Monthly Archives: January 2012

The True Editor’s Lexicon

January is almost over, holy crap how did that happen….

Alright, holidays are done, we’re all back at work and having NO FUN and it’s time to get back into the swing of things.

Aside from last-minute minor tweaks, I’ve pretty much finished edits on STORMDANCER. These edits began back in (checks mail) early March 2011. Ergo, I’ve been million-monkeying this Book Thing of mine forrrrr (checks calculator) ten months. I’ve also been scribbling the sequel on napkins in crayon between fugue states, but still: Ten months. There have been wars fought quicker than that. The Anglo-Zanzibar war took 45 minutes FFS. You know when you read writerly advice that tells you ‘Write what you love?’ Well, they tell you that because you’re going to end up reading the frackin’ thing 4,298 times before you’re done.

SO, edits.

I found talking to other authors about edits melted my tiny brain a little confusing, because people use different terms for the same process, and every house is different. SO, in order to prevent you aspiring author types from generating the same aura of dipshittery that has haunted me this past year, I present unto thee a lexicon of editing terminology.

Note: this is the way Editing staff at SMP & Tor UK speak – other houses might use different terms. Editors at Gollancz might refer to ‘copy edits’ as ‘swinging on the golden love-truncheon’ for all I know. Actually, that would be pretty awesome…

Second note: this all takes place after your agent has done their own edits/recommendations/convinced you not to brutally murder your protagonist in the finale of book 1 in a planned trilogy (true story).

STORY EDITS – Also called ‘the Editor’s Letter’ or ‘Editor’s Notes’. You’re as excitable as a crack-baby about your book getting sold, and this puppy lands in your inbox and fills you with all the pep and spunk of a Real Writer™ (ewwwww). If you’re lucky, these Edits are a sunshine-filled cruise through Happyland with scantily-clad hotties in a time-travelling hovercar. If you’re in the 99%, this is where your editor kicks you square in the junk and screams “THAT’S RIGHT I AM THE GODDAMN BATMAN.”

Plot, characters, world building (or demolishing), structure, finale, opening pages, pacing – Story Edits are where it all comes under the chainsaw like so many sexually promiscuous teens in an Eli Roth movie. I had it pretty easy, but a few of my colleagues received novella-length letters that made them seriously wonder why the hells the editor bought the book in the first place. Worse, this stage is sometimes repeated until you ‘get it right’. At your next writer’s convention, make a game of whispering ‘Fourth round story edits’ into the ears of random authors, and see who drops to the ground in fetal position and starts voiding their bowels.

Note: You may notice random compliments scattered among the huge gouges of red pen through your manuscript at this stage, eg “I love the way you use this comma, YOU ARE SO GOOD AT THE COMMA THING”. Your editors do this to stop your fragile ego shattering like glass while they tear you a new orifice. Just roll with it and take the compliments where you can get them.

LINE EDITS – Sometimes Line Edits are conducted at the same time as Story Edits. Sometimes not. This is where you realize you have all the writing chops of a flaming bag of monkey jizz*. Things like sentence structure, word choice, tone, ‘voice’ – all of it falls prey to the Red Pen of Doom™.

Sometimes it’ll be your Regular Editor who does line edits. Sometimes it’ll be your Copy Editor. ‘What’s a Copy Editor, Jay?’ you might find yourself asking aloud, in which case you should stop talking to your computer because I can’t really hear you. It’s not a frackin’ telephone.

COPY EDITS – Ah, the sweet pain of Copy Edits. This is where you pick up a pair of tweezers and comb the mangy nethers of your manuscript in search of lice. Typos and missing words; spelling mistakes (trust me, it happens even at this stage) ; your inexplicable; and improper; use; of ;;semi-colons, and

overly-dramatic!

line!

breaks!

We’re down to the minutiae here, folks. On our hands and knees, eyes all blurry, searching for the literary equivalent of lost contact lenses on a bar floor littered with $2 tequila and strip-club flyers.

At this point, you might find yourself agonizing over the placement of colons, deleting and re-inserting the same comma twenty times, reading the same sentence aloud until you can see through time, your dreams haunted by rampaging flash mobs of apostrophes and exclamation marks hungering for the sweet, gamey tang of human flesh.

This is all totally normal.

GALLEY PROOFING – Some people call these ‘First pass pages’, ‘Unbound galleys’ or just ‘Proofs’. This is where the editors send your book pages, all typeset and laid out how it will look in the Real World. Many writers will ‘squeeeeeeee’ uncontrollably at this point – I prefer to rock a little air guitar, maybe bounce around the room terrifying the dog for a bit, but whatever works for you. Sometimes they’ll send you hardcopy pages, but some houses are wise to the fact that we live in the age of the interwebz, all rocket-packed and collagen injected and whatnot, and they’ll use email instead.

