I Love My Editors, Part 1

I do.  They’re remarkable, and have made my writing better.  I’ve had two of them so far, Patrick Lobrutto for my novels, and Scott Andrews for the short story I just sold to his new online magazine, Between Ceaseless Skies.  (More about that in Part 2.) 

The relationships are different, of course.  With my novels, Patrick has always been very hands off regarding specifics.  He tells me things like, “You need another chapter here,” or, “you need to expand this scene.”  He even came up with the title for the first book, Reiffen’s Choice.  (I still feel stupid for not having figured that one out myself – it was so obvious.)  But the best thing he ever did was tell me the second book was too long. 

Now you have to understand, he told me to cut 20,000 words from the first book, so professional pride insisted I bring the second one in at the same length.  And I did, after great exertion with the Exacto.  (Well, it was about 2,000 words longer.)  So I was horribly shocked when Patrick told me I had to cut 20,000 words this time too.  But it’s only ten pages longer than the other one! I whined.  He didn’t care.  It read too long.  Go back and cut it, he said. 

In despair, I returned to my garret.  How was I going to cut 20,000 words?  Why did my second book have to be 20,000 words shorter than my first?  It wasn’t fair. 

Still stubbornly refusing to do what I was told, I brought up the ms of Reiffen’s Choice in Word.  Then I brought up Queen Ferris in another window and compared the two.  They were exactly the same. 

Except they weren’t.  Somehow I’d widened the margins of Queen Ferris by a quarter of an inch.  Uh-oh.  Shrinking them back to the same width as Reiffen’s Choice, I discovered QF was actually 90 pages longer.  Which works out to almost exactly 20,000 words. 

Patrick Lobrutto is a genius.  I did what he said.  And I’ll never argue with him again. 

At least not until the next book.

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  1. 1. Karen Wester Newton

    Pat is great! I met him at Pikes Peak Writers Conference. He did some nice critiques for me.

    Your story reminds me of a joke about a tailor who was mugged. When the cops asked for a description of the two assailants, he said, “One was a 42 long, the other was a 38 regular.”

    I guess after that long in the biz, you just develop an eye.

  2. 2. S.C. Butler

    Karen – So, what was wrong with the tailor’s description?

    Pat has developed a hell of an eye.

  3. 3. cindy

    thanks for this.
    i’m doing a revision with my editor
    for the debut, and i’m learning so
    much. it’s a humbling process. i have
    utter respect for all the awesome editors
    out there.

    i also sat in on a panel with patrick
    and he’s funny and great. he seems
    to know his stuff, for certain!

  4. 4. Karen Wester Newton

    Nothing was wrong! That was the point. He could tell at a glance where someone else would need a measuring tape, just like Pat in your story.

  5. 5. S.C. Butler

    Karen – Sorry for the weak attempt at humor there.

Author Information

S.C. Butler

Butler is the author of The Stoneways Trilogy from Tor Books: Reiffen's Choice, Queen Ferris, and The Magician's Daughter. Find out what Reiffen does with magic, and what magic does with him... Visit site.

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