Friday, September 3, 2010

Seven Stages of Editing Grief



We've all been there--had a meltdown because a story we wrote and loved has been torn apart by an editor.  Karen McGrath, an editor and writer, has described this process as the "Seven Stages of Editing Grief."  She usually tells her authors they'll go through the stages of editing grief and not to feel bad if they do. 

She also stresses to them that her goal is to fix any editing issue while preserving their unique voice, and if at any time they feel she hasn't done that, they should let her know so she can remedy it.  Here they are for your enjoyment!

1. Denial - "That editor doesn't know what she's talking about.  My manuscript was fine 'til she got hold of it." 

2. Pain & Guilt - "I can't believe this is such a mess.  If only I used that word there, I wouldn't be stung by that stupid red pen." 

3. Anger - "What the *%$&# does that chick think she's doing?  Does she even know how to write?" 

4. Depression - "Why did the publisher ever send me a contract?  I should have been an architect." 

5. Acquiesence - "Well, maybe I should look at this and see what she has to say.  I mean, she's supposed to fix things, right?  How bad can it be?" 

6. Reconstruction - "Hey, this is fairly decent, in fact some of these changes make the story stand out a little better than before." 

7.  Hope - "Wow, this is pretty cool.  I wonder what else I can fix to make it more compelling?!"

Now, here's a little about Karen's own writing:

Patchwork Path, Christmas Stocking  (memoir)

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Choice Publishing Group, LLC
Release Date: September 2010
Price: $15.95
ISBN: 978-0-9816643-7-8
Choice Publishing Group is proud to present Patchwork Path: Christmas Stocking with a selection of heartwarming, charming, funny, and inspirational holiday stories from forty-one American authors.
http://patchworkpath.com/index.php/patchwork-path-books/23-patchwork-path-christmas-stocking

Primordial Sun, the Heart of the Amazon from MuseItUp Publishing,
A paranormal romantic mystery novel releasing April 2011
Attorney Kylie Watson returns to Brazil to mourn her missionary parents where she's swept into the Amazon's current with vivid nightmares, family secrets, church corruption and international espionage.

Do you want the truth, or something you can live with?
Love in the Time of Mortals from MuseItUp Publishing
A paranormal romance short story for Muse Summer Romances releasing August, 2011.
Lucille Lamphere checks into her Caribbean hotel hideaway for her annual memorial to her husband who drowned on their honeymoon years ago.  This year, fate has another surprise...
Sometimes love slips through your fingers only to return like waves on the sea.

 
Karen McGrath lives in Boston, MA with her husband, their two teens, and Kitten. They are all writers including Kitten, who makes hieroglyphics on the kitchen counter with pilfered sugar from the sugar bowl. Karen is an author and content editor for MuseItUp Publishing. She writes novels, short stories and memoir. www.karenmcgrathauthor.com

32 comments:

  1. Yep. All those stages apply and I'm so glad when I reach the last one.

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  2. Hi Lee, Glad you liked the list, and I agree. I think we all breathe a sigh of relief when we hit #7.

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  3. Can I admit I never get past #1? Ego, pure and simple! But I love my editor and trust her judgment, so I make every change like a good little author and my books are selling better and better all the time, the more I work with her. There has to be a moral there somewhere. Great article! Thanks.

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  4. I love the list. As an editor and an author, I sit on both sides of that fence...and feel the sting of each. But we're all trying to do the best we can, and hope we can see each other's side of things.

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  5. Oh my gosh...I went through all of those after my last short story sold! It's nice to know you're not really weird.

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  6. Miriam, I think we've all been stuck on #1 at some time or other. Thanks for stopping by.

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  7. Kate, Karen and I are both in that position as well. I agree with your comment completely.

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  8. I'm glad when I reach the last one, too! I usually get half way through the list before I realize it's just the stages and it will eventually pass.

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  9. M.L., trust me, you're neither alone nor weird.

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  10. Karen, wonderful list. I am now preparing myself...grin.

