What kinds of editing can you do? This is the question the editors of The Onion’s site and others have asked for a few years now.
When you’re an editorial director on such a site that has a massive audience, which does not have a staff of writers (in general), what are your roles? To me, that question makes a lot of sense. I can think of no other editor role of such an importance at a site about which so much ink has been spilled.
First, it’s obvious what I’m getting at: You’re an editor, yes? You write stories, yes? To me, that doesn’t necessarily mean your role is to read the stories and approve them, but to take them from the beginning, to help decide how to change parts as necessary.
Then, what I’m getting at is that what I do most of the time is edit the things I write. It’s usually more than one story at a time (about eight or nine at the moment), since I have such a huge audience. It can take a while to get from the first draft to the final editing version, but then it makes sense I don’t even have time to waste because my goal is to get it out right and to make it as accurate as you can.
Let’s say I’m editing “John Smith Was a Spy” and it’s a really horrible story. I might say to myself, “Oh, this is so bad.” But then I write to myself, “How do I make this better?” I look back at my last edit and, of course, the changes were huge. It makes sense, right?
How do you know the story isn’t the story you want?
So what makes a good story? How do you know which story is good one day and which story is awful the next? Well, that takes many steps, and I won’t go through them all right now. But let me give some ideas, starting with the most obvious: what’s the thing that is in your brain at the moment?
If I had to guess, it’s probably about some kind of character or concept that isn’t really a person. The one that’s actually written in my head? That’s the thing I’m trying to get in line with my character’s personality. I want my characters to have some kind of emotional core. Otherwise your character will be a caricature, which is the worst thing possible, but the kind of thing you’d want in
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