nancylebov (nancylebov) wrote,

"A great teacher is a gift. A great line editor is a miracle."

What line-editing is, and why it's important

Line editing is primarily about the pursuit of a particular text's excellence, not about the correction of errors.

Would anyone care to tell me about to what extent line editing happens for fan fiction?

"Science fiction writer Samuel Delany has reflected that in a career that started in 1962 and spans to the present, he has only had one true line editor for fiction, Ron Drummond. Delany thinks the “marathon reading” done by acquisitions editors “tends to blunt just those finer sensibilities needed to get inside a text and take it apart from within in order to make useful suggestions for improvement that the writer can hear and respond too.” The mode of acquisition is one of decision: this book works, it will sell. For Delany, that mode is similar to a writing workshop style of criticism, which will “list toward the generalized and effect-oriented, rather than toward the specific and causally sensitive.” These criticisms are not invalid, but they “refer to a memory of the text, not the actual experience of reading the text—which is what the writer, writing, is always more or less skillfully modulating and manipulating.”

"A writing instructor can teach many things, but most important is the convergence of practice and mystery.
What Delany suggests—and what seems true for Erskine, Gottlieb, and other line-editors who stay the course—is a single, critical, editor-as-reader, who evolves and grows with the writer. Instead of thinking about line editing as a forgotten art, one callously consumed by the book business, we should consider it a privilege—a gift—enjoyed by some writers, but not most."

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