Let’s Talk About Editing: Knowing When “Incorrect” Is Just The Right Way To Be

Know the rules before you break them.

My apologies for lack of proper citation. This has been said so often and by so many, I don’t even know who to quote. Nevertheless, I want to explore this concept today.

Rather than prove the importance of rigidity, many great authors have proven literary RULES to be beautifully pliable. How did they do that? It’s been theorized by critics that they (those great authors) knew when and how to be “incorrect”.

In my opinion, it’s all about authenticity — authenticity of voice, of character, of scene, etc. If bypassing a RULE helps build imagery and effectively conveys the reality, the passion, of a creative work, I say go for it. Likewise, if the RULES, or strict confines of a traditional form heightens the intensity of your work … go for it.

When in conversation about peer reading/editing, I often find myself returning to one particular phrase — it’s a balancing act. What do I mean by that? It’s necessary for a writer to discover the story in the way s/he finds most inspiring, while simultaneously considering the audience. Whether the story is presented as futuristic, historical, memoir, comical, slick with meter and rhyme, or all of the above, the writer must have some understanding of how it will be read. What can readers relate to within this tale?

Readers want to relate to a story, whether that story is presented in fictional prose, narrative poetry, an experimental hybrid, op-ed, whatever. Yes, to some extent we’re seeking information and entertainment. Truthfully, though, there must be some element of the “story” to which we can relate, that draws us in, encourages us to continue exploring. Grammatical precision and strict form, while both have merit, don’t always ensure immediate reader love.

In 10 Rules You Can’t Break … And How To Break Them the writer of a popular blog discusses clarity, confidence, and word usage. While this post is meant to directly address blogging, there are some terrific points made for all writers.

Meanwhile, Writer’s Digest has a terrific post up — Editing Poetry: “Say It or Don’t Say It” . Here, the poet Clifford Brooks discusses seeking out peer editors and gives some insight on aspects of his process. He also makes this profound statement: No, just as it is crucial that a writer creates his or her own voice, the way we edit is also a matter of self-discovery.

One of our resident poets and occasional guest chatterers, Skyllairae, in response to last Tuesday’s discussion of Editing Checklists, posted her own Poetry Draft Checklist, which discusses BREAKING RULES. Have a looksee.


Entries for Lost & Found are due in the wee hours of Monday, June 29th. THAT’S LESS THAN SIX DAYS FROM NOW! Would you like a peer reading/edit before submitting?

I’ll be hosting a FLAMESTORMING session this Thursday night (7:30 p.m. EDT). No writing games, this time. Instead the floor will be open to a general meet & greet, writing discussion, and pleas for help 😉 Fire an email to flamestorming.tng@gmail.com for an invite to Google Hangouts. (A gmail address is required to join the hangout.)

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2 Responses to Let’s Talk About Editing: Knowing When “Incorrect” Is Just The Right Way To Be

  1. Pingback: Day Jobs and Writing: Wednesday Chatter by Skyllairae | Brigit's Flame Writing Community

  2. Pingback: Weekend Wrap-Up | Brigit's Flame Writing Community

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