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Playing Editor – Booking Through Thursday

 btt button

This week’s Booking Through Thursday question is:

How about a chance to play editor-in-chief? Fill in the blanks:

__________ would have been a much better book if ________________.

Ah, a chance to play God? I know there’s lots of writers out there, but I’m embarassed to say that part of the reason I read is because I can’t write. I mean, I can put together a basic sentence (an elementary school level sentence, but a sentence nonetheless), but a novel? Maybe in my next life.

And I have to say that I don’t think I can answer this question. Not because I don’t want to, but because the story is done. Finished. Is there things I would have liked different? Well, yeah, of course, but then it’s not the author’s story, it’s mine.

Would I have liked Scarlett not to be so pig headed? Yes. Would I like Anita Blake to stick to her morals and stop sleeping around? Yes. Would I like Atonement to move a little quicker? Yes. Would I have liked things to have ended differently in Bel Canto? Yes. But would these stories be the same if I changed them? No, I don’t think they would.

This makes me think of my own life. Would you go back and change things? I definitely have regrets (nothing major, just things I would do differently if I could), things I wish I’d handled differently or done differently, but on the other hand they make up who I am. An authors job is not to invent someone perfect or give us the neat, tidy ending we I secretly crave, but to tell a good story. A good story will stick with me far longer than a mediocre story that has an ending I like and characters that are dull. I know that editors are needed and can really help mold a story, but I think I’ll pass on that job for now.

So what do you think? I’m sure you’ve got a much better answer than me, so prove me right in the comments. 😀

If you’ve already answered this question on your blog, leave a comment anyway and I’ll come see what your answer was.

| Tags: , , , 30 comments »

30 Responses to “Playing Editor – Booking Through Thursday”

  1. Melody

    I agree with your thoughts, Trish. 😀

    [Reply]

  2. Ann Darnton

    Yes, I agree with you as well. There are all sorts of things I wish hadn’t happened out there in the literary world, but at bottom I know they had to. I’m beginning to think that my answer is going to be along similar lines.

    [Reply]

  3. thatsthebook

    I like your answer. I chose a book I would change because over all it would have been a book if it were only presented in a different way.

    [Reply]

  4. Nithin

    A very good answer.

    I’ve finished reading half of Bel Canto, so now I’m really curious as to how it ends. 🙂

    [Reply]

  5. Jennifer

    You’ve got me rethinking me answer now! Good point though. The ones that make you think are often the ones that don’t go exactly as you would like or expect.

    [Reply]

  6. Stephanie

    Actually, your answer is pretty similar to mine!! So, I think it’s a GREAT answer!

    [Reply]

  7. Amy(The Sleepy Reader)

    Great answer and I agree!

    [Reply]

  8. bkclubcare

    Wow, you are a GOOD reader! Not ever wanting to edit or critique a story SETUP? I do it all the time. but mostly in curiosity of how the process happens. I’m fascinated by hearing how authors get their ideas and how they ‘listen’ to the characters tell it and just write what they hear. From an editing perspective, I sometimes find myself wondering about length or a more concise sentence structure or WOW – when I find a misspelled word, I really question the publisher! (never the author – I assume it’s a typo.)

    [Reply]

  9. shereadsbooks

    Oh, Bel Canto… you’re right. I too would have preferred a different ending — but I don’t think another ending could ever be.

    My own answer was a bit different — because I do relish the chance to critique books. Not too harshly, I hope.

    [Reply]

  10. Lezlie

    Hi, Trish!

    I hesitated, too, but after a disclaimer, I did come up with an answer. I agree with you though. And I don’t think I’ve ever been sorry I’ve read a book. Even one I didn’t like. There always seems to be something to learn from them.

    [Reply]

  11. BooksPlease

    Good answer. I didn’t take the question very seriously, but I agree with you that it’s the author’s story – leave well alone.

    [Reply]

  12. Heather (errantdreams)

    An interesting and thoughtful take on the subject!

    [Reply]

  13. Samantha Stopple

    I’m in agreement. Most of the time the things I don’t like are personal.

