We don’t know the process or philosophy behind the author and publisher.

I never thought much about if a book has been edited “properly.”

That is a judgement call to each reader and Editing results in book you like or don’t.

I would be interested if those who say a book is under edited to provide detailed examples.

The rest of us can then make a judgement on your skills.

I understand editing; it is subjective.

Posted by Jim Rittenour in Milaca MN , 16 Mars 2011

By Editor

6 thoughts on “Under edited?”
  1. Gorgon, the example you show may only indicate that the man in the hotel was informed in some other way than a phone, or that phones went down between the first and the second comments the man made. The setting is contemporary, probably with both mobile and land lines…If you have ever been through a really bad hurricane, you know that weird, inexplicable things happen. However, I do agree with your point of why should you even be wondering. I am not sure that an editor can resolve that, though.

    Posted by Dennis McIntosh in State College ,

  2. Hi Dennis – a decent editor, under normal circumstances, could at least point it out to the author, who could then revise, excise or explain the offending incident. Of course, Larsson may have already died before this was possible but, in that case, the editor could have made the necessary amendments.

    André Jute provides other, similar examples such as Henrik Vanger being a night owl and only available after lunch a couple of pages before Blomqvist speaks to him at 8am while collecting a thermos from the housekeeper, or Salander having bags and bags of newspapers in her apartment when the content in them would be available sooner and more readily on the internet she is umbilically connected to.

    For my part, like you, I’m happy to fill in the gaps myself (I believe it’s called fanwanking – Vanger being up and about for whatever reason at 8am on one day doesn’t mean he doesn’t, as a rule, sleep until noon; Salander’s bags may have been full of those freebie advertising rags that get stuffed unsolicited through our letterboxes and perhaps she hasn’t got around to taking them to the recycling centre yet, etc.) and don’t see them as offences against fiction. They may be slip-ups but then this is not classical literature. It’s a thriller.

    Posted by genji in Lisbethtown ,

  3. TGWTDT, particularly the opening chapters, was both over-written and badly edited. Under normal circumstances, editors will point out these problem areas and ask the author to perform a rewrite. Unfortunately, Larsson was dead. It is not a function of editing to perform wholesale rewrites. This would be considered infringement upon an intellectual property and terribly presumptuous. Editors are not generally book doctors or ghost writers. I have not read Eva’s criticism of the editing yet, but can only assume the editors were desperately attempting to ‘fix’ the novel’s structural problems and were inadequate to the task. Most editors make terrible creative writers because their mental conditioning is one of adhering closely to the rules of writing and structure, so they are mentally editing as they write which inhibits and slows the creative process.

    It is difficult for me to believe that Eva places all the blame on the editors for the book’s defects and incongruities. I read another criticism in this forum from someone complaining that Larsson seemed to struggle with maintaining the characters’ ‘voice’ throughout, giving the effect of choppiness. If Eva helped with the writing, this choppy effect could be due to the differences in writing styles, however slight or unintended. Sometimes a single author can write in a choppy fashion simply by leaving the writing to go to bed, then waking up the next morning and starting to write in a different frame of mind. If Larsson had lived, we would likely find plenty to criticise, but in this case the blame seems to shift around a lot.

    Basically, the function of editing is both structural and mechanical, like providing guidance to someone who is building a house. Foundation (establishing backstory, plotline and characters), framing (establishing character complexity, relativity, congruity and relationships), a strong roof (satisfying climax and denoument) and the mechanicals (ensuring there are no cheap writing tricks that cheat the reader, i.e. it was all just a dream, and generally addressing the rules of spelling referencing a single dictionary, grammar and form, punctuation, spacing of characters and ‘widows and orphans’ (hyphenation placement in words that must be split at the end of a line to flow into the next line, and a single word or phrase that sits alone on a page because of text overflow). This is a very simplistic explanation of a complex process, for those who want to know.

    Posted by Jean Ferguson in Toronto, Canada ,

  4. There’s an objective standard of editing. A book “The Larsson Scandal” describes it and shows how the various editors failed. Norstedts and MacLehose threatened the authors with lawyers before they even finished writing the book.

    Also, you should know, Larsson’s lover, Eva Gabrielsson, has always said the books were over-edited. “The Larsson Scandal” goes into that as well. It’s actually a funny book.

    Posted by bestseller in Bangkok ,

  5. That Eva G. would contend that the books are over-edited does not surprise. I find mini-jumps and not-quite-anachronisms in them. Here’s a simple example from the second book: The man at the hotel has “just been informed” that the hurricane struck not far away. A page later he’s asked how bad it was and says he doesn’t know because the phones are down. Which instantly makes you wonder how he found out about it in the first place. It’s not that you can’t devise a solution, it’s that you shouldn’t be wondering in the first place. This kind of not-quite-connected and not-quite-unconnected stuff is strikingly common in the books.

    Posted by Gorgon1001 in Denver ,

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