Jenny Maloney's Reviews > The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself

The Artful Edit by Susan Bell
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's review
Apr 07, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: writing, editing, 2011
Read in April, 2011

Awesome, awesome, awesome! You know how sometimes it takes lots of repetition for a lesson to sink in? (I guess that's the theory behind multiplication tables in third grade....) Well, sometimes I think that we just need a really good teacher to put the lesson in terms that can be understood.

That teacher is Susan Bell. She's a professional editor, and not a bad writer either. =)

Bell breaks down the editing process in order to show writers how they can self edit. And this day in age, with the ton of self-publishing e-authors out there, self editing is soooooo important.

Important things that Bell covers: history of editing/editors' roles, creating distance from the work in order to gain perspective (sometimes it's literally pasting your work to a wall and looking at it from a different distance), macro vs micro editing, and developing your own style of editing...much like developing your own style of writing. Throughout the book she uses some really stellar examples from F. Scott Fitzgerald legendary book The Great Gatsby and his equally legendary editor, Maxwell Perkins. I'll admit that I'm not a huge fan of this classic, but Bell has shown enough about Fitzgerald's reworking work to make me impressed.

Unlike other books on writing (editing) this one is fairly easy to charge right through. It doesn't read like stereo instruction and there are no annoying charts/graphs to mathematically dictate how to write creatively. Bell does include checklists--however, they are useful breakdowns of what she has already explained very well in her chapters. Think of them as reminder sheets. All in all, if you're working on revising a piece, you should read this first. It's encouraging, practical, and should inspire you to Finish. Yup, with a capital F.

Place For The Stolen
Under Ground Writing Project
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