Glenn A. Bruce's Blog: RITR (sic)

February 6, 2019

Finding an editor who suits your needs is somewhat like finding a golf pro who can actually improve your game (without ruining it).

As any golf pro worth his salt will tell you, the best way to help a golfer (at any stage of his/her progress) is to zero in on strengths and help them along by changing as little as possible. This is so because every golfer has a unique swing; changing it can wreak disaster. So a great pro watches then offers suggestions to smooth out any issues in the swing without changing it too much. This working with a client serves the golfer's needs and keeps the relationship with a positive.

So it is with editors. There are many wonderful editors out there, and some bad ones. My first criterion is always cost analysis. How much do they charge and what do they provide for that service? A great way to calculate this is to see a manuscript they edited - before and after. Even just a few pages. This will allow you to see what they have done before, how they helped the writing - or didn't. It's a good start if the editor will share.

Of course, a good relationship is based on chemistry. This should go without saying; but if you don't "hit it off" with an editor somewhere near the beginning, you should probably move on. However, if you find you don't get along with ANY editors...maybe-probably - it's you. That said...

An editor's job is to help your writing. To help it to be clearer and more effective - basically to do what you intended to do but maybe didn't quite get to. The rub can come if you disagree on an edit, of course. It is within editorial-relationship etiquette to question a suggestion, with respect for the intent. A good editor will answer your concern with specifics. A not-so-good editor will get peeved that you question their "authority." It follows that if you find yourself asking questions of too many edit suggestions, either you are being too defensive or your editor is being too picky ior even arrogant - or some combination of both.

So this comes down to basic sensibilities. If you are not clicking - you are not clicking. And it may be time to try another editor. But be sure that YOU are not the problem. I.e., always be open - at least in the beginning - to anything an editor suggests. You can decide as you go along whether or not you desire to continue.

Of course, we are talking about editors that you seek out; not editors that are provided by a publisher. Whole different can of worms. In the former, you have control; in the latter, you do not. That said, professional editors assigned by topnotch publishers are most likely great to work with because of their extensive experience. In the case of HIRING an editor yourself, you may not have any idea of what you are getting into until you are into it.

A tip: Try having a prospective editor work on a short story. Pay them to edit a short piece to see how they approach your style. If it goes well, move on to longer pieces.

A note on my personal experiences:

With magazine editors, I cannot recall having an issue once they decide to run a piece. I have found their editorial comments to be both respectful and accurate. Or at the very least inconsequential - as far as my concerns to "protect" my work. They usually have a reason for the edit (and usually tell you what it is); and it usually does not impact your writing as a whole in any way. I.e., if you are overly sensitive to mini-edits, you might reconsider YOUR approach, not theirs. I cannot recall ever saying no to a magazine editor's suggested changes. In some cases, I couldn't even identify what they had done! So: no room for complaints.

As to hiring an editor for a longer work: totally different story. I have only tried it twice, but neither time was successful. In one case, I was referred by a publisher to a particular editor because my story "needed fleshing out" - which it absolutely did. So I was happy to get suggestions. However, after getting paid, the editor's only comment was: "Your story needs fleshing out." I asked how, and was told that I would have to pay LOTS more to get that advice. I reported back to the publisher who was surprised - then fired the editor. Not really a win for anyone.

The second time I tried, the editor simply never edited - never started the work. I checked back in for months but nothing had been done. Fortunately, I had not yet been asked for money, so I was able to walk away.

On the other side, I have edited lots and lots of material for many writers and have always - as far as I remember - been received well. I think this is because I take each writer, and each piece, separately on their own merits. I have had to be "cruel" - i.e., some pieces needed a LOT of work. But I never spoke cruelly to the writer. For this, I received little to no resistance, and writers most often took my advice - or at least they used my advice as a jumping-off point to improve their writing their way.

Final tip: Listen. A good editor - in some cases even a mediocre editor - will point to a problem and usually offer a suggestion on how to "fix" it. Feel free to discuss what changes might be appropriate. Don't badger the editor and NEVER argue. Even if you don't agree, take the comment in and consider it. If it doesn't ring true, put it aside for a little while then go back to it. Often, letting time (and your ego) slide a bit will bring you to your solution.

