Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

Editing with a Jewelers Loupe

Appraisal of GemstonesI had the privilege and pleasure of interviewing middle grade and YA author Maryrose Wood last night for our Wednesday night Writers Speak series at Stony Brook Southampton. Maryrose is everything you might wish the author of a delightfully satirical and superbly written series called The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place to be… smart, witty, quick, fun and completely original. She is also an accomplished writing teacher, with a keen eye for what constitutes good writing, and she offered a number of insights during the interview and at dinner afterwards that made me wish I’d brought my notebook.  At one moment, she described her own editing process as “like looking at every single word with a jewelers loupe” to assess its value.

We had a fine time, chatting over our vegetarian pasta about the dangers of passive language, redundancies, cheesy modifiers and other writing mistakes – and I am so looking forward to welcoming Maryrose back to the campus this summer,when she will teach a middle grade workshop as part of the Southampton Children’s Literature Conference and Fellows program.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a blogpost of hers that I dug up in preparation for last night’s interview, one that I think is so full of good writing and editing advice, it’s like a mini-workshop in and of itself. Talk about looking at each word with a jeweler’s loupe…  I loved it so much that I printed it out for myself to file for future reference. You can see it here:

Maryrose Wood’s Lesson in Revision





5 Responses to “Editing with a Jewelers Loupe”
  1. Thanks for sharing that “gem”….I so agree with her shared quote on young adult novels. I always read about 5(grown-up)books at a time but due to work schedules, life etc – they take me forever.. Sometimes it is a true escape to breeze through a teen novel and often, if well written, it can be quite a delight. I enjoyed reading Maryrose’s post. I may very well check out her series, as I hadn’t heard of it. Thanks again.

  2. Dodo van Uden says:

    Great blogpost of Maryrose Wood, Emma! Not only very instructive, but also very funny. Thanks for sharing.
    The thousands of millions = billions issue made me chuckle. Talk about redundancy (*grin*). ‘Billions’ is accurate, ‘thousands of millions’ is exaggerated, to convey an impression of ‘very much’ ‘millions’ would be plenty, I think.

  3. How I wish I could have been at Stony Brook Southampton for that interview! (Potential Hub Expert Interview person, perhaps?) Thank you so much for the link to her blog post. What an excellent analysis. The paragraph she worked through is the sort of thing that mesmerizes the reader, so that you think you’ve read lovely prose, then your brain kicks in and says, “Wait — what?” Definitely not the reaction we want from our readers! I will be checking out her blog more thoroughly.

  4. Tabatha says:

    Enjoyed seeing Maryrose’s editing process unfold — thanks for sharing this link. I smiled at “the sting of my well-meaning ruler across the knuckles of his prose.” She sounds like a poet.

  5. I can sort of see both sides to the novel/short story question in a writing sample and SOP. On the one hand, having begun a novel shows a certain amount of vision and drive. Plus, I imagine programs prefer their graduates publish novels, since they have a far larger readership than short story collections. But on the other hand, the workshop is more or less built around the short story. And some programs clearly prefer them in writing samples (UT Austin is one example of a program that, I believe, explicitly discourages novel excerpts). Ultimately, as we’ve all heard before, your best writing is your best writing, regardless of the form. But regarding the SOP, I can certainly see how it would be a positive to mention a potential novel, as long as it doesn’t make you sound conceited or un-teachable. And I say this as someone you doesn’t have a novel or novel idea (though I wish I did). How many other people out there have begun novels?

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