    Sara

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  11. I've been through all these stages. While going through a paranormal romance, I realized that I'm a pretty good writer. *Ducks away from the swat from two friends and my sister* OK OK I'm a really good writer!

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  12. Karen, you and Penny did such a good job as editor that I honestly never felt this way at all.

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  13. I like number four. Fits me to a tee. Well...maybe they all do at some point.
    Thanks for sharing.

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  14. I think all writers go through these stages and for what it's worth I think the best editors suggest, rather than change. They write things like: "Show me what's happening, don't tell me, because the reader needs to see what's going on here, and use more dialogue to help the reader learn about your characters." Use an active verb here, rather than passive." So forth and so on.

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  15. The first time I edited a post my husband wrote, he didn't speak to me for a week! Well, not exactly that long...but close enough. Now he knows the stages and waits for them to progress and eventually appreciates the edit even if he haggles over commas. ;) We all go through these stages.

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  16. Shay, it's hard to admit, but I do think almost all of us have gone through all the stages. Glad to hear you can accept you're a "really good writer."

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  17. Aw shucks, Debra (shuffling feet). Thank you for the kind words. It helps to have a wonderful author on the other end.

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  18. Lorrie, glad you found the list useful.

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  19. Sandy, thanks for sharing your thoughts. You're right. Good editors will suggest, but sometimes they need to suggest more strongly than at other times.

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  20. Wow, Karen, he certainly took that personally. It's a good thing most writers can be a tad more understanding :-)

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  21. Great list, Karen! As an editor I sometimes have to say to an author that they have to rewrite whole paragraphs. The author with whom I am working at the moment probably went through all those steps before he changed everything I wanted and told me he thought the work was better with my changes.:) Those are words an editor wants to hear!!

    As an author I have been in critique groups where I have gone through all of those steps on the list. I admit it's much harder being on the other side. I have not yet had to deal with an editor doing that to my work.

    Penny, thank you for having someone from the other side who understands what an author might be going through.:)

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  22. Interesting list of the different stages of editing grief. Thanks for sharing it. Have a great day!

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  23. Barbara, thanks for stopping by. It's wonderful to hear from someone who sits on both sides.

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  24. Susanne, you're welcome. Glad you found it interesting.

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  25. Oh Debra, **blushing**

    You are a rare and lovely author and friend! :)

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  26. Penny, my husband is dyslexic so he feels clueless on some things. That's something I didn't account for in the stages, that out of control feeling. I know I've felt blind at times but the truth is you can't find everything. That's why we have editors. :)

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  27. Karen, I'm with you. I'm always amazed at what I can see in other people's writing, that I can't see in my own :-)

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  28. Thanks for your comments everyone. :)

    If you're interested, I'm doing a one day editing workshop at the Muse Online Writer's Conference in October.

    If you haven't registered for the conference yet, the link is on Penny's sidebar here. Late registration closes this Friday. The conference is free but the late fee is five dollars. The name of the workshop is "Sacrificing Your Novel to the Editor Gods?"

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  29. Karen, thanks for letting everyone know about your workshop at the wonderful MuseItUp Online Conference next month.

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  30. I had an editor who requested some changes that I thought were just arbitrary. He wanted "inquired" where I'd used "asked," as an example. To my eye, some of his suggestions didn't improve the text at all. But since I wanted to get paid, I made the changes -- after ranting and raging around the house for a few minutes or so.

    sigh. You can't please everyone.

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  31. Anonymous, in the best of all worlds, you and your editor should be able to reach a compromise which turns your work into the best writing possible. You are correct,you can't please everyone. In fact, I would prefer asked, myself :-)

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  32. I agree, "asked" is better.

    Most editors try not to impose their writing style on their authors/clients. It helps being an author as well, because I'm sensitive to my client's voice and do everything I can to preserve it.

    It's too bad you had to give in like that, Anonymous. Ultimately it's your work and you should have the final say.

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