronology. You may wish for superpowers to write faster, or greater intelligence to conceive of better ideas. You’d not be able to even have those wishes without people creating TARDISes and superpowers so you could be aware of lacking them. The story you’re telling, the thing you’re making, it will be what inspires someone else down the road. You need only keep writing it and then make sure people know it exists.”

I hope you found this interesting and helpful. Pop over to the full article on Chuck’s website, Terrible Minds for even more insight into the editing process.

Feel free to join in on the conversations on Terrible Minds just like you do here! I’m sure Mr. Wendig would like to hear from you!



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