Monday, March 5, 2012

The Writer and the Sanguinary Editor

The Writer and the Sanguinary Editor:
When combined well, these two crucial facets of a writer's job can form a great story. Both are essential, however, their opposite objectives make them mortal enemies. For any writer to succeed they must develop, master, and balance the use of each.

This is where you can usually hear me giggle with delight or scream in pain.


When in my Writing Mode, I’ve learned to unlock the prison bars and set my mind free to imagine whatever I want, to suspend reality, to believe the unbelievable, and to scatter words about like falling leaves in Autumn. I am always impressed with my beautiful writing style, perfect pacing, and deeply moving characterizations. At this point I’m sure that I’ve just written the Greatest Story Ever Told, OR, MAYBE NOT!

Now it’s time to switch to Sanguinary Editor Mode.


I use the term sanguinary because when editing my work I often highlight in red everything that needs changing. The result is a manuscript that appears to be bleeding. It’s not only the written word that suffers the wounds. I personally feel each slash. Because I know ahead of time just how painful this part of the process is you can imagine how I procrastinate.

I know what you’re thinking. I should quit being such a crybaby and just get on with it. Easier said than done! Sometimes I become emotionally attached to specific words, phrases, or lines. Letting go of these becomes a tug-of-war. Not to mention slashing a whole scene or beating up my favorite character. But every good read must have its own unique rhythm, much like a heartbeat. The reading must flow easily. Every disruptive phrase must be sliced away. Every lengthy description must be tightened. Every sentence of dialog must advance the story. Every author intrusion must disappear. Etc.

What is your opinion?


  1. Ode to the "comma-tose "author LOL

  2. Hello Friend,
    You're so right! It takes a wheelbarrow to get rid of all the extra commas I sprinkle around. Hope you'll have time to test read this work when it's finished and help me catch all those sneaky little critters.

  3. lol my problem is overusing certain words. For some reason "undulating" and "burning" are my bad ones. They're in every paragraph!! lol

  4. A painful, but necessary blog. You are much crueler than I am - highlight in red?
    I think the biggest problem is being too close to the work and that is where the critique partners come in very handy. Then, of course, down the line the REAL edits being with the publishing editor.
    Painful does not describe it.