All Star Stories Editing Process

I’m very excited. I just got my first email from Susan Groppi for All Star Stories: Twenty Epics. Although this is my fourth sale the first three were all to the same magazine and there was no editorial process. I turned it in, they paid me and printed it.

This looks like it will have a lot of give and take. My contract even mentioned “galley proofs”. Oh joy! I don’t know if other people are as delighted as I am about such things. It feels like a huge step to have a real editor working with me on my story. It feels like I’ve actually done something.

Anyway, we’re starting with “higher-level conceptual stuff” before we move on to line edits. I’m also pleased because her email shows that she definitely gets what I was doing. Which makes sense, I guess, otherwise they wouldn’t have bought the thing.

Here’s Susan’s email to me.

Mary–

Hello! Welcome to the Twenty Epics editing process. In lieu of actually passing around a paper manuscript with scribbled notes in the margins, we’re going to be handling all of this over email. What I was thinking was that we could do some higher-level conceptual kind of stuff first, and then get to the line edits once we’ve finished talking about the higher-level stuff. Does that make sense to you?

The largest issue that needs to be discussed is the cultural relationship between Li Reiko’s world and Halldor’s. You’ve done an absolutely wonderful job of putting across a great deal of information without ever resorting to exposition dumps. We know that Li Reiko is human, and mortal, but from a highly sophisticated matriarchal culture (one that I’m inclined to call technologically advanced, in that a lot of her artifacts seem like magic, but her understanding of them seems more scientific or technological). Halldor is also human and mortal, but his culture is patriarchal, sexist in a way that Li Reiko’s doesn’t seem to be, and rooted in superstition rather than technology. In terms of both language and physical appearance, Li Reiko’s culture has what I’d call Asian influences, while Halldor’s is a kind of classic fantasy Northern European feudal thing. And yet her culture is somehow an ancestor of his; six thousand years have passed inbetween, but the stories of Li Reiko’s world are part of the mythology of Halldor’s, as though her people became, in six thousand years, his people. And that’s where my problem is.

I don’t actually have any issues with the idea that the advanced and enlightened world that Li Reiko is from could be connected to the run-down one that Halldor is in. Six thousand years is a long time, after all, and civilizations lose knowledge in any number of ways. But I do think the story could benefit from some tweaking in this regard, to clarify the cultural inheritances. Before I make any suggestions at all, though, I think it would really help to hear what your thoughts on this are. Does that make any sense? If you could just, I guess, tell me what you had in mind for how Li Reiko’s civilization relates to Halldor’s, that would be a good starting point for us.

We don’t have any definite timeline on the editing process here, but I’d appreciate it if you could get back to me within the next few days. (If that’s not going to work, though, that’s totally fine, just let me know. Actually, can you just drop me a note to let me know that this email got through okay? I have a long-standing paranoia about lost emails.)

–Susan

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