Latest issue of The Eloquent Orifice!

So, the latest issue of my blood, sweat and tears is now published (psst, check out Volume 5 Issue 2 here), and I’m so happy/relieved/tired I could cry. I literally slaved over this issue. Reviewing, editing, graphic design, admin work. You name any step in the publication/production process, I’ve done it.

Cover and TOC previews:

Brb, going to die from exhaustion+love.

“The H Word”

thedefenders

I just finished binge-watching the Marvel/Netflix mini-series, The Defenders. I sat in bed the whole day, cuddled up with a hot water bottle (Facebook did that whole virtual celebration of spring thingy, but they are sooooo wrong), and watched all eight episodes at a go.

Now, I’ve never paid much mind to what other people think about the Marvel Cinematic Universe—some people think it’s all too vanilla and predictable—but I think it’s fantastic!

It’s wonderful writing, not because I like predictable plots yadah yadah (I really don’t care what people say about it)—the writing is wonderful because it captures my imagination.

And I’m pretty sure I’m not the anomaly, cause every single one of Marvel’s films and TV series in the last 10 years have had such huge success, both commercially and critically.

The reason why The Defenders managed to capture my attention for eight hours straight is because they took their time with plot and character development. There isn’t that Martha sh*t going on (as you can tell, I was severely underwhelmed by DC’s Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice); The Defenders was superbly well thought out in their pacing and plot, connecting dots, bulldozing predictability (as far as a superhero comic can go), and weaving a horrifically dirty, dangerous but real reality around it.

In short, it’s believable. The Defenders has the ability to capture its audience’s attention and imagination, because we can believe in it.

We can believe the personal horrors, trauma, crushed hopes and dreams that each of the characters faces. Everyday characters, but with not-so-everyday abilities. But we can see ourselves, and our friends and neighbours and strangers on the street, in these characters.

We may not all have Claire’s ability to save lives (but our nurses and doctors and paramedics do!), or Daredevil’s otherworldy senses, or Luke Cage’s unbreakable skin (etcetera etcetera, you know where I’m going)—but we can see ourselves in them. Ordinary people, turned extraordinary by circumstance, but still ordinary people with crazy issues. Jessica Jones and her inability to sustain human connection; Misty Knight’s dedication to her passion/job that sees her lose herself (I don’t wanna give away too much); Colleen Wing’s fear of abandonment—these are all real characters, believable characters in a believably violent world (I mean… let’s just take a moment to look around us and try to say our world isn’t violent). The Defenders‘s ability to enthral is its dedication to the writing and plotting—its dedication to its characters by taking the time to flesh them out in earlier character series, and by, really, simply good writing.

Peace out. I need some food.

 

Showdown: Writer vs Editor

source

Some days, that’s my reaction. I’m angrily, frustratedly, despairingly screaming in my head (or sometimes at the loquat tree in the backyard)—NEVER AGAIN!!!

Some days, some editors drive me up the wall with edits that have nothing to do with the writing or the story, but everything to do with personal preference. And then there are those who edit the tone and voice of a piece of work indiscriminately and in the most undiscerning manner, leading to a final result that has an unintended tone or message (which is a disaster—especially if you’re trying to delicately address a sensitive issue).

And on other days, some writers drive me close to tears with badly formatted documents, a piece of writing that has less cohesion than Frankenstein’s patchwork monster, and a refusal to address editorial concerns.

Now, by all means, I’m not hating on either group. I’m both a writer and an editor (my work mostly revolves around editing), so I fully understand the frustrations of both. But perhaps before the writing and editing processes lead to an epic meltdown, we could all do something to make the process easier.

Writers

  1. Make sure the document is formatted correctly. Use the specified font type and size required by the publisher. Or at least make your work readable on Word (not Pages, please. All publishers use Word.). This could not be simpler!
  2. Proofread your own work. Take a couple of days away from it, then pick it up again, and read it aloud. I know, it sounds crazy, reading your piece of writing aloud—to yourself or to anyone who will listen, even the cat. But trust me, it works. When you read it aloud, you will find things you’ve missed—transitions, grammatical errors, incoherence.
  3. Talk to your editor. Listen to/read their editorial queries carefully. Address them all! If your editor has said, “This doesn’t work”, instead of mentally telling them to shove their unhelpful and insight-less comments youknowwhere ignoring the vague and unhelpful question, ask them, “Why doesn’t it work?” Most times, you’ll find that your editor has a great explanation why, and it’ll help make your work better.

Editors (I’m going to keep this really simple.)

  1. Before changing something, ask yourself Why am I changing this? If you don’t know why, leave it.
  2. When changing something, as yourself this: does the edit change the tone or voice of the work? If it does, is that what is required? Is that what is best? Is that necessary?
  3. Do not rewrite the work. That is not your job. If massive rewriting (i.e. more than 5 sentences, imo) is required, the author should do it.
  4. If you’re unclear about the author’s intended meaning, ask—but also suggest edits!

 

Happy writing and editing, everyone!

