Would you edit a manuscript, or any writing that made you feel uncomfortable reading it?
I need advice about a manuscript I am editing. The author's main character is a local gangster who is living a wild and debauched lifestyle. The sex scenes are so graphic, Larry Flynt would blush! Needless to say, most of the book is like that and I'm only midway through the editing process. I don't want to diminish the author's "voice," but the porn has to get toned down. But, I'm running a business and a deal's a deal. I want to know what any other writers would do in my situation?
It all depends on the targeted audience and the type of respectability of the book which is aimed at. Whether it is going to be a very interesting and readable story with the sex scenes considerably toned down, or whether the sex scenes will end up as "USP" of the book - that is the question!
It depends on what was asked and for what reason. Sometimes it is hard to edit things we are not comfortable with, but we must remember that we are not the target of those texts and the target may want it that way (as long as it is not illegal or harmful).
Wow, that's a hard one. I work with authors on their content and only coach them on writing better through revision. I think if I was editing only and not coaching them on content, I would leave their story to their discretion unless they actually asked me to give input.
I do my own editing, and I've got graphic sex scenes in my books as well. There are only the compositor and the printer between me and the reader.
One way of getting around editing someone else's juicy bits without too much reddening of the cheeks might be to look at it in a more detached manner. See it as a grammatical exercise, to make sure it reads right. Chances are the readers might get so steamed up on the way through, they wouldn't notice the grammar.
Your job is to make their experience less of a hiccup. Just think of the bucks in your bank.
Excellent answer. This is exactly the road I would take.
I was thinking the same thing. This guy was an ex con and he would write these stories for the guys on his cell block to pass the time. The writing is great and the suspense is phenomenal! I agree with Dremer that "less would be more" with the sex
The only editing I'd do would deal with grammar and story continuity.
The assumption should be that the author (knows their target audience). Personal beliefs of one individual should not determine what is marketable. "Gangster Rap" would have never arrived on the scene if it were up to (me) and yet it's multi-billion dollar business! Internet hardcore porn is also a multi-billion dollar business!
You may want to stipulate in the future which genre of books you do not wish to edit moving forward or possibly return any payments made and refer the author to another editor.
Your best bet would be to approach it from a strictly business or structural viewpoint. In other words, sex scenes in a book still have writing structure. Some are well written and some are poorly written, but there is still a method to it the same way there is for every other aspect of a novel. I'm not saying you should go out and read a bunch of sex scenes to get an idea of what else is out there, but you can make meaningful edits towards flow, believability and grammar.
A good way to approach a sex scene is the 'less is more' mentality. Saying the names of naughty parts often comes off as silly to the reader. How can they say it without saying it? How can a subtle description make the scene more erotic than an explicit one? These kinds of things should be helpful to the writer whether they decide to drastically alter the scene or not, and you can safely feel like you've done your part.
There is the understanding that sex does sell and the combination of sex and violence can sell very well. You can't really tone it down without talking to the author first. Your job as an editor isn't to tone anything down or at least it shouldn't be. If the book tells it like it is in a sad part of the USA or where ever today then it may have some redeeming features in that.
It is one area that I would be very reluctant to touch. The old adage of see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil is crucial for a life of spiritual pursuit.
But you will need to know what you want and where you are going. You took the work and the porn may be a part of his selling point. On one level, all editors should be loyal. Still, if the voice of conscience is talking to you, then you need to listen. Is it?
You have not mentioned your character, the sum total of what creates your views on life. This material is persona non grata for the monk or nun. What are you? You speak of running a business and I know nothing of your scruples.
The spiritual way is that happiness is what takes you towards the Light, and unhappiness is that which takes you towards darkness. Love takes you to the heart and self-love is in the room of the mind. Narrowness will make you weak and expansion wil make you strong. You decide which way to go bearing in mind that you have a responsibility to the client and need to deal with this in an amicable way. Much peace.
Your answer seems extremely vague; however, I will answer it as best I can. (1), If I had no scruples, I wouldn't have inquired. (2) My first obligation is to my client, hence the dilemma of his voice vs. my opinion. (3) Self-love=heart. Ashe.
I am a spiritual seeker, Ashe. Your comments are commendable. No 2, I have already said. You simply respond as a seeker or with business principles, following your own conviction. It is not my call. I pass no judgement here.
From a business perspective, an editor's job is to edit, not to endorse what is written. From a moral perspective, that is another matter.
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