My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Awesome, awesome, awesome! You know how sometimes it takes lots of repetition for a lesson to sink in? (I guess that’s the theory behind multiplication tables in third grade….) Well, sometimes I think that we just need a really good teacher to put the lesson in terms that can be understood.
That teacher is Susan Bell. She’s a professional editor, and not a bad writer either. =)
Bell breaks down the editing process in order to show writers how they can self edit. And this day in age, with the ton of self-publishing e-authors out there, self editing is soooooo important.
Important things that Bell covers: history of editing/editors’ roles, creating distance from the work in order to gain perspective (sometimes it’s literally pasting your work to a wall and looking at it from a different distance), macro vs micro editing, and developing your own style of editing…much like developing your own style of writing. Throughout the book she uses some really stellar examples from F. Scott Fitzgerald legendary book The Great Gatsby and his equally legendary editor, Maxwell Perkins. In the interest of full disclosure: I’m not a huge fan of this classic, but Bell has shown enough about Fitzgerald’s reworking work to make me impressed.
Unlike other books on writing (editing) this one is fairly easy to charge right through. It doesn’t read like stereo instruction and there are no annoying charts/graphs to mathematically dictate how to write creatively. Bell does include checklists–however, they are useful breakdowns of what she has already explained very well in her chapters. Think of them as reminder sheets. All in all, if you’re working on revising a piece, you should read this first. It’s encouraging, practical, and should inspire you to Finish. Yup, with a capital F.
Jenny writes dark fiction that her mother hates. Her stories and essays have appeared in Across the Margin, Pantheon, Shimmer, Black Denim Lit, Skive, and others. When she’s not writing her own stuff, she’s reading mysteries for Criminal Element. When she’s not writing fiction or reviews, she’s writing/directing/performing/designing plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre.