Sunday, February 22, 2009

Meet the Editor: Shelley Thrasher

You know her as:

Shelley Thrasher is a consulting style editor for an up-and-coming book company. She teaches an online fine-arts course at the college where she retired and posts a poem weekly on her blog. Shelley has just completed a memoir/historical novel set during World War One and looks forward to publishing it.
When did you first notice you were hung up on typos?
After I became an editor, I could no longer read a book for pleasure because the typos began to leap out at me, and still do.

What advice would you give someone interested in becoming an editor?
Know the basic rules of composition and grammar, and know when to break them. Before I became an editor I earned a BA, MA, and PhD in English, taught English on the college level for many years, and attended many writers’ workshops. After picking up my editor’s pen, I still had to rely on the more experienced editors at our company for tips about how to edit fiction.

Be prepared to realize you don’t know everything about writing and never will.

Enjoy learning something new every day.

What's the best advice you have ever received from a writer?
“Don’t correct my writing. Point out what I’m doing and explain why it isn’t effective, then let me change it myself.”

What's the best advice you've given a writer?
Give yourself plenty of time to complete your book. Take breaks between drafts so you can view them objectively each time you revise them.

In your opinion, what makes an editor great?
The ability to become excited about an author’s story but not yield to the temptation to take it over. The ability to help a writer fulfill her potential to the fullest.

What's the one misperception about editors you want to clear up? We don’t know everything about writing, and we sometimes forget a character’s eye or hair color, even if we read it only five pages earlier.

Why should a writer choose to work with you?
Because I’m very patient, I’m kind most of the time, I’ve had a lot of experience, and I always meet my deadlines.

What genres do you focus on? Why?
I focus on romance and literary novels. The romances make money for our company, so I am assigned many of them. The literary novels don’t make as much money, but I prefer them because I have studied and taught literature most of my life. The literary novels are not formulaic like the romances, and their authors use more metaphorical language and create more in-depth characters.
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  1. Hi Shelley - I especially like this advice: "Enjoy learning something new every day."

    That's true in all things.

  2. Shelley, good advice. So nice to get to know more about you. I also enjoy literary novels for the depth of characterization.

  3. That thing about hair and eye color. It's easy to forget, especially if you have more than one book done and another in the works. Good idea to write that kind of info down.

    Morgan Mandel

  4. Helen, my mom has always been big on learning. I think it came from growing up on a farm in East Texas where books were as precious as turkeys' teeth.

    Thanks, Maryann. I'll probably be moving to the Tyler area soon, so maybe we can get together and compare notes on literary novels.

    Morgan. You're so right about writing down that type of information. I need to follow your advice more carefully. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. You know, when writing, I keep a spreadsheet of charcters - their names, relationships, characteristics. It never occured to me to add things like hair and eye coler, nor did it occur to me to share the spreadsheet with an editor. Thanks to your post, I'll be making changes.

  6. sounds like a brilliant editor. The editor of the magazine i write for here in Thailand, doesn't know left from right.

    Additionally she changes right things to wrong things. Ever since she became an editor the magazine has been constantly laughed at by others for typos and silly mistakes

    I love the advice from the writer i think its lovely!

    Thanks for posting it was so nice to read!


  7. Hi, Shelley: Funny to find you here ... have you moved? I still think of you fondly!

    Shannon Crane
    Pittsboro, NC


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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