Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Editing a book, like editing a movie - by Vijaya Schartz


I recently watched a documentary on film editing that got me thinking. The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing is a 2004 documentary film directed by filmmaker Wendy Apple. The film is about the art of film editing. Clips are shown from many groundbreaking films with innovative editing styles. It’s available on several streaming services, and you can also find it here: 

When I watched this documentary, I couldn’t help making comparisons. To me, it was exactly like editing a book. Action and reaction, how to handle dialogue, what to cut and what to keep, what to enhance and what to gloss over, closeup vs. wide lens, seamless transitions, when to speed up and when to slow down, pace and rhythm, focus, and using all these elements together or one by one, to enhance emotions. 

I’m often told my books are fast paced and read like movies, and maybe that’s the reason. I think like a movie editor. I’m very visual, and in my head, when I write I see the scene on a big screen in full action and color. After all, no matter the medium, writers like film makers are first and foremost storytellers. 

From this documentary, I also learned that film editors in the early stages were women and remained anonymous. Later, when it became clear that editing was an important part of the creative process, more men joined the teams. Only recently did film editors get recognized by the movie industry and received well deserved awards. 

Bad editing can ruin a good movie, and brilliant editing can save a mediocre one. So, it also is in book editing. 

That’s why I like to take time to thoroughly rewrite and edit my books like a movie, cutting, pacing, enhancing, and moving paragraphs around, breaking up descriptions and sprinkling them as dialogue tags, removing the fat, then looking for inconsistencies. Editing a book is not just looking for typos or grammar mistakes, although I hunt for them relentlessly. 

After I’ve done my very best and I like the final result, I send my new baby to my publisher… then I pray they like it, and hope my publisher’s editor will catch what I didn’t. 

I’m currently working on ANGEL SHIP, the first book in a new science fiction fantasy series (BLUE PHANTOM) set in the Azura Universe, and scheduled for release in October. 

In the meantime, you can read the two other series in the Azura Universe: Byzantium and Azura Chronicles. Available on amazon B&N - Smashwords - Kobo

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats

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