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Thread: Comics Editors Are Like A Box of Chocolates

  1. WilliamStormeSmith Guest

    I've only worked with 5 editors, all had an immense knowledge and were able to show me the error of my ways clearly.

    I have noticed that younger editors seem to be very good with dialogue and individual scenes, but not as good at seeing the big picture, of course that is a benefit of experience.

    I did have a very successful writer tell me an interesting story about being fired from a job a decade ago. The editor and him had creative differences. And as he said he knew he was right, but the editor wanted something else. After being fired and the editor finding success with another writer. He said he finally realized that "Yes. He was still right, but what he knows now is there can be several right answers in any situation."
    Last edited by WilliamStormeSmith; Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 12:14 AM.



  2. LeeNordling Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by harryd View Post
    It was also edited for space, and some of the corrections they made caused grammatical errors or created sentence fragments. They were trying to shorten it by a couple lines to fit in a magazine section, but by just cutting some parts, they created sentences that didn't make sense.

    Also, the part that annoyed me was with later submissions, they just made edits and published it without even bothering to come back to me. If they wanted a rewrite to cut it down a bit, or restructure, I would appreciate the chance to give it a second pass myself.

    I can understand wanting to have more of a discussion on what people think are good and bad traits of an editor, I was just saying in the context originally provided, I wasn't sure too many people would have 'stories' about working with good or bad editors.

    In that vein, and I know this has been said before, I think that a good editor is one that will explain why something needs to be changed, and not just say what needs to be changed. I think being open and communicative, on both sides of editing work, is a good trait. Those are the main two items that jump to mind right now, though I'm sure others will probably be able to come up with some other ideas.
    What's wrong with showing (not publishing) an edit...especially IF the intent is to show you how something can be improved, whether they explain it or not?

    Y'see, this is a great example of something that READS more like hurt ego...and that may NOT (late edit catching this omission; sorry) be the case if you list the pros and cons without the offended tone.

    I get that you don't feel somebody has a right to touch your use of language, while you're willing to take hands-off suggestions.

    When getting feedback on a rejection, what "rule" does that break? What's "wrong" with that?

    I hope these questions will help you to see better where we're going.

    I don't want a gripe session; I want a laundry list of specific failures and successes, and I don't think this one is (yet) a failure...though it obviously bruised your feelings.

    Correcting typos and adding new ones; now THAT'S a failure.

    Correcting typos that are yours; that's actually a GOOD thing, because it forces you to recognize that you need to proof better next time (if, in fact, there were any). I don't actually care if there are, let's just try it again, and post the defined successes and failures.

    Btw, do that here, and you'll be better at learning how to keep your eye on this particular ball without involving personal feelings.

    Yes, we all have feelings...but don't let them get in the way of you being PERCEIVED by others as "right."

    I really am trying to get this out of conversation mode, and into a laundry list of pros and cons that are devoid of opinion.

    Thanks.

    Keep trying.

    --Lee
    Last edited by LeeNordling; Friday, April 30, 2010 at 02:03 PM.



  3. LeeNordling Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by WilliamStormeSmith View Post
    I've only worked with 5 editors, all had an immense knowledge and were able to show me the error of my ways clearly.

    I have noticed that younger editors seem to be very good with dialogue and individual scenes, but not as good at seeing the big picture, of course that is a benefit of experience.

    I did have a very successful writer tell me an interesting story about being fired from a job a decade ago. The editor and him had creative differences. And as he said he knew he was right, but the editor wanted something else. After being fired and the editor finding success with another writer. He said he finally realized that "Yes. He was still right, but what he knows now is there can be several right answers in any situation."
    After writing that all editors aren't the same, let's not generalize, Storme.

    Tell the story, then list the pros or cons, then tell the next story and list the cons or pros.

    Thanks.

    --Lee



  4. WilliamStormeSmith Guest

    I'm not sure i can remember any stories accurately enough to relay them well. But I'll try. I have a memory like an Alzheimer patient that just had a lobotomy. But I know I can do a PRO and CON list of younger versus older editors.

    The only story I really can remember right off hand is something an editor told me that was difficult to accept. She felt that I was basically repeating the same idea over and over again, I think the quote if I remember it correctly was "It was like I was beaming my reader with fastballs over and over." Now as a reader I get what she meant, but as a writer I'd always held to the old Winston Churchill philosophy of hammer your point home, then hammer it home again, and then one more time just to make sure you hammered it home. Now they are both right, however I was wrong. I was misusing Churchill's advice, and it was pointed out to me and i feel I improved. You hammer the point home but not exactly 3 times in a row and you do it with good writing, SUBTLY. Still read that edit a great deal.

    Young editors PROS: less stress, more freedom, risk takers, more willing to believe you know what you are doing, and last they are learning too.

    Young Editors CONS: to much freedom, lack of knowledge, difficulty with theme (my #1 weakness), tend to want to rewrite a scene completely at times, and last they are learning too.

    Older Editors PROS: Structure, confidence in their ability, a track record, different kind of risk takers, able to teach/mentor, and last they are still learning.

    Older Editors CONS: STRESS, less confidence in your ability, impatience with beginners, grammar snobs, and some have stopped learning think they know it all. The last one is something I've never encountered, but have in other business and know a few writers who have.

    Not sure if this helps, been so busy with a some stuff I haven't been able to participate as much as I'd like.



  5. LeeNordling Guest

    Hey, Storme.

    I'm sure your summations apply to your experiences, but I have to squelch the idea that all young editors behave one way, and all more experienced editors behave another.

