More thoughts on editing

Went back and collected the last couple weeks of my #amediting tweets from Twitter. Editing is more fun than a barrel o’ wordmonkeys. Finished the novel. Sweet—plus the fabulous effect that it’s not mine. Love not being in charge o’ the art.

My best to everyone,


•    More words do not mean more power.
•    Sometimes okay is good enough and sometimes it ain’t.
•    Mellifluous prose is nice, but sacrificing meaning for it is the habit of an amateur.
•    Life may be hard, but at least I’m fat.
•    You don’t write for effect, you write to describe.
•    One doesn’t need to be taught to write. One only needs to read. If a writer is in you, it will come out.
•    Perfectionism has no place in a writer. Only in an editor.
•    Writing on impulse is great, but editing on impulse can lead to more editing.
•    I think editors must be in a conspiracy to not mention how freakin’ easy it is to spot boo-boos in other people’s writing.
•    Those arguments you have in your head with somebody after the fact? Good dialogue practice, keep doing it.
•    Artistic isn’t always better, especially in popular fiction.
•    A good editor is happiest when he’s wrong.

•    You know, if you were writing to you, that would be perfect. But you ain’t.
•    You need to quit treating your reader like a dumbass.
•    What makes a writer isn’t the way you say stuff, it’s having something to say.
•    Some words are so unusual you can only use them once a book. Twice, and you seem like a total ass.
•    What people don’t realize is that infinity is in everything.
•    Nothing can be pre-assumed or other-directed. It must come from your soul, pure.
•    If you never say ‘off on the necessary’ once your entire novel, I shall be pleased.
•    You’ll find expert writers don’t mind word duplication as much as inexperienced ones.
•    When objects and people become too artistic, they become annoying.
•    Nothing is ever always verboten.
•    All words are equal.
•    Band-Aids are bad.
•    Understatement is better than overstatement.
•    As long as you stick to the mighty principle that you can’t fix plot problems with narrative, you’ll be fine.
•    Hope is the fuel of self-discipline.
•    No matter how many rules you follow, eventually you come to stuff that’s in between all of them.
•    Not being a writer is the greatest failure I ever had.
•    You write out of your own head. You edit out of the reader’s head.
•    It’s actually possible to edit life the way you do a book: line up your options, be creative, pick the best one, continue onward.
•    You cannot give excuses in the description for a plot that is contrived. That never, ever works.
•    Never brag about your characters in the description. Let their actions and words do that.
•    I think there should be a law that you can make up a new word whenever you need one.
•    ‘The helicopter whirred thumpingly’ does not work for me.
•    The main thing that makes me better than normal editors is that they’re not insane.
•    Don’t write from the outside in, directing your chars. Write from the inside out, see with their eyes, feel what they would do.
•    One of the greatest things about being an editor is you don’t have to tell anybody anymore you’re a writer. Whew.
•    I am an artist. I am not afraid (it’s my job).
•    The main thing is to keep your writer from killing himself.
•    A writer writes on confidence the way an engine runs on gas. Do not tamper with that precious confidence.
•    Putting a word into italics so you can add a little special meaning of your own is disrespectful to the real word. Just tell it.
•    The problem is never the problem. It’s the despair over the problem that’s the problem.
•    How to tell if something is true: Heck if I know, it just is. You can tell, can’t you? It has an unmistakable ring to it.
•    Anything that is possible—if it’s true—you can make seem normal and natural.
•    What you don’t understand is that I like clichés. Just don’t use them in such a clichéd manner.
•    I know, it sucks, but sunset doesn’t last 24 hours a day. Sorry.
•    Overstatement is not our pal.
•    Novels are not sermons, fyi.
•    If you’ve got a favorite cause to flog, like diversity, for god’s sake don’t put it in your novel. Write a blog or something.
•    Being an editor is a good lesson in thinking twice before you act.
•    The artist’s ego is a precious thing, part of their engine, and it must be treated as if it were spun gold hanging on a thread.
•    Sometimes it’s hard to tell if the writer is being straight with you on an esthetic choice, or is just defending their ego.
•    Tremblingly is a word, but not a very good one.

Filed under: Editing Fiction, The Word Doctor, Writing | Posted on November 17th, 2011 by LWIII

2 Responses to “More thoughts on editing”

  1. Leigh says:

    love this list Tom :) think I will just print it out and post it on my desk as a reminder while writing!


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