Despite the fact that I have been badgered incessantly into reading the OMG-amazing-can’t-put-down 50 Shades of Grey series, I have resisted the temptation. It hasn’t been too hard considering 99% of the people who recommend them to me are people who haven’t opened a book since they left school.
My reader friends are all in agreement that they should be avoided like the plague and considering everything I have heard about them, I have been happy to do so.
Then, on the NaNoWriMo on the forums someone sent me to the link for Jenny Trout’s recaps of the series. Link
They are hilarious in parts and thought-provoking in others. They highlight various problems with the books ranging from poor writing to the whole abuse/BDSM debate.
I am not going to get into the latter debate. I have not, and will not, read the books. I know what my opinion is, having read the excerpts in the recaps, but since I haven’t read the books my opinion is probably somewhat biased.
This isn’t to say that I agree with everything Jenny has said in her recaps. I disagree on the fucking / making love debate for example. I believe there is a difference and in romances sometimes it is necessary to highlight that difference.
I do however think her writing tips – albeit in the form of snarky digs and rants – are worth a look.
I admit that some of the things she picks at are things I have done myself. I have been picked up on hissing words that can’t be hissed, and goodness knows no matter how hard to try to eliminate them, repetitions are always there. These things, and many more, have been brought to my attention by my editors and fixed before the book releases.
Well, apart from the secondary character who had a name change in one of my books and it slipped past me and three editors! No doubt there are other instances of my clumsy writing or repetition missed somewhere along the line, but hopefully not to the extent that they are apparently overlooked in 50 Shades.
And that is where we get to the point of this post.
E.L. James, for whatever reason, allowed her book to be released seemingly riddled with plot inconsistencies, incorrect word usage, poor phrasing, word repetition, and pretty much everything our editors look for.
Now, I have worked with several different editors over the last few years. I have enjoyed working with all of them, and I hope that they liked working with me too.
So I would like to say a big thank you to all of my editors for making sure my stories are as polished as they can be. Because if it weren’t for you, it could easily be one of my books being picked apart line by line and scene by scene some time down the line. Okay, yeah, not ever going to happen, but I am sure every author would agree with me when I say, no matter how much we bitch about edits, we would all much rather suffer through endless rounds of them in private than have our stories thrust into the spotlight like 50 Shades has been.
In a small way I feel rather sorry for E.L. James, but then I wonder how many people must have gone over these books before they were released. I find it impossible to believe that a bestselling author doesn’t have some of the sharpest editors in the business working with her.
At the end of the day, these are our stories we are putting out there, and the responsibility should always stop with the author. If you don’t want your story to be sporked in a chapter by chapter analysis, then listen to the advice of your editors. Take on board what they suggest. Yes, argue a point if you think they are wrong. Editors are human too and sometimes they might have made a mistake, but they want the books they edit to be as good as they can be, just like we authors do.
So the next time you get those edits in your inbox and want to sigh with frustration at the amount of work you have in front of you, think for a moment about what the alternative could be. Somehow, those edits don’t seem quite so bad after all, do they?