Category Archives: Editor/Writer Relationship

‘Editification’ and delight – The Goddess of the Devil.

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Most writers tend to want their editors to remain, if not invisible, at least fairly well-hidden.  Some, but not all, do give an acknowledgement in the front matter.  Some don’t.  They want it to be assumed that no hand has muddied the pristine waters of their genius.

If authors do mention that their book is in the course of being edited, they hardly ever say by whom, so unless they do the editor is also obliged to keep mum on the subject.

Also, the editor has to be aware of the confidentiality of the relationship.  If it is known what books are being worked on, any general remarks on writing faults may be assumed as having arisen from the current project.

It is refreshing, therefore, that I have received full permission from the multi-talented Mart Sander (link is to the Wiki page on him)  to blog my appraisal of his latest novel, now undergoing an edit of the final section.  He may, of course, have been influenced by the fact that it isn’t exactly uncomplimentary!  🙂

The Goddess of the Devil
by
Mart Sander

Editor’s Appraisal 

Maria Orsic (Metapedia)Few novels I have edited – or, indeed, read – have gripped my attention and imagination to the extent this one has succeeded in doing.  The main protagonist, Maria Orsic (Orschitsch), actually existed and was an exceptionally beautiful woman, with blonde hair to her ankles, whose mediumistic talents were acknowledged even by sceptics.  Her association with the famous and the infamous of the Nazi era, and the influence of her ‘Vril’ group of clairvoyants and mediums upon them, had an undoubted effect on the events of that time.  How much so, is one of many fields explored in the novel.

From her first meeting with two anonymous men, the book leaves no doubt regarding the reality of her abilities in esoteric matters.  The limitations in her talents, though, provide a source of suspense and frustration for the reader throughout.

The identities of her callers are revealed towards the end of the first chapter in a way which gives an early indication of the author’s skill in dropping bombshells in a casual way.  That particular one is effective even if expected, but most of the other (many) surprises arrive as a total shock.  Every time the reader is lulled into a sense of having a good idea where events are being taken, further ingenious twists come in.

Particularly skilful blending of recorded history, vouched-for and documented facts, well-founded speculation, and imaginative invention, provides another thing which sets this novel apart.  Actual characters and events were so amazing that it becomes almost impossible to know where fiction starts coming in.  One is easily able to verify, for example, that Hitler claimed to have been at the mercy of a British soldier, Henry Tand(e)y, VC, who could have shot him but waved him on.  Though disputed, this seems to be true.  Then, ‘Indiana Jones’ prototype, Chapman Andrews, also existed and was as flamboyant as depicted.  As yet another instance we have the Roerich expedition which ‘vanished’ for a year – again, this is recorded.

In essence, the novel follows Maria through her earlier days in Vienna to all the events and experiences beginning with her fateful interview in Munich and the ‘messages’ she received in Bechtesgarten in 1919, and her participation in a 1927 Tibetan expedition, through to the events which preceded, and unfolded during, the Second World War.  Adventure, romance and mystery are interwoven with the progression of all the momentous happenings of that incredible time in history, leaving the reader breathlessly eager to reach the outcome.

This outcome is not rushed.  It would have been a mistake, in my opinion, to do so.  The impact lies in all that has gone before; to try and condense or prune would not be wise even though the length of the novel is well over that which publishers traditionally look for from a writer not yet established.  One could, perhaps, try to dispense with sections which show the progression of a normal, rational nation into a unity which became associated with pure evil.  However, the insights into how the fascination with fascism, and reverence for Hitler, crept insidiously into the psyche of the ordinary German man and woman is part of what lifts this novel far above the normal run.

It is my belief that this book has definite potential to become a best-seller.  The most difficult part will be how to categorise it.  Historical ‘faction’?   Supernatural?  Adventure?  Romance?  Science fiction?  Fantasy?  It has all these elements in it, and more.  As is appropriate for a writer who is also a musician, Mart Sander has orchestrated them all perfectly into a symphony of epic proportions.

 

Leslie Hyla Winton Noble 

September, 2014.

Editor and Writer – a Hate-Hate Relationship?

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Advice to authors and editors:

You are a writer.  You have produced your masterpiece.  Now your publisher or someone else suggests it needs to be professionally edited.

Immediately, your hackles rise.  You don’t need editing.  You have gone over the manuscript yourself, numerous times, and it is perfect.

Finally, kicking and screaming, you submit.  The first results return and you find that you have missed any number of spellcheck-proof errors of the ‘to/too’ variety as well as many wonky punctuation points.  Are you grateful?  Not exactly.  ‘I would have picked all of those up on one more read,’ you grumble.

Then you see a comma inserted somewhere and you don’t like it.  The editor points out that without it the sentence has a different meaning.  You don’t see it that way.  One of you capitulates, but only after many mutterings.

Now comes the ultimate insult – it is suggested that a sentence, paragraph, or passage be reworded.  A total tantrum is immediately indicated.  You suggest that the editor do some rather physically impossible things to him/herself, and you storm off to bed.  The following day, you concede that there may be a point.  A week later, you decide the rewrite is a great improvement.

Or, after reading your impassioned argument in defense, the editor comes back to you and says, ‘Oh, I see your point; much better to leave it as is.’  Replies like that do make one feel a lot better about the whole process, but there has still been a mutual rise in blood pressure.

Now we look at the editor.  He/she/it starts off happily, jabbing away at correcting the obvious stuff, and enjoying the tale.  Suddenly a screeching halt is reached.  ‘What the blanketty-blank is meant here?’ comes the anguished cry.  After some mental gymnastics, a revised wording is suggested.  The writer replies acidly, pointing out that had you read a little further on you would have seen exactly why that wording was essential or, quoting sources, why it is correct.  Now the (infallible, of course) editor is discomforted and not amused, instead of simply being glad that the point has been cleared up.

In another scenario, the editor is convinced that something is spoiling the story, but the writer refuses to budge and does not give any convincing argument for the refusal.  Capitulate, or stick to guns?  In these circumstances, the editor must persevere, and if overruled must make it clear that this is under protest.

I have been in the unique situation over the past few weeks of alternating between both of these roles.  I am professionally editing two novels, and having my own latest one undergo the same process.  In my ‘author’ role, I have had to learn to ignore my first reaction of, ‘How dare you criticize this?’ and take a deep breath followed by a long hard look.  It was painful, for example, to delete a section of brilliant wordplay (well, I still think it was) when the editor pointed out that it breaks the action in the passage in question, but if one has to concede that’s actually what it did, then that’s what had to be done!

Then, in my editor role, I have to remember my own reactions to any crit, take another deep breath, and use lots of patience in getting the point/s across.

It is clear that the relationship between editor and writer has to be approached as a partnership, with the greatest sympathy and understanding on both sides.  Subjectivity must be replaced with objectivity, and passion with reason.

Bottom line, at the end of the day, when all is said and done, and in the final analysis, an editor must be able to accept that even clichés can have their place – and the writer to acknowledge when they are overdone!

© September 2014 Leslie Hyla Winton Noble  (first appearing in Colonialist Blog, June 2014) (WordPress)