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Behind every author

13 January 2016 10:02

Christmas recedes alarmingly quickly. Doesn't it? I mean, considering the weeks (more likely months) of preparation lavished upon it. The New Year is barely into its stride before we're forging ahead once more, with barely a backward glance.


Tucked away in my wordy garret, I'm already seeing January unroll some interesting, wonderful and all-round unexpected projects - along with some rather exciting news. One of my books for children, Topz Gospels - Matthew, has been shortlisted in the children's category of the Speaking Volumes Christian Book Awards 2016. Held every two years, the Awards celebrate Christian writing with a wide appeal. So what an honour to be included alongside fabulous writers like Bob Hartman, Alison Mitchell and Claire Page. As I say, exciting news!


Whoever ultimately claims the lion's share of the public vote won't be known until May (and who knows, it might even have stopped raining by then), but it's got me thinking about the tight teamwork involved in producing each of those finished offerings on the shortlist. Because let's not forget, behind every author, more than likely there's a great copy editor.


In some ways, a manuscript is a bit like a play in rehearsal. There are actors who could probably just about pull it together themselves without a director, but would they end up with something as cohesive, as enthralling or memorable - as 'finished' - as they would without strong directorial input? Someone who can be on the outside, visualising the final production as a whole; suggesting this, coaxing that. Ensuring that everything works, both artistically and technically, to tell the story in the most effective way.


Similarly, over time, an author develops an idea, fleshes it out with characters and locations, new perspectives, twists and turns. But when that part is done, it's time to collaborate with a 'director' - the copy editor. The person on the outside of the book who works with the same critical attention to detail as a director does on a play.


And it should always be a collaboration, with both author and copy editor open to each other's point of view. There's trust involved. An author needs to believe that their baby is safe in their editor's hands; that suggestions and amendments will serve to enhance the narrative not detract from its flow or voice; that the editor wants the ultimate work to be the best it can be, just as much as its creator. The external eye spots the minutiae. And often it's the minutiae that makes all the difference.


Having been involved on both sides - as a writer being edited, and an editor working with a writer - I can honestly say, I think it's a stimulating partnership.


If you'd like to vote for my children's book, Topz Gospels - Matthew, in the Speaking Volumes Christian Book Awards 2016, it's very quick and easy. Just pop over here and give it a click - and I'll be very grateful - thank you.