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  • Writer's pictureVadhan

The award for the best editing goes to…

No.

I am not a religious Zealot. I love the Chinese. Especially their movies and food. I am an animals and reptiles person. I don’t mean them harm.

This is not an announcement for an award for editing. It ought to be. Fortunately or unfortunately, it isn’t.

Recently, an esteemed blogger and good friend of mine, while reviewing my book, commended my publisher for almost perfect, error free, book.

I glowed in pride. I am so happy. I am going to tell you why.

Writing a book is not about writing a book. You would think that. You would say, what’s this guy talking about? Of course writing a book is about writing a book, what else could it be, making a snake walk? Or maybe he thinks its about body building. This guy’s a moron. Well, think what you might, I stick to my stance. Writing a book is not about writing a book.

It is about presenting a work of fiction. It has many layers to it. First the skeleton, just the basic structure, the bones of the matter. You can call it the basic premise. It should not take long, right?

Wrong!

It takes forever. You create your main character. You build a world around him or her. You figure out his strength, his weakness, his fatal flaws, his love and what he hates. You have to think of what his challenge is and who or what will pose that challenge. Once you get that right, you have your villain, support characters (some stay, some succumb to chop-chop) and then the circumstances that lead to the story.

This is not done in a day by staring steadfastly at your laptop. This is acquired through reflection of all those things that happened in your life or that of people around you. For instance, the concept that by its very nature the Universe gravitates towards chaos, the basis of my Kronikles Series, came to me because of noticing mundane things like fading flowers and leaky rubber hose pipes in my car that wither with the passage of time.

Once you get your skeleton right, you need to buff it up with flesh and blood. There comes your story structuring. At first everything was fine on Earth and God was in Heaven. Then Lucifer brings the forbidden fruit of desire to the garden of Eden in the form of a snake where Adam and Eve, (both non-Chinese), spare the snake and eat the apple. You see, there lies your story. They were not Chinese. If they were, everything would have been fine and we would still be gliding formlessly in eternal bliss. It requires one to reflect meditatively on how important it is to be Chinese. Where were they when we needed them. Or maybe you would suggest that they consume snakes to repent the fact that they were missing in action when creation most needed them.

And thus the flesh and blood of your story starts to take shape.

Then you bring in the nervous system. How is your tale going to make the audience react. Will they be repulsed, will they feel for the Chinese hero, will they join in his quest to vandalize as many snakes as possible? It is important to involve your audience emotionally. To ache for the tragic hero or laugh with the comic one or be courageous with the mighty warrior who can do impossible feats in the air, ground and water to annihilate all vipers off the face of Earth.

So there you have it. You’ve not written a book, have you? You’ve lived through an adventure. You think your job’s done, right?

Wrong again!

Now comes the most important part of your book. Giving it the skin, the sheen, the beauty, the presentability. That, my dear people, is the editing part. No matter how well you’ve done your work, you haven’t done it well enough. Take it from me. Whoever tells you they finished the book in one sitting is either lying or they are lying. Either of the two.

According to newer belief systems (mine is about 10,000 years old), God took six days to make creation. God-took-six-days. Period.

Thus, editing is not editing. (Oh shut up. First, writing is not writing, now editing is not editing. What’s it going to be, reading is about feeling my butt?)

By that, I mean, there is no use if an author edits. An author writes. An editor, edits. One rule. No change. (how is that editing is not editing? Just read, will you!)

In my case, there were four main editors and about a million others who gave their opinion on the book. One of the four editors was from my publisher. One. A good one. A guy I like a lot. But a lot of work went into the book before he got to it.

Ultimately, it was my decision on what to keep and what to throw away in my book. A 90,000 words book was reduced to three quarters its size once the four editors finished. That is how a book is written. That is why writing a book is not about writing a book. It is about choosing the best possible way of presenting your work to the world.

In my case, the results are all four out of five star reviews in every forum and by every reviewer. I am glad I went through the pain just so I can savor the pleasure.

So, the best editing award goes to…the author!

Heck, its my book!

My eternal thanks to my wonderful editors, those fantastic skin grafters and plastic surgeons, without whom my book would not have been what it is.

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Vadhan

Author Of Best Selling Fantasy Books

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