Writing for different purposes

Being a good writer in a particular genre, on a particular medium, does not necessarily mean that we’re able to transpose that same writing ability and apply it to different media.

To put it in no-nonsense terms… different media require different styles of writing!

While writing an academic/research paper more often than not requires rather long prose (to accommodate all that research and explanations!), writing on digital media platforms require snappy sentences to catch the reader’s attention.

It’s pretty much the epitome of hook, line and sinker.

Digital media aims to get the reader’s attention as quickly, and as best, as possible. And then digital media steps up to reel in the reader with quality content. And the rest, as they’ll know it, is history.

It’s like, one minute you’re just browsing on Twitter, but you stumble upon Ryan Reynold’s hilariously NSFW, snappy tweets, and you’re now suddenly addicted and you wish he’d tweet every other minute.

Personally, I think these 3 quick tips help writers navigate the temperamental waters of digital media:

  1. KISSKeep It Short and Sweet!
  2. Look for the humour in things — Don’t take yourself too seriously!
  3. Watch out for errors — Do a fact/grammar/spelling check before you publish!

Till the next post!

Of course we need editors!

So in response to my previous blog post wondering whether we need editors in this technology-infused world…

YES, WE DO. (As you can also tell from the title of this blog post…)

But why do we need editors when Word has spell-check and most modern phones have auto-correct?

The answer is: this and this.

As we have all experienced, spell check doesn’t catch every mistake either, as multiple news agencies pressed for time have proved:

prince-harry-whales-spelling-error
“Prince Harry, ruler of the most majestic of mammals, whales!” WBAL-TV. Image shared from http://www.goodcontentcompany.com.
usedrugs
“Pretty sure Armstrong has a shady rug use past… All those holes!” CBC News. Image shared from bigjoeonthego.com.
public-spelling-fails-628
“Didn’t know Obama and Osama were one and the same?!” Fox40 News. Image shared from http://www.2dayfm.com.au

So while modern-day technology with the red and green squiggly lines certainly help catch some glaring errors, they don’t pick up on nearly enough. And that’s why we have editors.

Technology is advanced. Technology certainly does make our lives easier. But technology doesn’t understand the nuances and idiosyncrasies of human language.

Instead, it takes the very human eye, and of course, the human brain too, to pick up on things that a machine can’t—things like sarcasm, slang, and sometimes even just downright straightforward grammar!

And if you need more reasons why, here’s a great list-icle from Lifehack about the weird errors found in documents relying only on spell check!

So the next time someone tells you editors are just… useless grammar nazis… (that took a lot out of me, just to type that urgh!) send them here!

Till the next post! 😉 And remember folks, the human eye is better!

On yet another side note…

If you guys were wondering (I may just be overly excited) — here’s where I’m currently doing my Masters degree (in Publishing and Communications, if you were wondering)…

A building at the University of Melbourne, with Gothic architectural features
One of the many gorgeous old buildings with Gothic architecture at the University of Melbourne. (Photo by Pip Wilson, 2008. Flickr Creative Commons.)

The beautiful University of Melbourne.

A few days before the semester began, I decided to wander around on campus, just to get a feel of the school and indulge in that tingly feeling that I’m going to be a student again! feeling. I know, I’m a real nerd.

I arrived on campus, slightly flustered at being slightly lost — but whatever Omg, I’m never ever going to find my way on campus, ever (I’m quite hopeless at finding my way) panicky feelings I felt completely melted away at being surrounded by, and finding myself a part of, breathtaking buildings with old architecture imbued with so much history.

It was a magical moment for me.

I immediately sent a photo to my dad and brother saying, “I feel like I’m in Hogwarts!”. To which my dad promptly replied, “What’s Hogwarts??”, and my brother promptly “LOL”ed at.

There — this is the beautiful place where I’m pursuing my 11-year-old dream (of being in Hogwarts, of course. — No, but really, I meant the whole postgrad study thing at the University of Melbourne, specifically. I know, enthusiastic obsession since I was 16 years old.) at.

What does it mean to be an editor?

Recently I’ve been thinking more and more about what it means to be an editor in today’s spell-check/self-published world. Are editors (copyeditors, developmental editors, commissioning editors) no longer in any demand, since (with minimal technological know-how, i.e. knowing how to simply press the F7 key on your keyboard when in Microsoft Word) almost anyone can “edit” and proofread their work, and literally anyone can publish their own work on their own.

So are editors still needed then?

This has been on my mind for quite some time, and especially so since friends on Facebook seem to keep sharing articles and posts on how many of us will lose our jobs to computers/droids in time to come (hi, Computer, if you’re sentient enough to understand this, I [receive] you in peace. I promise not to jerk you around.). And it got me thinking — are editors dispensable?

Obviously I have very strong opinions about what I, as an editor, do and can do that helps not only writers, but also corporations or, really, any body that publishes anything. But what do you think? Would an editor be essential? Or can a computer do the job of an editor? Or will we move into an age where published works no longer need any sort of developing at the manuscript stage — because people should just be able to publish any(and every)thing?

I’ll probably ramble on about what being an editor means to me in the next post… But till then, let me know what you think!