The author’s editing process by Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape
Sue writes: My first thought: ‘There is no process, it happens organically.’ But that’s rather glib and, actually, things that I think are instinctive are part of a learned process dating from my early years as a journalist.
In those days, reporters kept a carbon copy of everything they wrote while the top copy went to the news editor and then to the subs. When the paper came out I compared what I’d written with the published version and took note of the corrections.
The lessons I learned about clean writing, good punctuation and grammar, and avoiding repetition have stayed with me.
When I wrote A Falling Friend with Susan, we agreed a rough plot outline – but this changed as the book developed and as characters behaved in unexpected ways. We didn’t edit or re-write each other’s copy (apart from typos) because it was important that we maintained separate voices so readers could distinguish between the two main characters.
Susan writes: I’m probably a more spontaneous writer than Sue. On good days, I sit at the pc and words flow at a lightning pace. Sometimes, my sentences are a stream of consciousness and I’m criticised for writing long paragraphs with little punctuation. While I think that’s OK, so long as everything is grammatically correct, some readers don’t like it, so I’ve learned to curtail my style. Sue’s slower in her writing, but wiser, and likes to sit on her chapters for a few days to think about things.
Sue writes: We had tremendous feedback from our editors Kate and Rebecca. There was a lot of gnashing of teeth at first because some of the journalism conventions, such as how we attributed quotes ‘…said Teri’ which is what we’d write as journalists, fell foul of our grammatically correct editors who preferred ‘…Teri said’.
But their support and constructive criticism was invaluable and has made A Falling Friend a much better book.
We both agree on these tips for clean writing:
Keep language plain and simple.
Never use a long word where a short one will do.
Don’t try and find alternatives for ‘said’.
Keep sentences active rather than passive: the man bit the dog, rather than the man was bitten by the dog.
Avoid adverbs, adjectives and clichés like the plague.
Write – read it – leave it – read it – edit it. In other words, write a chapter, go have a cup of tea, come back and read what you’ve written. With a fresh eye you’ll spot the clunks.
And when you’re 100 per cent satisfied, find yourself a good editor!
About the Book
Author: Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape
Genre: Women’s Fiction
After spending her twenties sailing the globe, making love on fine white sand, and thinking only of today, Teri Meyer returns to Yorkshire – and to studying. That’s when she discovers John Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester, and poet of all things depraved. What she doesn’t realise is even beyond his grave, his influence over her is extraordinary. To hell with the consequences.
Having gone out on a limb to get old friend Teri a job at the university at which she teaches, it doesn’t take long for Lee Harper to recognise a pattern. Wherever Teri goes, whatever she does, every selfish choice she makes, it’s all setting her up for a nasty fall. But Teri’s not the sort to heed a warning, so Lee has no choice but to stand by and watch. And besides, she has her own life to straighten out.
A clever, raw and hilarious character-driven masterpiece that follows the lives of two friends with the same ambitions, but who have vastly different ways of a achieving them.
More recently they have worked in higher education, teaching journalism to undergraduate and postgraduate students – Sue at Sheffield Hallam and Susan at Leeds Trinity.
The pair, who have been friends for 25 years, have already written two successful journalism text books together – Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction; and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction.
Sue, who is married with two grown-up daughters, loves reading, writing and exploring the cycle paths near her Yorkshire home. She blogs about books at http://www.pinkbicyclebooks.com
Susan is married and spends her spare time walking and cycling in the Yorkshire Dales and on the east coast, and playing the ukulele.
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