At this stage you’re trying to hunt down the errors that have somehow eluded you on your previous 374 read-throughs. And verily, thou shalt find them in abundance. It’s around this point where you’ll realize that mistakes are going to slip through, even if your copy editor is a former navy seal sharpshooter who once killed a Shetland pony (not the poneeee!) with a paperclip at 200 yards. My copy of the Hunger Games is a 78th edition printing or something, and it still has typos in it – I KNOW I WAS AS SHOCKED AS YOU ARE, WTF COLLINS.

Do your best. But don’t lose sleep.

Paper or Plastic? As mentioned, some houses send physical copies of your work at various stages of this game. Some editors still literally use a Red Pen of Doom on real bonafide paper, and some authors I know do too. They’ll use all kinds of weird editing dashes and symbols and wtfthatsnotinanydictionaryieverheardof words like ‘STET’. Being a bit of a cityboy, not to mention living on the opposite side of the world from my editors where the postmen roam an apocalyptic wasteland with shotguns fending off hordes of mutated man-eating koala bears**, I prefer electronic format. But, whatever works, work it.

That’s all for today, kittens. You may go about your business. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

*It’s been one of my lifelong goals to use the words ‘flaming bag of monkey jizz’ in a coherent sentence. For giving me this opportunity, I thank you.
**Melbourne


The YAmazing Race

If you’re here for the YAmazing Race, but haven’t yet been to the Apocalypsies website, you may be lost! Click here to start from the beginning and read the entry rules. Otherwise, welcome and read on!

STORMDANCER by Jay Kristoff

A DYING LAND 
The Shima Imperium is verging on the brink of environmental collapse; ruined by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshippers of the Lotus Guild. The land is choked with pollution, animal life ravaged by mass extinctions.

AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST
The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are commanded to capture a griffin by their Shōgun. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for a century, and the price for failing the Shōgun is death.

A SIXTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a power that would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded in Shima’s last wilderness with only a crippled griffin for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

*****

That’s all you need to know. Somewhere in there is the answer to your quiz question. But, if you like the sound of the book, you can always hit it up on Goodreads.

Now, before you split – BONUS STAGE! If you follow me on Twitter this week, you’ll be entered to win a signed ARC of STORMDANCER! March like zombies and make with the clickies!

Ready to move on? Click HERE to go to the next stop on the race! Remember, you must complete ALL FIVE quizzes to be eligible for a prize pack, and failure to answer correctly will punished by state-sponsored bludgeoning (I kid, truly) Thanks for stopping by!

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In the House of Goodreads

So while I was in the edit cave on Stormdancer 2 last week, there was a great deal of sound and fury over on Goodreads. If you didn’t get caught up in the spectacle, you’re probably better off for it. Short version: a negative review was posted (which happens all the time and should be no big deal), an agent-mate of the author in question (not the author herself, who handled it all with aplomb) stepped up to defend the work, the whole thing turned ugly, literary agents deleted their GR accounts and folks who enjoy drama (and honestly, we all love it a bit) got their quota for the day.

Veronica Roth wrote a very thoughtful and well-considered post about the feelings/circumstances behind this incident (and the many like it) over at YA Highway. I’ve no doubt that the author in question probably went into that reviewer’s space with good intentions (to defend his friend) and had no idea what a shitstorm he’d create. The real pity is some lovely people who I have all the time in the world for inadvertently got caught in the blastwave, although thankfully, they seem to have avoided the fallout.

Essentially, I think it comes down to this: We create spaces in the online universes. They exist in the public realm, but they’re ours. Everyone is better off when that property line is respected.

This blog is mine, to do with as I see fit: a little online house which I’ve built. I tend the garden, I paint the walls. It’s my place, but you can see through the windows, should you choose to look. And therein lies the rub: no-one is forcing you to look at all. You can ignore everything I do and say with relative ease, whether it be on Goodreads or Facebook or the other, far-more-hideously nerdy online places I hang out.

If I choose to wander around inside my house with no pants on, necking green ginger wine from a brown paper bag, so be it. You don’t have to like it. But again, you don’t have to watch it, either. Regardless, it’s probably not the best policy to come into my house (or Goodreads page, or Facebook or whatever) and tell me I’m doing it wrong. If you don’t like what I’m doing – that’s totally cool. Not everyone wants to see me with no pants on, I understand that. But the solution to this problem (as opposed to the hellish flame-war that would result from criticizing my conduct in my own pad) is really, really simple: Don’t look into my house. Walk the fuck away.

Even if you don’t like it. Even if you think what I’m doing is stupid. The best possible case scenario is that yes, what I’m doing IS stupid. But you still look like a bit of a jerk telling me off about it, since I’m doing it in my own frackin’ house. Worse case scenario? Witnesses to our inevitable flaming collision think I’m perfectly entitled to be wandering around my house with no pants on, and you come off like some kind of radiation-spawned, Tokyo-devouring Douchezilla for chastising me about it. Leave me to my pantslessness. Ultimately, in the grand scheme of things, it really means nothing at all. If I’m out of line, people can and will judge that for themselves. Put the keyboard down and walk the fuck away.

There are no victories in the excrement-fouled halls of internet ‘debate’. Everyone winds up wearing shit – it’s simply a matter of degrees . Or, to put it in pictorial form: