1. Gonissa
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    Gonissa New Member

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    What reviewer are you?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Gonissa, Mar 31, 2012.

    So I was reading this book, "How to Succeed in the Publishing Game" by Vickie Stringer. She was talking about all the different aspects of editing. Apparently in the business there are three types of editors. Copy editors, content editors, and book doctors.

    Copy editors are people who correct grammar and punctuation. The example given is this:

    Before: See spot run
    After: See Spot run.

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    Pretty self-explanatory.

    The content editor cares about things like consistent storylines, character development, and avoiding plot holes. They want your language to be as entertaining as possible.

    Before: See Spot run.

    According to the book, "A content editor might ask: what color are Spot's spots? Where is Spot running? Is Spot a he or a she?"

    After:
    "See Spot, the purebred champion Dalmatian male, with his stunning black spots perfectly off-set by his brilliantly white coat, sprinting down the avenue after the dazzlingly red fire truck."

    The book doctor is concerned with the big picture of the story in question. They investigate to see if your character is unappealing, your ending doesn't work, or your themes are off. They're the big picture people, and Vickie calls them, "a best friend who will tell you if the outfit you are wearing makes you look fat...but also gives you solid, concrete options on what to change and what to wear that will look most flattering and make you irresistible to your audience".

    Before: See Spot run.

    A book doctor's possible comments: "Having Spot run here does not make sense. Instead of running, Spot should be having an affair with the neighbor dog who already has illegitimate puppies with Spot's dying half-brother."

    I don't think I like that book example...but oh well. You get the idea. In any case, I've been noticing lately around here that people don't always review the books equally. One person will comment on one thing, and someone on another. It's obvious that these divisions exist in our reviewing even though none of us are editors (I think).

    So which one are you? The spelling/grammar type? The content fixer type? Or do you see the big picture? I think I fall more into the book doctor section myself, but I've been doing a bit of content editing too. What about y'all?
  2. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Wow, I guess I'm the editor who discerns how the book feels upon the chest of the reader who falls asleep in his recliner...

    I'm a content guy.
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'm whichever critiquer is called for, and often as not, none of those. I will be the spelling √úbermeister when the spelling is glaringly bad, or the grammarian with the whip. If the problem is marathon sentences, that is what I will focus on. If the problem is gaudy, overblown descriptions, I'll be the champion for economy of expression. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

    All, of course, based on my personal opinion/assessment of what the squeaky wheel is. And every piece of writing has at least one squeaky wheel, whether it's the rawest piece by a rank novice, or a polished piece by a twenty-year veteran.
  4. killbill
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    killbill Member

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    I could be any of the three as the writing demands me to be, and that is how an aspiring writer should be. As a writer, my stories are going to pass through the three editors of any publication houses, therefore I should know what are the things that invites their red pen to strike.
  5. LeMasterTJ
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    LeMasterTJ New Member

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    I'm probably a content editor, but the book doctor is sort of close to me, too. Can't really settle on just one.
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'm all three, as needed, for posters on writing sites, for those i mentor privately off-site, and for paying clients... and have been, for more than a half century, ever since i edited my high school paper...
  7. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm all three as well. It all depends on what the writer asks for, although spelling/grammar is something long-term associates expect from me at a minimum.
  8. Erato
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    Erato New Member

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    I'm all three, I guess, but I tend toward the book doctor. Spelling and grammar tend to annoy me so I fix them if they need it; I do a bit of content editing.
  9. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'm all of them, too. But I don't like correcting spelling and grammar much. I will if it's really terrible, but generally I'll just say something like, "Your spelling needs work. Take a look at your grammar, too, especially in the first couple of paragraphs."

    But usually I focus on the one thing that stands out to me most. Sometimes, I don't think I can help at all, because the writer and I will never agree on a critical point. For example, I once read a story in which the main character was someone I despised because he was, in my view, a selfish, egotistical, ultra-militaristic dolt, but the writer clearly thought he was a flawless hero. We argued a bit about this, and I just had to tell the writer that I couldn't help him, because his hero disgusted me so much that we would be forever at cross purposes.
  10. Gonissa
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    Gonissa New Member

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    Oh. Well, other than Mamma and ShadowWalker, who apparently do this for a living, I'm a bit irked at the answers. I mean sure, we all do all of them at some point or another, but which one are you naturally more bent towards? Cogi sounds more like a copy editor than otherwise, and Minstrel sounds most like a book doctor. Sometimes it's hard to tell, as you think you're one way, but really when you look at the reviews you do, you're something different entirely. I think it's human nature not to always understand oneself.
  11. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not really sure why you'd be 'irked' at the answers. Is there something surprising at learning that many/most writers will know how to be all three? Or that they can switch between them based on what's needed? Those three may be separate jobs in a publishing firm but a good writer (IMHO) will have a pretty darn good knowledge of all aspects of editing, and have practiced enough to be good at them.

    Oh, and I don't do it for a living, but am/have been active with several beta groups over the past few years.
  12. Gonissa
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    Gonissa New Member

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    Ah. You sounded a bit professional.

    Well, mildly irked. I was just hoping on a little more in-depth conversation.
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Why irked? Do you really think it's as simple as A, B, or C?

