In my spare time these days, I am editing a manuscript for a novel written by a family member. It’s turned into quite an undertaking, likely because I am a little anal retentive when it comes to coherent writing. I’m having to learn to let stylistic differences by, and I think I’m getting better at that. What remains, however, is still very awkward. The author is an avid reader, and has written prolifically in the non-fiction spectrum, but fiction is a new adventure and she makes a lot of the mistakes I mentioned awhile back in my list of Fiction Pitfalls.
I had to make her promise not to disown, fire, or disinherit me before agreeing to give her honest comments and opinions.
The payoff for me is that sometimes the mistakes are really entertaining. I came across one today that was so good, I had to illustrate it for her. The paragraph, pre-editing, read:
“Uh, wh-what,” Yates jerked to attention and looked around dazedly. His large frame had been hanging languidly off the side of the saddle.
Okay, so I’m not going to win any illustrator’s awards. But I do entertain myself. I hope she’ll also find it just a little funny. If we can’t laugh at our own absurd mistakes… well, what’s the point?
The edited paragraph, if anyone’s curious will (as suggested) read like so:
“Eh? What?” Yates jerked to attention and looked dazedly around. He had been dozing in his saddle.
(My qualifications as an editor, by the way, are completely based in the fact that I’ve been writing amateur fanfiction for the last decade, so I have seen a LOT of writing done wrong, and a lot of writing done right. So I’m not making any grand claims of being professional at this, just practiced.)