Sunday, April 26, 2015

Editing Epitaph

Writing websites, writing classes, writing articles all have one thing in common. They don't know what the hell they're  talking about.  You need to remove ten percent. You need to remove twenty percent. You can't use attributives. So, you listen to all this crap and you end up with a sterile story that no one wants to read.  Grammar and style are rules of the road.  But, alas, many editors use their power over the writer to bludgeon that story into something entirely different than what the writer wanted.  They do it every day.  So, what's the balance?  Hell, I don't know.  But there are a lot of editors mangling stories out there for no good reason other than they can.  

Since I have had a disastrous past year, it hasn't been much of a problem for me, personally. At least, not lately because I'm not getting much published. But, when my first novel was going through the editing process, I got quite angry over the process.  In particular, one sentence. of that process. The Two Devils  has a chapter where our hero, Miles O'Malley, is in Tombstone, Arizona. He's reading the Epitaph.  I believe the Epitaph is the best name for a newspaper in the history of the world.  So, the editor changed it to reading the newspaper and removed the name of the paper completely.  So, it was changed to a less precise term because some dumbshit somewhere out there might not know what the word meant.  Well, my view was if they didn't understand the sentence fuck them and let them die. Another thing that pissed me off with this change was there were two papers in the area at the time and the fact Miles was reading the Epitaph, which was a republican newspaper [most papers were partisan back then] was significant as only the Epitaph railed against Sheriff John Behan. The other paper, which was democratic, didn't seem so displeased with him.  So, my story was forcibly changed to give it less precise meaning and there was nothing I could do about it. And ten years later I'm still bitter about that one sentence.  

Next month is the ten year anniversary of that book's publication.  I may rail more on this book next week.  I got hosed big time by the publisher.  But it's the removal of that one word that has chafed at me for the past decade. 



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