Where’s An Editor When You Really Need One?

A Los Angeles Times reporter, Steven Zeitchik, wrote a piece published today about a movie director named Neil Burger. In the article, Zeitchik said:

“… the 48-year-old director radiates a calm that comes from going through the Hollywood ringer.”

Can we say “homophone”?

That’s “wringer” – as in wringer washing machine, the old-fashioned kind. (Google has some excellent photos. Take a look here.) The implication of the expression is that Neil Burger endured a squeezing process that miraculously didn’t drain him completely, and he now radiates the calm of the survivor.

I tried to alert Zeitchik via the LATimes’s readers’ comments page. Alas, it wouldn’t let me post, so the error’s still there, large as life. Larger, actually, since it’s on the internet, thus immortal.

Speaking of immortals – and editing, which editors at many publishing houses apparently do little of these days, as they prefer making deals for the books they’ll publish which will contain multiple errors – let’s talk the Twilight series for a moment. Wouldn’t you think someone would clue in that these books were written for teenagers (their mothers glommed onto the story later), and that it might therefore be a stellar idea to make the writing error-free? So as to, like, influence said teens to improve their own writing?

In Twilight land – I’m not even going to discuss all the sighs and smirks that appear there, though her laptop should have been pried from Stephenie Meyer’s fingers when she exceeded the three-per-page limit (yes, she did, and often) – a “brace” of something doesn’t mean two, it means several. (People, brace means a pair.) Snowflakes don’t have six points. (Check out Breaking Dawn, where the odd-shaped snowflakes must fall from an alternate universe.) People “reign” in their emotions, instead of reining them in. And so on.

We’ve seen this before in, for example, Dan Brown’s work. It’s not unusual. But it’s way too common.

Just as it behooves schools to be error-free in what they write (modeling! the teachable moment!), it’s also incumbent on those who write for children or teens to do the best possible job to eliminate typos and mistakes and incomprehensible “did I write that?”

Some publishing houses won’t do it. They’d rather rush inferior work through the process. Therefore it’s up to the author to hire her own pre-submission editor to make sure her work is, not as good as she would like, but better.

That’s another blog post. Later!



Filed under Books, Musings, Writing

2 responses to “Where’s An Editor When You Really Need One?

  1. Yeah, but if I have to pay for my own editor, my own publicity, etc…might as well just self publish. >.<

  2. It’s really about R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Do we as writers respect our characters and our work enough to polish it? Do we have enough respect for our readers? Which boils down to: do we respect ourselves?

    Stephenie Meyer was extraordinarily lucky to get Twilight and its children published, but even she knew they weren’t as good as they could be. (Her defense: it’s a story. Which is fine if you’re relating a story in the oral tradition – which has looser caveats – but indefensible if you’re a writer, because writing has defined rules.) If you read Twilight (published in hardback in 2005), then compare it to Meyer’s The Host (2010), you’ll notice that the writing is vastly dissimilar. My guess? Meyer hired an editor.

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