Books I Love · Writing

Still Not Quite Getting It

My eyes have become magnifying glasses! Image via KovacsUr via Wikimedia Commons.

Would you think there is much of a learning curve to edit a book for someone who has a degree in English Literature and teaching experience? I even took special creative writing classes for two years at a magnet high school. But not once was it explained to me to make sure to maintain a character’s point of view, be careful of using “purple prose,” and avoid writing in a passive voice.

I learned a ton when I began working with the editors on Harp Lessons. The knowledge I’ve gained makes me think I might try my hand at working as an editor. When I think about the way my first draft of Harp Lessons read when I first submitted it, I cringe and think how lucky I was that the readers at Astraea Press even saw potential in my story.

So I’ve almost finished the self edits for The Stone of Kings, and it’s easy to think, “This is so much better than the first one. I’ve got this writing thing down. I should start looking into how to handle movie deals.”

Hmm, I think I should start looking for the cold splash of water to shock me into reality.

All this editing has turned me into a different kind of reader and I hope that’s a good thing. But it’s also confusing. I read Michael Scott’s The Alchemyst before I first submitted Harp Lessons. Loved. It. It’s a wonderful modern adventure story with a blending of history and mythology. But I’m currently reading it through a second time and I’m editing as I go along.

Why is that?!

I never noticed the head hopping with point of view, or all the passive voice in that book before. And yet, The Achemyst is currently in a movie deal. Why is it that Mr. Scott could get away with it? Is it because it’s just that great a story (and it really is in my opinion) that it’s easy for a reader to overlook those faults? Is it because he’s got so much writing under his belt (since the ’80s), he’s figured out the secret to getting away with it? The trouble is, that it sets a bad example for us “newbie” authors who are trying to avoid those pitfalls in mechanics of the craft.

Do you have the secret of why a more experienced author can break the “writing rules?” What writing mechanics bother you when you read?

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