- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (August 17, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393332179
- ISBN-13: 978-0393332179
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #153,384 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself Reprint Edition
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Bell addresses a variety of questions: What is editing? How has editing evolved over the years? How do various authors approach self-editing? Tracy Kidder, Ann Patchett, Michael Ondaatje, among others, contribute their thoughts on this topic. What is the difference between macro and micro-editing? Why was F. Scott Fitzgerald's association with Maxwell Perkins considered to be "one of history's most rewarding editor-writer collaborations"? How can a writer navigate the editing process with a minimum of angst?
A writer's first draft is just the initial step in the creative process: "If writing builds the house, nothing but revision will complete it." Editing is an art, not a science; there is no one-size-fits-all method that works for everyone. However, certain universal principles apply to most types of writing. Any self-editor should aim for clarity, precision, and freshness. He should try to eliminate redundancies, obscure references, pretentiousness, and discontinuity.Read more ›
In Chapter one, Bell generalizes about some unorthodox methods of reviewing your work, like pinning your pages on a clothes-line so you can "see the big picture," or writing your prose in longhand; sometimes she talks about the pluses and minuses of using a computer. What I didn't like about these suggestions is that they border on cliche. I've heard them all before. The second and third chapters are about macro- and micro-editing, respectively. In these two chapters (as well as in a few other places) Bell uses The Great Gatsby and Fitzerald's relationship with his editor, Max Perkins, to review some general principles of editing. She talks about structure and symbolism in Chapter 2, and things like avoiding "ing" verbs, adverbs, and adjectives, and when to "show" and when to "tell," in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 is her sycophantic exercise towards the painters and the photographers; Chapter 5 is a short history of editing (not much about the self-editing process here).Read more ›
Bell offers a considered meditation on various questions related to editing - what it is, how is it done, what purpose does it serve? For each question she looks at the works of different writers to consider both their answers to these question and their methods in considering their own works. These writers, often quoted at length, give the reader a sense that Bell shares the quality that surely must exist in all great editors, that being humility.
Of particular pleasure is Bell's use of perhaps the greatest American novel of the last century "The Great Gatsby." Considering this classic, Bell presents text from the draft Fitzgerald first presented to his editor, the notes and comments of that editor, and then Fitzgerald's thoughts and rewrites. Of course, Fitzgerald was fortunate to work with Max Perkins, who worked with many of the best American writers of his time, and is widely considered the master of his craft.
As I mentioned, non-writers may not find her efforts useful, particularly as it relates to seeking to "perfect" one's work. But for writers, this thoughtful work will provoke more than a little thought and more than a single reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I highly recommend The Artful Edit. Over the years I have bought many HowTo books. From each I learned something (if not much). Read morePublished 11 months ago by henya
Nice to have an editing book come from a woman, especially since the majority of the field is female.Published 13 months ago by Katie Sipos
Susan Bell is that rare hybrid of author and editor. Her lessons are substantiated with examples from the best in the business- Robert Gottlieb, Gordon Lish.Published 15 months ago by Brandon Caro
Very valuable work for any writer--and the analysis of The Great Gatsby will be helpful to any teacher of writing....Published 17 months ago by Roy Sherwood
Well written, well thought out, and a lot of good but firm advice. Just what i was looking for. Susan really talks mainly about Micro and macro editing, the difference, gives a... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Summer Ross