Top ten editor rants - number 2

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This is number 2. I know you've been waiting for it.

Submitted: August 13, 2018

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Submitted: August 12, 2018

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Julian - Hey there Make sure you read this. I'm going to do something nasty to you. Deliberately. I won't enjoy it, so that doesn't count as masochistic on my part. In fact doing this when I am an editor runs a wire brush across my OCD soul. If you've read up to here you can probably guess what it is. This part of the text has no layout, or structure. Annoying isn't it? So guess what we are talking about? Yup, layout and comprehension. I know that many people might not reach this far of this small wall of text. Because it is offputting. Because your eyes see the wall and your brain groans and says "Do I have to? You'd better feed me beer after this." When something does not have proper structure it makes it harder to comprehend. So readers tend to start skipping.

Julian - Okay that is enough of that nonsense. I need to stop before I damage my brain permanently.

 

Client - What are you doing?

Julian - Trying to give you advice.

Client - What was that bit about masochism?

Julian - Mind out of the gutter please, it will all become clear in time.

Client - Ooh mysterious. I'll shut up then.

 

Julian - Ahem. Layout? Story Structure? Not the sexiest editorial rant, but, I said when I started these articles I'd tell you about the top ten writer issues in no particular order. So here's the business. HOW do you layout/structure correctly?

And here is the dilemma. It is subjective. There is no standardization, so in a creative work the placement of paragraphs and sentences is largely up to the author and editors.

 

Client - So you're about as useful as an extra nipple?

Julian - Hey!

Client - Sorry. Shutting up now.

 

Julian - Ahem, I'm going to talk about how I edit word walls into something approaching readable prose. Is mine the only way? No. Do my clients like it? I said, do my clients like it?

 

Client - Do I have to answer that?

Julian - Yes That's why I brought you in here.

Client - Yeah, it's pretty good.

 

Julian - Right. After that glowing recommendation, have you heard of MRU's? (Motivation Reaction Units) This is the closest thing to standardization for story structure that we have. Now if you plug that into google you'll get a bunch of blog posts that explain it, with examples, in varying levels of quality from confusing to my dog could understand it. 

 

Client - Are you calling me dumber than a dog?

Julian - I will not dignify that with an answer.

Client - Dickhead.

 

Julian - I'll continue. I like Dwight Swains theory. Enough that I use it and I will even link to his book [url]https://www.amazon.com.au/Techniques-Selling-Writer-Dwight-Swain/dp/0806111917[/url]

Now I'm NOT going to show you how to incorporate MRU's into your story. If you are curious, google is your friend. There is plenty of info out there. Have fun honing your craft.

What I AM going to show you is how to format the wall of text at the top.

 

Client - Why? I was in pain the first time I read that.

Julian - That's the point of it.

Client - So you ARE a masochist, I knew it.

Julian - *rolls eyes*

Because MRU's work really well when there is a character that has a motivation, and a reaction, and then things get fuzzy if there is lots of description or exposition. Not that we should as authors be doing LOTS of it, but let's face it, some people want to read (and write) "The blue mountains were crowned by delicate bridal veils of snow in the crisp air."... and some readers (and writers), want to know every hue, fold of rock, species of tree, what it smells like etcetera.

 

Client - You mean like how some people love Tolkien, and others get bored with it?

Julian - Exactly.

Client - And then the fans start a flame war, and then someone gets butthurt and it all ends in tears?

Julian - delicious tears

 

Julian - Ahem. Oh yes subjective. But it would be a boring world if we were all the same.

So when I ask an author, why'd you put a paragraph right there in that exposition/description/infodump/whatever, generally I get back.

 

Client - It felt right.

Julian - Cue the facepalm.

Client - That's just rude.

 

Julian - Ready to do this thing? Take a deep breath. And then read that wall of text aloud. (make sure you pause for comma's and periods) When you feel your lungs about to stage a revolt, put a paragraph in. 

 

Client - Hey there! Make sure you read this. I'm going to do something nasty to you. Deliberately. I won't enjoy it, so that doesn't count as masochistic on my part.

Julian - Pitiful effort, you have the physical fitness of a slug.

Client - Bite.....me..... So...did it work? Is that all there is to it?

Julian - Hmm. Let's see. Reasonable amount of words so we don't have an orphan or widow? Check. Does it feel like a natural stopping point? Umm. not really.

Client - But it could work right?

Julian - Don't, just, don't okay?

Client - WHAT ARE YOU DOING SHOWING ME SOMETHING THAT DOESN"T WORK?

Julian - Because if you can understand why it didn't work you'll figure out how it should work. You may have the lung capacity of a four year old, but I have zen levels of cunning. You didn't REALLY think it would be as simple as take a deep breath did you?

Client - Masochistic bastard razza frazza.

Julian - So let's add a bit more. Someone with a healthy lung size. Like me.

Julian - Hey there Make sure you read this. I'm going to do something nasty to you. Deliberately. I won't enjoy it, so that doesn't count as masochistic on my part. In fact doing this when I am an editor runs a wire brush across my OCD soul. If you've read up to here you can probably guess what it is. 

Client - Nice finger pistols. I'm sure the ladies loved that cheesy grin.

Julian - What do you think? Did it work?

Client - Umm, yeah I think so, but I don't know why.

Julian - Here cometh the subjectivity! Some people will look at that and say. It's fine. Some would look at that say, it's a bit long.

Client - Sonova- spill Julian before I crush you like the evil masochist you are!!!

Julian - Pfft! With your fitness level? Fine. You have to look at the content.

Client - Whaa? Oh that sounds like hard work. Can't I just pay you to do it for me?

Julian - Well of course you can, I'll just charge you more for wasting my valuable time.

Client - So, content you say?

Julian - Yup. You know what a hook and a break is right?

Client - Yeah a hook is somthing you put at the beginning of a book, chapter or scene to encourage the reader, like a self reflective question or a short dynamic sentence. A break is something that encourages to the reader to find out more. A tense bit of action, or an unanswered question again.

Julian - ""

Client - What?

Julian - You do pay attention to me.

Client - If you start crying I'm walking out.

Julian - Ahem. Yes, you got it right, so If you look at that bit of text, can you see where the break is?

Client - Is it the bit about your soul?

Julian - Why?

Client  - Because the next sentence is a leading question, look.

Hey there! Make sure you read this. I'm going to do something nasty to you. Deliberately. I won't enjoy it, so that doesn't count as masochistic on my part. In fact doing this when I am an editor runs a wire brush across my OCD soul.

If you've read up to here you can probably guess what it is. 

Julian - I feel so proud of you right now.

Client - I'm just going to try that and see what happens.

Hey there! Make sure you read this. I'm going to do something nasty to you. Deliberately. I won't enjoy it, so that doesn't count as masochistic on my part. In fact doing this when I am an editor runs a wire brush across my OCD soul. 

If you've read up to here you can probably guess what it is. This part of the text has no layout.

Annoying isn't it?

No layout here, so guess what we are talking about. Yup, layout and comprehension. I know that many people might not reach this far of this small wall of text.

Because it is offputting. Because your eyes see the wall and your brain groans and says "Do I have to? You'd better feed me beer after this." When something does not have proper layout it makes it harder to comprehend. So readers tend to start skipping.

Client - wow, that actually worked prettty well.

Julian - Why'd you put a paragraph between text and because?

Client - The question is implied. It's silent.

Julian - So proud, so proud.

Client - Are we done?

Julian - Yes, I need to go dry my eyes.

Client - I want my dignity back.

 

 

 


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