So, as with golf, not every suggestion is a total winner; but there is usually some truth to any suggestion given by a professional - as long as respect goes both ways. You must know that they are serious about helping you, and not just making a clone of themselves; and they must know that you are open to improvement. It goes both ways - which is probably the single most disregarded notion in most of life, eh?
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Published on February 06, 2019 11:04 • 27 views

January 17, 2018

My short story "Fear and Ice" made the over of Open Thought Vortex. Great pic and presentation. Check it out.

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Published on January 17, 2018 06:55 • 48 views

January 5, 2018

I have finished "final" revisions on both "Banana Republic: Richie's Run" and "Chad," the latter coming in at just over 220,000 words. My opus! It only took 36 years to finish! (Well, to get it the way I wanted it.) And I am very happy with the way it turned out. The work was worth it. The lesson: Never give up! I managed to fix Banana Republic as well. That one only took about 15 years. Normally, I finish one novel per year. But these had been hanging on for a long time. Happy to finally crack the issues and get them ready for a publisher - that being the goal of 2018: to get my catalog sold with the new two. I have several others in the works, and I am looking forward to... working on them! They all have promise. When things have settled down this year, I will choose two and move ahead. I always work on at least two at a time, usually with one screenplay as well. Keeps me off the streets. Hope everyone has a happy and productive New Year. Keep writing!
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Published on January 05, 2018 13:37 • 7 views

August 19, 2017

Completed final edit on Banana Republic: Richie's Run yesterday, proving the need for patience. I wrote the screenplay for this in the early 90s and it was immediately picked up for option. In the mid-2000s, I started to adapt it for a novel - but that did not come as easily as the screenplay. In the past 10-12 years, I have done five or six versions of the novel, none of them pleasing me. This year, in January, I decided to find whatever was wrong with it, fix it, and finish it. Project: done! And, I am happy to report, it came out much better than I had hoped. In fact, I am excited about it. I always liked the story and characters, but I couldn't get the writing just right. Now, I have. The tension never lets up, other than for the humor inherent in the situations and the nature of the caustic characters. Hope to be shopping it very soon. So the lesson is: Don't give up! If you like a piece of work - the elements, especially - keep working until you get the words in the right order. You will be that much happier for it.
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Published on August 19, 2017 07:37 • 71 views

May 27, 2017

Got a nice birthday present, today. My essay "Existence in Metals - A history" was just published - after three years of submitting it. I always liked this one and felt it would find a home - and it finally did. Thanks to Shareen Mansfield for seeing the truth in it.

The essay reflects my connection to our family property through all of the weird pieces of metal I have turned up in the soil over the years - which serve as a grounding influence. Nice publication. Proud to be in it.
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Published on May 27, 2017 07:49 • 57 views

January 5, 2017

"Time Marches On," said Dr. John. And so it is. I have been on Goodreads for years and lots of people have friended me, but it shows on one (1!) follower. This is sad. Not beautiful at all. Despite that, I need to add to my blog. So:

I have just published #8, "Race! A Colorfuel Hei$t Story" and folks are liking it, as usual. I say "as usual" because I get a great deal of joy from people emailing me to say how much they enjoy each book. (I wish they would leave glowing reviews on Amazon.)

But that one is done and out, so I am working on #9 and #10, plus two new short story collections - one of published SSs and one of new ones that I am too impatient to place. Who cares, anyway? They are the same stories, right? Just easier to access in one place. I have learned that over time, with enough submissions, every story can find a home. Some can even get rejected a million times then win a contest. with publishing in general, why not put them out myself.

What I need is marketing skills! But, being a writer/artist, I sadly have few if any.

That said, I will continued to write and publish. When ten are out, I will be seeking a publisher to pick up from where I have solidly started. Any ideas? Let me know.

In the meantime, #9 is "Banana Republic," a hard-action tale of a man framed for murder on the run in South America who meets up with a top-shelf fashion model who has a plan to use his less legal talents. A gripper.

#10 is actually the first novel I wrote, in 1981 - on a manual typewriter. Yes. Now, in soft copy, I have edited it going on four times. A few more times and it will be as good as I initially hoped. When I reread it two years ago, I was GRANDLY disappointed. But with LOTS of work, it has come around. It has also grown. But it needed it. Now, at 185,000 words, it is my new epic - a post-holocaust, dystopian dark heist-adventure story rife with politics and religion as I imagine it in 2050. Fun stuff! A hint: politics wins - but America loses.

Look for both in the next few months.