    [Reply]

  14. bethany canfield

    well….it is fun just to think about how we could switch things up sometimes. not that they would really work out better, or even work out at all…but for some reason i really enjoyed this BTT.

    [Reply]

  15. lisamm

    I love your answer, Trish!

    [Reply]

  16. Idaho Gal

    I will admit that there is something about reading a book that I don’t particularly enjoy that is entertaining in the end. I think its the process of realizing why I’m bored or upset that I enjoy. It makes me appreciate my reading more.

    [Reply]

  17. CJHill

    You make a very good point, but I have no problem pointing out a weakness in a book. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the book, just that I think it could’ve been a little better.

    cjh

    [Reply]

  18. chartroose

    I’ve got one, but I’ll save it for a later post. There are actually several books I’d like to change because my opinions are always right ( :

    Have a great weekend!

    [Reply]

  19. A

    I had an answer here: http://gocrazybananza.blogspot.com/2008/03/booking-through-thursday-7.html

    But I have to say that most of the time I agree with you, which made it so easy to identify Special Topics in Calamity Physics as a book I thought could use some major surgery. Most of the time, if I really love a book, I accept the content–I can see the logic behind it–and as a writer I feel like you often sense that things can only happen ONE WAY without feeling false. But there are some style or construction mistakes (like with Special Topics) in some books that could have afforded to be addressed.

    [Reply]

  20. John Mutford

    You know the adage about not being able to please all the people? It’s as true when applied to books as anything else (such as Booking Through Thursday questions). For instance, I’m one of those rare folks that enjoyed the punctuation liberties in The Road and Blindness though from comments that I’ve read, many would have preferred a grammar stickling editor had used their red pens on those.

    [Reply]

  21. pussreboots

    Your answer is better written than mine. Mine is just a rant about Harry Potter.

    [Reply]

  22. Kris

    I like your answer and agree. I was able to pick a book for my answer because it was a recent read, a new author, and it just read like a new author. I hope that makes sense. There were too many different stories within the one book – that it was confusing. I would have changed that.

    [Reply]

  23. softdrink

    Excellent point. I couldn’t even think of a coherent answer for this week, so I left well enough alone. Which means I shouldn’t be a writer, either. Or an editor.

    [Reply]

  24. Idaho Gal

    Yes, I will keep reading a book even if I don’t enjoy it (well, I’ll try my best, it doesn’t always work).

    [Reply]

  25. Susan Helene Gottfried

    I was originally thinking along the same lines as you, Trish, but then I took the easy way out. Since I AM unlucky enough to be a writer.

    But you’re right. Once you start tinkering with someone else’s book, you’ve got … fan fiction. Which rocks, but it’s not the same.

    [Reply]

  26. Maree

    A very thoughtful take on a thought-provoking question. I too, went for Harry Potter.

    [Reply]

  27. Will Entrekin

    Just one guy who thinks that Harry Potter, besides book 5, is perfect.

    I would’ve changed The Great Gatsby. If I’d been Perkins, I would’ve encouraged Fitzgerald to clean up the chronology and put some muscle and consequence into the plot.

    Also, I’d have tried to get Niffenegger to clean up/clarify the final 100 pages of The Time Traveler’s Wife.

    And I’d have told both Stephen King and Michael Chabon to cut thousands of words from their manuscripts; both writers are, simply, better when they’re shorter.

    Finally, I’d tell Hugh Laurie to write more. Just because he’s fucking awesome, and who’da thunk House could write a good novel?

    [Reply]

  28. curlywurlygurly

    i would like to pipe up here and say:

    The Almost Moon would have been a much better book if I never actually read it and just admired the cover.

    [Reply]

  29. mellymel

    You make an excellent point with your answer. I am thinking that there are a few books that I wouldn’t want rewritten but I would want re-edited. 🙂

    [Reply]

  30. Annie

    Just stumbled on your blog. Great read!

    I only ever find myself making suggestions when something is really bad but I liked your take on things! I guess books are like people in a way…we either like them warts and all or we don’t like them at all!

    [Reply]

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