Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pop Quiz: What do you do??

Pop Quiz: Your editor sends your 550-word piece back to you. It's now 410 words, and in your view, considerably "mangled." Instead of being better for the edit, it has new rough edges that weren't there before. What do you do?

Shaving off word count is not something writers always get to be the ones to do. If there are true rough spots, I point them out. "It appears to need a comma HERE" and "It looks like the 'and' that got edited out may need to stay in." I have done this a couple times because busy editors doing the trimming may themselves leave "rough spots."

However, if it's something fairly arbitrary or just based on your preference (say you like the word 'huge' better than the word 'large') get over it -- it's the editor's discretion, and they're writing for their ears, not yours.

With a little luck, you will learn to write with that editor's ear in mind and have a long and fruitful relationship. To get there, calling into question their general judgment won't help. I wrote for a nursing publication, and regretted what had to be done to my copy to make it conform to their style. C'est la vie. They were fabulous otherwise. This has happened a couple times -- welcome to ze big leagues.

If you withdraw an edited piece prior to publication, it should be because it's really horrible and will completely embarrass you as a writer.

As another writer pointed out recently, once you've done enough work (for this publication and others) you won't mind the loss of the clip and can leave it out of your portfolio if it really sticks in your craw.

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