In the writer’s blogosphere, Ray Rhamey has carved out a unique place. His blog, Flogging the Quill, is one of the most-linked-to writer’s blogs and tops every blogroll. His observations regarding the craft of writing fiction are spot-on and mostly inarguable. When Ray edits a writer’s sample and modestly types “FWIW” at the end, the smart novelist knows to pay attention to his suggestions. The rest of us scurry to our current WIP’s for surgery. Kathleen and Therese had the great pleasure of interviewing Ray to get his perspective on editing, writing, and the crazy business of selling fiction.
Part 1: Interview with Ray Rhamey
Q: How did you get started in professional editing?
A: The “start” was 15 years as an advertising creative director. A big part of my work was to direct (read: edit) the work of writers to make their copy communicate the best it could, because time and space is very limited in television and print.
Then, somewhere around novel number three, I joined a critique group in Seattle. We met weekly and shared up to 10 pages of manuscript to do line editing and then critiquing on the spot. That was my first experience with editing of that kind.
After about a year, one of the members, himself a nonfiction editor, asked me to edit his manuscript (I’d only seen half of it). He was delighted with the result.
A second member asked me to do the same thing with her novel. Same result. I learned that I liked doing it, and that I could help people. I investigated editing on the Internet, and hooked up with A-1 Editing, a service operated out of Oregon. After passing an editing test, I joined their staff and did several edits for them.
Then I started my own Internet editing business at editorrr.com, and have been slowly building it.
My qualifications, then, are decades of tight focus on making language do its best, sentence by sentence and word by word. That and a natural talent and ear for language. Plus years of studying the craft through how-to books published by the likes of Writers Digest. Plus years of writing and editing my own novels.
So I came to book editing through a combination of experience, study, talent, and inclination. But doing the work of editing in that critique group was the catalyst.
Q: What’s the most common mistake you see? [Read more…]