Please welcome Ann Mitchell, who will describe her editorial experience as part of the Triangle Sisters in Crime anthology:

What’s the Deal With Editors, Anyway?
Carolina Crimes cover
As you’re no doubt aware, writing contests are a great way to get your work recognized and hopefully, published. That was the case when the Triangle chapter of the international organization of Sisters in Crime held a contest, open to members of SinC in North and South Carolina. It had to be a crime story, naturally, and the theme was sex. A titillating proposition, to be sure. Short stories selected would be published—a wonderful opportunity in and of itself. However, for me this contest held an extra draw: the chance to work with an editor.

Of course, I knew an editor would give me the basics: correcting grammar, punctuation, and the like. Beyond that, though, I was a bit hazy. I wanted the chance to get my feet wet in other stages of the writing process, so I gave it a shot. Having an interest in technology, I wrote about a futuristic simulation video game that leads to murder. To my delight, my short story was one of the ones selected to be included in the anthology that would become Carolina Crimes: Nineteen Tales of Lust, Love and Longing. I found that Karen Pullen, the editor, was an established writer and I looked forward to her remarks on my story. And before long, that day arrived.

My initial reaction after perusing the marked up copy was, “Hey! What’s the deal? It couldn’t have been THAT bad. After all, it was chosen to be included in the first place!” Even though I was a member of a critique group and used to getting constructive criticism on my work, my ego had become a bit bruised (seriously though, there were A LOT of notes). After ruminating a bit, I licked my wounds and went back to the marked up copy. This time, I had a different reaction. All of Karen’s editorial notes made perfect sense. After stepping away and coming back with an open mind, I realized that none of the suggested changes took away from my original story but made it cleaner, more consistent and readable. So, after one, no, two … okay, several re-workings, the result was an improved story that we were both very pleased with.

Then came the copy editor’s notes. Sigh.

In the end, it was exactly the experience I’d been looking for. I learned a great deal from Karen’s insights that I believe will make me a better writer, which, published or not, is what we all strive for. Most of all, I found that the editing and revision process is a collaborative effort that aims to produce the best result possible for the readers. It’s difficult to be objective about your own work, but a little humility goes a long way. You may just find that your work becomes something better than even you imagined.

I’m very proud to be included in Carolina Crimes: Nineteen Tales of Lust, Love, and Longing, along with these talented writers: Britni Patterson, Tamara Ward, Toni Goodyear, RF Wilson, E.B. Davis, Bonnie Wisler, Donna Campbell, Karen Pullen, Joanie Conwell, Linda Johnson, Ruth Moose, Sarah Shaber, Calvin Hall, Jamie Catcher, Meg Leader, Antoinette Brown, Polly Iver, Judith Stanton.

Marjorie Ann Mitchell is a business analyst for a tech company in North Carolina and freelance writer. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Write On!, and The Raleigh Write to Publish writing groups as well as The Holly Springs Writers Guild. She graduated with a B.S. in Accounting from Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. She has an interest in the Science Fiction/Fantasy genres as well as essays that reflect social commentary.

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