Wednesday, April 14, 2010

...the fight is on sports fans. They're moving around the's a left and a right and a rapid combination... An uppercut to the jaw and... Down Goes Fraizer! Down Goes Fraizer!

With apologies to Howard Cosell -- who I met once as a kid, along with a guy who knew how to build atomic bombs - that's another story -- this type of knock down drag out fight is exactly what I pictured going on in during the editing process. Imagine my surprise when it didn't turn out anything like this for me.

During the editing process of my first book my editor suggested one character wasn't needed - and by George he wasn't. Then she suggested a complete cut of three solid pages - and I suddenly realized, after having re-written that section a hundred times and never being satisfied with it, that the reason I could never make it right was because it wasn't needed at all.

And then when I disagreed with her regarding some of the scientific explanation in the book, we talked and she said, "OK, I see where you're coming from and why the audience would need that."

Truth be told - I felt as if I'd been jipped. Where's the bench clearing brawl? WHere are the ultimatums? What the hell kind of editing process is this anyway?

Does your Editor do this?

I guess mine don't. Perhaps, I've been lucky. So far we've been able to communicate without the need of any Dr. Phil like counseling.

"So you don't want to use proper punctuation, Graham... How's that working out for you?"

"It's working great Phil... and now that I'm on Twitter I don't even have to use English or even real words - so there!"

Um... where was I? Oh yeah - I like my editors. They like me. We can communicate. But what happens when we reach that inevitable moment where we don't see eye to eye? How do I know what to fight for?

I don't know the answer to that. Only that, if it seems important to me, and important to the book and the readers as CJ mentioned the other day, then I have to fight whether I want to or not. So I guess that's my answer - I fight when I feel like I have to. (Pretty lame huh?)

Sorry. Sometimes there are no bright line rules and you just have to muddle your way through.

Keep on Muddling! (I think I'm going to put that on a T-shirt.)

Graham Brown
Author of Black Rain


Sophie Littlefield said...

as for me, i usually run it by the agent first and she says - please please please graham tell me i'm not the only one she says this to - "do you think you made the BEST POSSIBLE STORY CHOICE in that scene?" - and i whimper and dab at my tears and skulk away to try again...

Graham Brown said...

Mostly she just says - get out there and SELL SELL SELL to me - why can't you be more like Sophie!!! It's like childhood all over again.

Terry Stonecrop said...

See, that's the beauty of being "pre-published," (don't you just love euphemisms?) I needn't worry about fighting with those pesky editors. I just have to worry about finishing the thing.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

My editor at Tor mostly just says "Make the sex scenes longer!" plus a bunch of good advice that I follow because it makes the story stronger. That's my only criteria: does it make the story stronger?

If so, I usually get a "busted" feeling in my gut which means I'm going to have to do the work.

If not, I think for a bit, then blow it off.

Wait, maybe that was too much honesty.

Graham Brown said...

Terry - you're your own editor - does that mean you have to fight with yourself?

Graham Brown said...

Becky - too much is never enough, even with honesty. There have been certain small things my editors asked me to change and I just didn't and they never mentioned them on the next read through - so apparently blowing things off can be a legitimate work strategy.

Terry Stonecrop said...

Haha. I guess. The beauty of fighting with yourself is, you always win!

Kelli Stanley said...

Graham, that brought back some great memories of watching the "Thriller in Manila" and other assorted Ali boxing matches when I was little ... I could still hear Cosell's voice! ;)

Whatever you're doing--muddling, fighting, or whatever you wanna call it--just keep doing it, buddy, 'cause it's working!!! :)

Shane Gericke said...

I adored Cosell as a kid. Wrote to him after his book came out, praising the snot out of it--cause I did like it so much--in hopes he might write back. He did not. At that moment I decided he was an egotistical assholian poseur and never watched him again. And that his toupee was silly.

Which is why I write back to every single reader who writes me.

Cause I don't want them to hate my toupee. Especially since I don't have one.

Graham Brown said...

Hey Kelli, - isn't it funny how a persons voice can be so distinctive it can bring you back to a time and place. I guess to a lesser extent that's what were looking to do as writers.

And you know Shane you're right - I personally respond to everyone who writes me - I hope it is impossible due to volume someday, but in the mean time I'm with you.

Shane Gericke said...

You know, I can just see Barbara saying "Do you think you made the best possible story choice in that scene?" Whilst smiling so sweetly the room floods with butterflies and sunshine ...

Shane Gericke said...

Graham, I'm hoping we can someday hire people to be us! Kinda like presidential doubles, except they'll be us on Facebook and stuff, responding to everyone's Plant This Shit on My Farm come-ons with good spirits and hearty backslaps.