Fiction Daily.
A blog on writing, writers and why we read. Posted most mornings by Marion Blackburn.
Fiends and editors
If you've ever worked with a "bad" boss, you know the worst kind is the superior who makes mistakes and attributes them to you.

So you can imagine that for a writer, the worst kind of hellish boss is a bad editor. These fiends rewrite your work and if that's not bad enough, they suck every bit of creativity from it. Those turns of phrases you believed in, that gave your day a purpose and meaning -- gone.

The worst are the editors who insert their own ideas into a story ... their own made-up ideas, created facts, misconstructions and outright mistakes. While writers spend their days tracking down information and constructing a story that reflects accurately on the topic (and themselves) some editors feel the facts are just not interesting enough on their own. So they make up some more.

Of course, there are all kinds of "truth" and not every line must be attributed to a source. I read a news article yesterday that felt the need to cite a reference to the observation that drug users often crush drugs and snort them. I think that's a safe statement without attribution.

Still, sometimes I use a flourish in my stories to convey a larger picture. You have to keep a reader interested. Sometimes what I describe may not have happened exactly as I describe it ... or at all ... it is an imagined scene, say in a feature story. Usually there is no harm there and the invention is stated or otherwise obvious.

No, getting the facts wrong is the stumble of arrogance and though I have many weaknesses as a writer, I have an allegiance to truth and accuracy above all else, even readability.

So now a pronouncement: For those editors who write mistakes into the stories of honest, careful and good-hearted authors, I hereby say, May your ballpoint pens always have a knobby clog that transfers to your white shirt. May your paper have a coffee spill. May your computer snarl at you unexpectedly when you are working all alone.

And may someone go behind you and edit your work ... to remove the mistakes you thought were needed and restore truth and justice to all those honest authors you've wronged.

2007-11-30 13:13:27 GMT
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