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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Reading For Children and the Importance of a Good Editor

Now that I am helping moderate a couple of book clubs at the elementary school, I find myself reading more juvenile and young adult books. So far, I have come to the conclusion that these books have more thought-provoking themes than the adult novels. Or maybe not more, but rather better. Perhaps it is because young readers are still learning how to read for author intent, but I find it very enjoyable that the points children's authors are trying to get across are plain to see. In fact, it makes reading even more fun because I don't have to search for the deeper meaning that is most often hidden in the subtext.

But of course, as an English major and avid reader, I cannot help to nit-pick at times. Which is what I did with When the Cherry Blossoms Fell, by Canadian author Jennifer Maruno. I'm sure most young readers, if they caught the editing mistakes at all, wouldn't give them a second thought. But still, it distracted me and it irritated me mostly because they took me away from the beautiful narration of the story. I won't go into my review here, rather you can view it at epinions if you're so inclined. I just wanted to comment on the importance of good editing.

My own novel, Circles, has a few editing mishaps, I admit. But as far as I can tell (since no one else has brought it up) they don't distract anyone from the story. And with disclaimer of being biased, I add that I have told a great story! My point here is, as an author, writing is only half the battle. Having a proficient editor is the other half. Then you have the second battle, which is publishing, but I digress. It won't matter if your novel is an expertly-woven piece of storytelling if your editor doesn't catch the spelling, grammar, and continuity flaws that are ever present - especially when in the revision process.

A really good editor will also help a writer make sure that the point is not "too-well hidden" within the text so that the story does not become confusing. I've always been told not to make your point too obvious or it may come across as "preachy" or make the story become predictable. I wonder if children's fiction editors must have a more difficult time or if it's easier because the theme is readily available in the story. How fine a line is it in children's fiction between "too obvious" and "not obvious enough"?

I pose this question to you, readers of my blog: What were your most and least favorite stories and why? Did it also have to do with editing?