This is the first of a continuing series of columns featuring the ideas of the writers and editors of SDWEG. If you have ideas or techniques or interesting stories for our members, send your column along to firstname.lastname@example.org. —Webmaster
by Bob Boze
My coauthor and editing partner Robyn Bennett (pen name, Casey Fae Hewson) and I (Bob Boze) live 6,600 miles apart. I speak American English; she speaks British English. So, how does that benefit our readers or the writers we edit for?
To start with, when we’re not visiting one another, our primary means of communication is writing. Aside from passing our or someone else’s manuscript back and forth daily, we’ve been known to send 60 to 80 emails in one day. This usually happens when we’re in the planning stage and batting around ideas for our next book.
Five years ago, we started working together by helping Robyn with the description for her next book. Immediately, we noticed how much we thought alike. Not only thought alike but wrote alike.
That means when we’re writing and our minds are in sync, we complement one another, our transitions fit like puzzle pieces, and our writing and proofing of each other's work blends and flows. As we write, we each see the picture the other was painting, and we add to it. We feel the emotion, the smile, the hair raising on our arms, or the shivers the idea originator intended.
Aha, you say. Life is easy when you’re both in sync, but how about if one of you jumps out of sync?
Here again, our partnership works well; it sends up a red flag when we’re proofing each other’s work or someone else’s, and it gets tagged: "I don't understand… I can't see what is being said… how does this fit in… ?”
You, the reader, never get to see any of this, hopefully. But, for Robyn and I, we pride ourselves on painting pictures and feelings in everything we write: every sentence, every paragraph, every chapter. They all have to add to the picture, make you see what we’re seeing, feel what we’re feeling, or paint a new image or feeling in your mind.
In our minds, or maybe in each other's minds, would be a better way to put it; we want to be sure you see what we see. Feel with we feel. We want to pull the emotions to the surface that put you in our place, make you go where we want you to go.
It’s here that our intelligent readers (that would be all of you) will say, "Wait, if you two think and write so much alike, what makes you think we’re going to see the same picture?”
It’s not always the same picture or feeling for us. Sometimes it's really close or totally different. But when it is, our sixth sense kicks in, and we'll question it. “This is what I’m seeing… feeling… you made me smile… is that what you intended?”
You see, we’re both romantics. We’re both dreamers. We’re both observers. But our backgrounds are different enough that our emotions, images, and feelings aren't always the same. And, let's not forget the language. Yip, we both speak and write in English, but our word usage varies all over the place.
Am I forgetting something? Ah yes, sense of humor! Yip, definitely different.
All this is well and good, but what does it mean for you? Why would you care?
First, because two views are better than one, and, we think, you get the best of both. When we differ, it always seems to be on the important stuff, the things you’ll care about.
Second, we apply the things I’ve mentioned to whatever we’re editing.
Here’s also where our thinking alike comes back into play.
The nit-picky stuff gets recognized as just that and settled quite easily. But we both recognize when it’s something important to the story that it’s worth agonizing and fighting over. We don't fight since it's hard to do via email, but email helps because it forces us to explain in writing what we think is wrong and why.
When that happens, we try to delicately and subtly point out what might not be quite right with the person’s writing or direction or where it may have gone off track. We offer up suggestions to pull it back. Sometimes we don’t agree with each other’s suggestions, and that's where we either decide to discuss the point a little bit more, or one of us graciously concedes, but never at the cost of losing the reader. This, too, adds to our editing skills because we’re used to carefully explaining why something should be changed and being sensitive to feelings.
Here again, if we can’t agree on something, it gets rewritten until we’re both happy with it. We’ve even been known to change the storyline or a subplot. Why? Because if it's not working for one of us, it's likely not going to work for the readers; maybe not all of them but enough to warrant taking a different approach.
So thinking alike is great; so is thinking differently. It’s when those differences break the surface of the generally calm sea that we try and work through it as best we can; all the time thinking about how it affects the story and how the reader will feel; whether it’s your reader or ours.
Bob Boze lives in the South Bay area of San Diego, and his partner, Robyn Bennett, lives in Blenheim on New Zealand’s South Island. Both are published romance and non-fiction authors, editors, workshop presenters, speakers, bloggers, and members of the San Diego Writers and Editors Guild. Together they have over fifteen published works, several short stories and are collaborating on several more novels, short stories, articles, and other works.
Bob and Robyn also offer a variety of writer and business services through their business website, Writing Allsorts. To learn more about them, their published works, and the services they offer, go to https://writingallsorts.com/
Their latest published work is Route 66, now available on Amazon.com