Today I welcome August Li to the blog to share his thoughts on the editing process.
1) Tell us a bit about you and your writing
Most of all, I like to write weird and experimental stories with odd premises and unconventional protagonists. I work hard to make them not only accessible, but also entertaining. I also like to mash genres, and most of my books are some combination of fantasy, science fiction, suspense, mystery, action/adventure, steampunk, cyberpunk, alternative history, and crime drama. I am published by Dreamspinner Press and their imprints DSP Publications and Harmony Ink Press.
2) What do you enjoy most about the editing process?
I like to see my characters through new eyes and to see if my impression of them is the same as that of others. Even when it isn’t, I usually learn something new about that character, some facet of them that my subconscious probably supplied that I overlooked and could potentially push further to help that character be fully realized.
3) What do you find hardest about the editing process?
Trimming. Even when I know it needs to be done and will benefit the story, it can hurt to remove details. I am also a visual artist, so I can tend toward wanting readers to know exactly what something looks like—people, landscapes, clothing, buildings, the sky, light…. I do a fair job at it, too, but it can really make the story drag and often has to go.
4) What are your general thoughts on editing as part of the overall publishing process?
Well, the two previous comments demonstrate just a couple of reasons why I think it is as integral as the writing itself. Every writer needs an editor. I am an editor—a Senior Editor for a large publisher. I’ve been one for close to a decade. Yet I would never put anything out into the world without working with an editor—and not just a proofreader. I can do line edits on my own work. What I can’t do is look at it objectively. I don’t have the psychic distance, and I don’t believe any writer does. We see what we intended to portray, and that can be incongruous with what’s on the page. As cliché as it is, it really is like trying to see the flaws in one’s children. There can be a fine line between a badass rebel and an arrogant jerk.
5) What are your top editing-related tips for authors?
Separate yourself from the work. A critique of your novel is not a critique of you. It isn’t personal. And if you can find an editor who isn’t afraid to be honest, can pinpoint flaws and suggest strategies for fixing them and strengthening the book, grab onto them and don’t let go. You have to be willing to take the pain sometimes to get the result you want. It’s like exercise, I guess. No pain no gain, and the more you sweat (and suffer sometimes) the more improvement you’ll see.
About the Author
August Li plays every game as a mage. He thinks the closest thing to magic outside of games and fantasy is to bring things into existence from nothing, which he does in words and images. As a proud trans man, he hopes to bring diversity and representation to all those who want to see themselves in the art and stories they enjoy. He’s a perfectionist, travel enthusiast, and caffeine addict.
Gus makes his home on the coast of South Carolina, where he spends his days in search of merpeople, friendly cats, and interesting pieces of driftwood. He collects ball-jointed dolls, tattoos, and languages. He believes in faeries and thinks they’re terrifying… but still wants to meet one.