Saturday, 26 July 2008

it's a big storm. Or, a storm that is big

Here's an inter-island ferry attempting to get itself out of Wellington harbour. This sort of thing is exactly why I’ve spent a Very Long Time sitting in Rotorua airport, comatose and cracked out on Gravol, waiting for Wellington airport to open long enough for the actual landing of one or two planes. Welly is a weather blackspot, and to have any sort of transportation therein or thereout, besides walking, is a ridiculous proposal. The ferry and the planes are cancelled more than they run. The attitude of the pilot towards our flight there, in the end, was more or less ‘let’s give it a whirl and see what happens, and if we end up in Palmerston North, well, them’s the breaks. Hold tight!’

I just finished reading a book, and I think I was disappointed by the editing. There was one place with pointless repetition that didn’t appear intentional, didn’t help, and just felt sloppy and annoying and as if it should’ve been caught by someone before it got to print. A childhood ‘rite of initiation’ is described. It becomes an ‘unwritten rule’ in a game. Then, the rite of initiation is described. It’s mentioned that it became, so to speak, an unwritten rule. And then we’re told that it was a rite of initiation.

I suppose, in 90,000 words or so, we’d all have a tendency to repeat ourselves. Or, to put it another way, in writing a book of approximately 90,000 words, we might tend towards repetition. But isn’t that a crackerjack good reason for having an editor? Isn’t it her job to don the ruthless cardigan of clarity and mention that you appear to have left in your final draft the two different versions of the same bit, of which you were intending to delete one and forgot? I’d go so far as to call that something of an unwritten rule.

It’s not a big deal. But if I were the author, I’d be annoyed with myself and my editor for not picking it up, and for me as a reader, it stood out enough from the rest of the otherwise jolly good story that it broke up the flow of reading and made me feel sort of cross and impatient.

How about you? Ever read a book you thought would’ve benefitted from the editor not working on it at the end of a long week while sitting in front of The Rich List?

1 comment:

Allison Fairbairn said...

I think the award for unneccessary repetition in a really long novel has to go to Stephenie Meyer for Twilight. Did she have an editor?

Also, the new trend in Saskabatoon is to drop your editor because you're too good to be edited. Always a good way to maintain readership.