Sorry for any typos - I'm in a hurry!
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Published on January 05, 2017 16:49 • 38 views

July 9, 2016

Today, I travel into town to sign copies of my latest novel:
"Dear Me!: or The History of the End of the World as We Knew It, Told As I See It, or More Accurately, Saw It by Daniel R. Olafson."
Big secret: I wrote it. Danny is my alter ego. Not really.
But "Dear Me!" is probably the most "me" of any of my books. Coming in as #8 in order, it is the story of the last man on earth and how he got to be there through the evil machinations of his best friend from 8th grade Arthur Mencken (no relation) who said: "Someday, I'm going to kill everyone on Earth, Danny - except you."
He succeeds - more or less. More more, than less.
I have been marketing the hell out of this one, and look forward to a good turnout - the season is right - but there is no telling on these things. You pack up books, you go, you hope people show up. Someone always does, and it's fun talking to fans, even if it's only a few. I recommend it!
Novel #9 (Race!) is already done, just awaiting a cover. I will be ready to go out with it in a few months. And "Chad" - the first novel I ever wrote, back in 1981-82, will be #10, after a heavy edit, that is in progress. So, life after an MFA continues - along with more stories and poems, articles and such. It's all good. Keep writing!
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Published on July 09, 2016 09:19 • 25 views

May 9, 2016

I won a short story contest titled "Quick and Dirty" by online mag Also That. It actually pays cash and a "prize" of some art. Very cool! This is a challenging story. I submitted it at least a dozen times and it was never accepted. Then it won a contest! I always believed in it and knew it would get out there, but had no idea it would win. Very satisfying. It's a fast story with no set-offs for dialogue - and just rips along from one thought to another. Like I said: a challenge. Happy to see that someone loved it enough to pay me! Check it out.

For May 9, 2016.
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Published on May 09, 2016 09:33 • 26 views • Tags: contest-winner, short-story

February 18, 2016

The Maples has been selling well and the early reviews are positive - woohoo! I'm always happy that folks are enjoying the work. Next up: "Dear Me!" my post-apocalyptic dark-comedy opus: 142,000+ words in just under 600 pages - 391 (often short) chapters broken up by "actual fictitious" journal entries by the book's narrator "writer" Danny Olaf. At almost 15-years "in the making," I am looking forward to finally getting it out there. It always felt "ahead of its time," so I kept holding it back. (There were even references to Donald Trump in the first drafts.) Now, it's time. I spent all day yesterday working on the cover. Had to learn Paint.Net to learn how to do layers with different opacities; but I am happy with the evolving results. I've tried using other folks for covers and editing, etc., but end up being a jack-of-all-trades kind of guy every time. I learn, I enjoy. Also planning a book signing next month in Boone. Will advise. Hope to have some advance copies of Dear Me! but I'm thinking it may not happen. We'll see. Plenty of copies of The Maples, however, and other books of course. Always fun. So...keep writing and having fun yourselves!
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Published on February 18, 2016 06:17 • 104 views • Tags: cover-art, dear-me, the-maples

January 20, 2016

Well, it's been a roller coaster of a year - or two. Working on the writing necessary for my MFA, I had to let my long fiction wait. Now, I am on it, again. This Friday, January 22, is the official release date of my latest novel The Maples. This story about the Maples family history and mysteries is told through the irreverent voice of Janette, the oldest of four Maples siblings, who gather for a family funeral only to discover that their father Ed has become... nice. No one can explain it. Even their mother Evie. Over the course of four days, (mostly) all is revealed. The big finale was tricky but satisfying - pulling it all together to answer the questions, solve the mysteries, and understand - i.e., for all of the character to understand - what the hell was going on with Ed and the rest of the Maples clan.

This was a fun one to write, as Janette's voice is so distinct and abrasively hilarious. She has no censor, but is curious as hell - or becomes so as she eases back into the family dynamic - as dysfunctional as it can be. I laughed out loud while editing this novel, even on the 10th pass. And so I advise my students and writing friends: make yourself laugh; if nothing else, it will make editing a whole lot more fun!

Paper and Kindle are available on Amazon, of course. If you read it, please write a review. (They really help!) And please always feel free to ask about the book or my process. Happy reading!
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Published on January 20, 2016 17:47 • 37 views • Tags: comedy, dysfunctional-family, mystery

RITR (sic)

Glenn A. Bruce
An attempt to enter the blogosphere vis a vis the writing life.
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