    As I said, my critiquing approach depends on what I perceive as the squeaky wheel in that particular piece.

    However, my focus is not on the particular piece of writing, but on the writing that writer produces. The distinction? I aim to help the writer improve not only that piece of writing, but whatever he or she writes after that as well. So I am more interested in the writing habits than in the individual mistakes or missed opportunities.

    If you're looking for discussion, a multiple choice approach certainly won't get it.
  14. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Member Supporter Contributor

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    Gonissa, your choices aren't adequate. Copy editing, as you have defined it, seems to be something any intelligent fifth-grader could do. Capitalize a proper noun here, supply a needed period there, yawn until quitting time.

    Content editing is something I doubt very many people on this site would admit to doing. Your example is a wholesale ripping-apart of the original writer's style, substituting a drastically different one that has none of the feel of the writer's original work. That's one hell of an egotistical editor, one not as much interested in helping the writer as in replacing him altogether.

    "Book doctoring" sounds like something bad studio executives do when they're making movies. They take something original and fresh and give "notes," telling writers and directors what they're doing wrong; that there has to be a fight with the girlfriend here and make-up sex there and that the villain should have a huge bald mentally-challenged henchman. They turn something good into the same-old same-old.

    You shouldn't be irked at the answers. You're trying to squeeze us all into slots none of us want to fit into. When we review work, we really do try to help where we think the help is most necessary. And it's about helping the writer, not rewriting their prose to suit our tastes or replotting their story to satisfy our own egos. Any honest reviewer comments about the things that need commenting on. We're not bent towards one type of critique or another, especially when someone else is defining the categories.
  15. Nahriel
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    Nahriel New Member

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    I myself are also all three. I have been schooled to start out with an owerwiew then dive deep into the caverrn if grammar, spell checking and so on.

    I compleatly agree with ministrel. Editing is all three and more, depending on author, story and target audience. Since you don't write the same way for kids as you do for adults, the editing process are different aswell. In real publishing it also depends on how experienced the author is since the more expereienced you are as a writer the more freedone you have to self edit.
  16. Mckk
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    Mckk Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personally I'd stop reading that book of yours. Those writing examples to demonstrate what type of editors do what are breath-takingly awful. The content editing example is just horrible - the replaced sentence isn't even good! The book doctor example is equally terrible and doesn't even make sense. Read something that's gonna give you half decent examples - if the author can't even do that, how much could she possible teach you? Certainly her messages won't be conveyed very well even if her knowledge is actually all right.

    And any half decent reviewer/editor are not gonna fall into any one category - the good ones never do.
  17. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    I didn't mean to offend Gonissa either. In fact, I thought a short answer was all that was wanted.

    The categories were pre-determined, and I thought it was a like a poll.
  18. marcuslam
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    marcuslam New Member

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    I'm not the best reviewer out there. Because I hate making people feel bad, I'm not straight forward with my critiques. If it's a spelling or grammatical mistake, I'd correct it and add a smiley face once in a while.
  19. Jowettc
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    Jowettc New Member

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    I would think if you're going to be a writer you need to be all of them otherwise you're going to fluff it repeatedly somewhere along the line.

    Personally I'm not much of a grammar whizz but I can see some mistakes - mainly because they're ones that people have repeatedly told me to correct myself.

    Clearly I must be mindful of content otherwise my story might petre out into a meaningless mess of little small clumps of - oh look a squirell - where was I?

    Ditto the book doctor.

    I think it's an interesting concept but probably not accurate - bless Vickie for selling a meaningless book perhaps?
  20. live2write
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    live2write Member

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    I am more for how the language is and how it attracts my attention as a reader and writer. I try to keep it simple for the writer of the story. Sentence structure, what language is used and the flow of the story is what I critique. Grammer and spelling can be fixed with proof reading
  21. lorilee
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    lorilee New Member

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    I'm like that in real life sometimes, but not in writing and reviewing I hope.

    I'd have to say I'm grammar first. If something is badly written grammar- and spelling-wise, I have trouble seeing through that to the content. If there are no basic issues, then i go to content
  22. Gonissa
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    Gonissa New Member

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    Hey man, I'm quoting the book here. Apparently, all three of these editors exist in the publishing realm, and it is their job to edit according to their definitions. I'm not creating categories. These categories have already existed on their own.

    And yes, perhaps Vickie's examples aren't great, but that's why she's not an editor.
  23. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes, they do all exist... i do all three for clients...
  24. Morgulion
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    Morgulion New Member

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    I'm much more inclined to focus on types two and three; while language, as the means of communication, is indubitably important, I consider it an ancillary element. I will favor the big-picture type over description, as a work must above all be cohesive, solid, and capable of creating a certain message; past that, description is the more important element in constructing that message or impression.
  25. cazann34
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    cazann34 Member

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    I'm a 'copy editor, myself. I correct punctuation, basically because I'm new to critiquing and I've witnessed the flip side of over critiquing - in my opinion any way. One member submitted her work for critiquing but someone re-wrote it (a large piece if it any way), causing her great upset, she said she felt her work had been hijacked by this person. I really felt for her and would of been horrified if someone did the same to my work. But now I'm not too sure. Was the rewriter giving a constructive critique?
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