The joys of editing—and getting thanked for it

editing

When I write private projects, I have editing colleagues check it over. It’s amazing how much they find. It’s true: everybody needs a good editor. Even editors do.

Full disclosure: this post is essentially an ad for my substantive editing services. You’ve been warned. 🙂 But, you know, read it anyway; you never know when you’re going to need a good editor.

Okay, here goes.

I’m not one of those guys who gets all self-effacing when I’m praised. You will never hear me say, “I’m so humbled to be included in this list of nominees”

I love being nominated for and winning prizes.

And, when the authors whose work I edit thank me, I feel both relieved and celebratory. After all, editing somebody’s book is a very intimate thing to do. And it’s a big deal. [Read more…]

Get yourself a writing mentor through Vancouver Manuscript Initiative

Vancouver Manuscript Initiative, Karen Tulchinsky

Karen Tulchinsky is one of the accomplished mentors who could help you to hone your craft.

Hey writers.

Through a program called Vancouver Manuscript Intensive, you can get yourself a personal mentor.

And the mentors are pretty great. They include: Karen X. Tulchinsky (screenplays), Claudia Casper (novels), and Shaena Lambert (novels and short stories).

The deadline for applications is November 17. Here’s the URL: http://vancouvermanuscriptintensive.com. Get on it!

Story structure is liberating. Really!

CSF8FLBUYAUlKFt

Riveting radio: me talking about the editing process

Co-op Radio, editing

The people! United! Will never! Stop! Talking!

On Tuesday (June 2), I had a great time talking about literary editing with hosts Julia Vergara and Art Hartmut on the Co-op Radio program, The Writing Life.

We had a great time chatting about sometimes surprising things. Theatre kept sneaking in. And so did the lessons that both literature and theatre teach us about compassion.

Here’s the link: http://riotousrhymes.blogspot.ca

The whole thing runs about 24 minutes, but you can jump around.

Tune in: three-act structure and me on Co-op Radio

three-act structure, Vancouver Co-op Radio, editing

Okay, so this is a boring image, but YOU try to come up with an image for “three-act structure”.

This afternoon (Tuesday, June 2) between 2:00 and 2:30, I’m going to be on Co-op Radio talking about the editing process.

Knowing me, I’ll probably bring up the three-act structure, which is a very handy tool. For easy reference, here it is: [Read more…]

Want me to edit your book, story, or screenplay?

Vancouver editor, substantive editor, story editor

My trusty pencils and I can help you out.

When I’m not working as a theatre critic, I’m a substantive editor, which means “story editor”. I help writers with narrative structure, so I deal a lot with plot, but also elements such as the development of characters and themes.

Normally, I’m booked three or four months ahead, but right now I’m only booked a month ahead. That’s why I’m offering my friends’ rate, which is a great deal, to anybody who asks for it.

Check out my website, www.colinthomas.ca if you want to know more about my life as an editor. I’m especially proud of the testimonials you’ll find there.

Do You Think This Is Strange?

Do You Think This Is Strange? Brindle and Glass, Aaron Drake, Colin Thomas

Aaron Drake’s new novel is a thing of beauty.

I am so proud to be associated with this novel that I cried when the hard copy arrived in the mail this morning.

Do You Think This Is Strange? is narrated in the voice of a 17-year-old autistic boy. It’s funny, it’s heart-wrenching, and it’s beautifully structured.

Brindle and Glass (Victoria) is the publisher: http://brindleandglass.com/index.php. Buy it.

And, shameless self-promotion (because I want to edit more books that are this good), here’s what Aaron, the writer, had to say about me in his acknowledgements: “[Publisher] Taryn demonstrated some kind of genius when she paired me with Colin Thomas, my editor, because he turned out to have an unnerving knack of knowing where the bullshit was. My book has been a lengthy process of cutting off the unnecessary fat, and Colin was a master of separating the tissue from the bone.”

The queer GGs

Everything's coming up GGs for queer writers, including Vancouver's Raziel Reid

Everything’s coming up GGs for queer writers, including Vancouver’s Raziel Reid

It’s a good year for queer artists at the Governor General’s Awards: FOUR queer artists were honoured when the prizes were announced on Tuesday—and two of them are from Vancouver.

Jordan Tannahill, who’s based in Toronto, won in Drama for Age of Minority: Three Solo Plays. All of the scripts in that collection feature queer adolescent protagonists. Tannahill’s Late Company, which is also queer-themed opens in Vancouver on Friday.

Vancouver writer Michael Harris topped the Non-Fiction category with The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection.

Twenty-four-year-old Vancouverite Raziel Reid took the Children’s Literature Award for text for When Everything Feels Like the Movies, which features a gay teen protagonist.

And Arlene Paré took the poetry prize for Lake of Two Mountains.

Yay. 🙂

Save the English language: learn the difference between “to lie” and “to lay”

What's the difference between to lie and to lay?

This handsome man is LYING in bed. He may LAY down his screen. (He may also GET LAID.)

When I’m working as an editor, one of the mistakes I see most often is the misuse of to lie and to lay. I’m a substantive editor in the publishing world and a story editor (same thing) in the movie world. I help writers to build and shape their narratives. Grammar doesn’t really come into it. But this particular grammatical error drives me nuts.

Here’s the difference between the two verbs: to lie doesn’t have a direct object; to lay does. So you lie in bed and you lay your iPad on the bedside table. (iPad is the object.)

Things get confusing in the past tense because lay is the past tense of lie. (Why, dear God?) So you say, “I lay in bed yesterday”. And laid is the past tense of lay. So you say, “Yesterday, I laid my iPad on the table.”

If the past tense is messing with your head and, if you’re interested in using these verbs correctly—which, I understand, you may not be—don’t worry about the past tense. Just remember: in the present tense, to lie has no direct object, but to lay does. You do NOT lay down; you lie down.

Establish the present tense as a beachhead and, once that’s secure, go boldly forth from there.

Second thoughts—well, further thoughts—about Since You Left Us

Since You Left Us, Susinn McFarlen, Presentation House, Vancouver theatre

The cast of Susinn McFarlen’s “Since You Left Us” will make you belly laugh

With annoying regularity, I’ll write a review that goes online or into print, and I’ll think, “Damn! I wish I’d analyzed that more perceptively” That happened recently with my review of Susinn McFarlen’s Since You Left Us.  [Read more…]