    An experienced (well-known) pro is one of the worst comics editors I've ever experienced, and one of the younger guys, is one of the better.

    That's why I think it's important to discuss specific pros and cons and not generalize...unless you'd care for me to generalize about young writers and artists, and older writers and artists (with "young" meaning newer, and "old" meaning more seasoned).

    Or we could discuss races and religions...

    Yep, I think that got your attention: don't generalize, not without some points that truly apply.

    ***

    On another note, next week will be the last for CPP, at least for a while.

    Our semester is over (yep, it's been six months) and the final exam will start on Tuesday (or late Monday night).

    Don't miss it!

    --Lee



  6. RonaldMontgomery Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeNordling View Post
    Thanks, Ronald.

    I'll be out all day tomorrow, and won't be back till late, so I wanted to get my column comfortably up before I split.

    Re. your poor editorial experience, don't forget what we need accomplished.

    If your editor made a quantifiable mistake, you need to explain what you believe it was, in the context of the discussion.

    It doesn't matter that you got rewritten, it matters WHY you were rewritten...from his perspective and yours.

    --Lee
    OK, to try again...
    I worked with an editor, and he returned the story to me. His editorial style I found heavy-handed -- he re-wrote panels and dialogue, for example, without telling me why my writing didn't work.

    What he did right:
    He was nice.
    He communicated his changes very clearly.
    He did the job to the best of his abilities.

    What he did wrong:
    He communicated the changes, but he didn't explain the WHY. I think this was about inexperience and lack of communication skills.
    He didn't work with me to grow the story. He grafted so many of his edits on that I felt like it wasn't the story I'd written.

    I really think it was his style of editing. It just didn't work for me. Lee, you and I have talked about how different writers need different things from an editor, and a good editor will know that and know what to provide.
    I chose to break off the engagement because we were at an impasse. I don't think this editor was a bad person, but again, what he wanted from a writer and what I needed from an editor in this situation weren't in harmony.

    No harm, no foul. Hope this is better-rounded and fleshed-out answer.

    Sorry to hear semester is over. One thing you were really right about, and that I was so bad about, was keeping the exercise answers simple. That's my only regret these last six months!

    P.S. I can't believe I just wrote about simplicity after this long-ass post.



  7. LeeNordling Guest

    Excellent, Ronald.

    A PASS and a gold star, because, just like all our previous discussions, there's a constructive way to assess how something went, and as I hope you can all see, that dividing the different aspects helps make a better assessment, and learning what is and isn't good (without all the drama) helps us each learn.

    Thanks.

    --Lee



  8. RonaldMontgomery Guest

    I am reading a book at work that speaks to this very point: Leadership Lessons of the Navy Seals, by Jeff and Jon Cannon.
    Like any book on personal growth, you have to be in a place to receive the lessons. Otherwise, the book is empty platitudes.
    One lesson REALLY jumped out at me on Friday -- REALIZE THAT NOBODY'S FORCING YOU TO BE HERE. The authors write about how you can quit being a SEAL trainee at any time -- all you have to do is ring a bell at camp three times.
    That lesson is like meditation for me...easily understood but elusive to capture in practice. I'm here because I want to be, doing what I'm doing because I want to do it. Viewed that way, stepping back to break down problems becomes easier.



  9. LeeNordling Guest

    Absolutely, Ronald.

    Learning to step back, regroup, figure out whatever it is that went south so that you can, where possible, point it back north, is at the core of professionalism, and it's the Pro in Comics Pro Prep...the one thing that none of the books on comics writing and comic art teach.

    Last summer, for a million different reasons that I worked to avoid, my company was fired off a project.

    The editor involved would get a long list of failures from me in an assessment, and I'm pretty sure she'd have a few for me, though the core issue was that I wasn't a very good mind reader. It's not my superpower.

    Anyway, when her boss, the EIC of the publisher delivered the editor's assessment, without query or discussion, I knew it would be pointless to argue the point, as much as I wanted to explain my perspective of what happened.

    However, I still had important relationships in the company that weren't damaged, so I recognized there was nothing I could accomplish and sucked it up.

    I wanted to go postal...and didn't, because doing so would've been, to quote a cliche, cutting off my nose to spite my face.

    There are things we do for reasons, even if they're not what we wish to do, then we do them as well as possible.

    That situation wasn't the worst thing that's happened in my life, so I put it in perspective...and worked to keep the relationships that mattered.

    When I let the matter go the way the EIC was directing, I simply said I was sorry it hadn't worked out the way I thought we'd all hoped it would.

    She thanked me for taking it so professionally (and I've got no doubt somebody lost a bet on how I'd react).

    Then I negotiated a kill fee.

    I'm not saying everybody should have done what I did--we're all different. I am saying that the only way I was able to do what I did was by keeping my perspective on what was important, keeping a handle on my feelings/anger, and not self-destructing in that manner we see creators do all the time online.

    When we nearly stopped CPP short, I wrote a Code of Conduct.

    Half the reason was so we could constructively stay on topic; the other half was to FORCE people who wanted to be here to adhere to a set of rules...which, in itself, was designed to be another facet of professional preparation.

    There was reason behind most of what we did, as I tried to stay flexible to the thoughts and needs of the contributors.

    Anyway, we'll discuss this more beginning Tuesday (not now; think of this as a foreshadowing of discussions to come).

    For now, if any of you can follow Ronald's lead, you will learn much by the act of separating your feelings from your assessment.

    --Lee
    Last edited by LeeNordling; Sunday, May 02, 2010 at 05:01 PM.



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