29 January 2010


Writing Diary, Entry #14

Several Writing Diary entries ago, I mentioned a 1,000-word article I was writing for the October/November (read: Halloween/All Saints Day) issue of Fully Booked Zine. The whole issue is finally available online, in PDF form, for anyone who wants a crash course on today's most popular Paranormal Romance authors.

(No, Noxxtis, Sherrilyn Kenyon isn't one of them--not because she's not popular, but because I've never read one of her Paranormals.)

If you've already opened the file and seen my article, you might have noticed that the two pages it takes up are also the most boring in the entire magazine! There is exactly one graphic, which isn't related to Paranormal Romance at all, and there aren't even any light stencils (I'm guessing that's what they're called) behind the print, as there are on other pages. Why that should have been so, I still don't know, because I let my editor know the featured authors' names well in advance; and it was certainly the perfect chance to promote their respective latest releases.

So the first time I saw my spread, I was actually embarrassed. It looked like the unloved kid in a family of highly favoured children--the article the layout editor was telling readers they didn't really have to read.

Well, there's nothing I could have done about it then or can do about it now. This might be a "live and learn" moment . . . but I'm not sure what useful thing I've learned from it. (So maybe it's really "write and gripe"?)

On the other hand, a similar experience with the layout of last month's issue of Atlas TV Guide did manage to teach me something practical . . .

Two months ago, my Atlas TV Guide editor asked me to write a feature on ten documentary-style series which had made an impact on viewers over the last ten years. (This was--surprise, surprise--for the tenth anniversary of the magazine.)

I wrote a straight feature, starting the article with what I consider one of the best shows of the Noughties, Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe, and concluding with the more obscure G.K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense. I was pretty happy with the list because it covered a wide range of both network and cable programming, neglecting only the sports channels, which I truly never watch. (Mea culpa?)

Then the issue came out and I stopped being so happy. You see, the layout editor had decided to format my article as a countdown, and had printed all my paragraphs in reverse order.

Well, I'm not going to go all Howard Roark on them and dynamite their offices . . . but I wish they had told me. It would have made a real difference. It mattered to my writing, you see, that MTV Cribs (a show about the enviable new homes of the rich and glitzy) preceded QTV's Balikbayan (a show about the humble hometowns of the rich and glitzy): I made the transition with the line, "What's truly touching, however, is seeing a celebrity's human side . . ."

Since the list was printed backwards, Balikbayan was preceded by Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. So the article ultimately reads as if I were saying that "families in need and communities with heart" are not as touching as "a celebrity's human side"--which makes horrible sense! The rest of list just comes across as very disjointed.

And the moral of this story is . . .

When your editor asks you for a Top 10 list, ask whether she wants the entries numbered 1 to 10 or 10 to 1.


Paul Stilwell said...

But how do such people end up becoming editors?

Enbrethiliel said...


Your guess is as good as mine! Meanwhile, I have been waiting for an opening on the staff of Fully Booked Zine for almost a year . . .

Noxxtis said...

XD You really love JR Ward, don't you?

Supernatural romances are very addictive, I should think. Maybe because it's a farther escape from reality than regular romance novels?

Enbrethiliel said...


Why does everyone think it's J.R. Ward??? =S