Even though I'm a freelancer, writing and editing is my job. I enjoy doing both, which makes it great job. Like many jobs, however, it comes with ups and downs, things I like and things I dislike. After all, ain't nothin' perfect.
Part of my job concerns networking and marketing myself as open for business and as an author. Some of that is accomplished on Facebook where hordes of other authors attempt to convince people to buy their books. (I'm no different.) Many post excerpts of their work. A well-written, intriguing excerpt piques curiosity and interest. A poorly written excerpt backfires.
Once in a great while, I contact the author with a private message to alert him or her as to the easily fixed errors in the content posted. After all, if you want to sell your book, then posting an excerpt riddled with mistakes gives a poor impression. Only once have I received a response from an author thanking me. Once, the author made the corrections, but didn't acknowledge the error. Frankly, I'd hope that someone noticing errors in my posted excerpts--there will be errors because I'm not perfect--will alert me to them so they can be fixed.
Since editing is how I make my living, I'm particularly sensitive to the use of language. Frankly, I prefer editing fiction to nonfiction, because who doesn't like a story? Not everything must be straightforward and blunt. Brevity and passive voice have their places and uses, as do allusion, allegory, and alliteration. Hah! I appreciate the poetic and lyrical as much as the staccato syllables of succinct and direct prose. My heart goes pitter-patter when an author makes language sing.
However, we don't always get to do what we want, when we want, how we want, where we want, or with whom we want. To wit, I'm working on editing a manual. It's over 90,000 words of a topic that doesn't interest me in the least. The tone is dry, and I cannot figure out how to convert the pervasive passive voice to active voice without changing the point of view from didactic, third person POV to a more concise, conversational, second person POV style. That would require rewriting most of the manual, which they're not paying me to do.
At the other end of the narrative spectrum is an excerpt that appeared in my Facebook feed. It's ... florid. I cannot read that single paragraph, a neon-bright example of purple prose, without taking a break. The excerpt's grammar is excellent, the punctuation spot-on, the language ... that made me shudder. Knowing how that author writes, I would not offer to edit for him, if only because I cannot appreciate his style of prose. To put it simply: we'd clash.
We all have preferences. As editor and writer, I don't work with horror. Yep, my preference. I know what horror does to my impressionable mind, how it takes root and affects my imagination. It ain't pretty or pleasant.
Perhaps that's the best part of freelancing. I do get to indulge in my preferences to some extent. What a luxury!
I edit for a talented young writer, Dominic Brogsdale, who brings the raw, violent, and sometimes beautiful experience of his experiences to the page. He was recently invited to present a public reading of an excerpt of his self-published short story "Evil on Top of Evil." The story, published in two parts, is part of his "Children of Darkness" series, illustrating life in the poorest urban neighborhoods with gritty realism. He decided to read from the second part. Enjoy!
Cover Coming Soon
Excerpt (ARC - Currently in Editing)
Returning to the farm, Melanie slid out of the saddle and led her lathered horse into the barn. Julie met her there as she exchanged bridle for halter and hooked the cross ties to the halter.
“Did you get him?” the teenager asked, tears in her big, brown eyes.
“Yeah, I got him,” Melanie replied as she unfastened the cinch, let the girth hang free, and pulled the saddle and sweat-soaked pad from the mare’s back. She hefted the saddle onto its designated stand. She flipped the wet saddle over and draped it across the saddle to dry. The warm, slightly sour scent of horse sweat wafted upward. She inhaled deeply, the fragrance calming her nerves.
She grabbed a lead and snapped it to the halter under the horse’s chin. Unfastening the cross ties, she led Fizz to the wash rack and picked up the hose.
“Who’s that?” Julia asked, pointing at the tall man silhouetted by the afternoon sun.
Melanie looked up at him and then back at her sister. She clamped a hand over her sister’s shoulder and in a low whisper said, “Get to the house. Now. Tell Daddy another one of those bikers from the rally is here.”
Julie blinked and looked at her, fear widening her eyes.
“Don’t run, Julie. Walk.”
“If he touches you, I’ll run.”
Melanie gave her a small smile and said, “You do that. Get. I’ll talk to the guy about Buster.”
Julie nodded and walked toward the old farmhouse. The biker turned his head to watch her, but made no move to go after her. Melanie turned on the water and directed the cold stream toward the mare’s front hooves. She looked over the horse’s back and called out, “What do you want?”