[Music suddenly begins to play as colored lights turn on, aimed at a—] Is that a disco ball in my living room? And why am I standing on a long red carpet?
SK: Good morning, Lynda! When I was stalking your blog, I couldn't help but catch your Editor's Notes about Style Sheep, so I decided to bring him here for you to meet. He even graciously agreed to put on a fashion show just for you! [Grins.]
ER: Well, he certainly is . . . um . . . stylish. I can't say as I've ever seen a sheep with a nicer scarf than I own. And that hat!
SK: Cute! Right?
ER: Uh, yeah. Except I think you may have misunderstood me. I use a style SHEET when I edit. You know, a document that has all the pertinent information about a manuscript. A notebook. A bunch of paper. A Word file. A—
SK: Nonsense! I read between the lines and understood as bright as a star: the style sheep is your first go-to when you start editing. Why is it, though? You dress to match? Like each MS gets a specific outfit that inspires editing?
ER: Really, there is no "between the lines." I really do use words on paper. You know, like a character's name, hair color, job, physical description, quirks . . .
SK: Well, yeah. I mean of course you'll need to know their name, hair colors, and physical description if you want to dress appropriately to edit them. I so get it. But can you just watch Mr. Style Sheep walk down the carpet now so we can go have coffee?
ER: [Sighs heavily.] All right, get that sheep to walk down the red carpet and get him out of my house. What's up with the animals inside the house? You're freaking out AndyAndy on a regular basis. And now he'll probably want a hat and scarf, too. And for goodness' sake, get the lights and disco ball turned off before Tim comes downstairs . . . can the sheep walk any faster? I don't care if he's trained to take his time and preen for the cameras. [Prods sheep with toe.] Move it, mister.
SK: AndyAndy is in on it; he just frets to you so you can scratch his back. Aww, look at Style Sheep go. Good thing the carpet goes straight out the door. And now COFFEE!
I didn't make or bring anything this time, I hope you have some goodies for us. [Looks around kitchen.] So tell me, when you're editing, it's like Superman isn't it? A secret that isn't so secret identity but can only be done with the cape—or whatever—on?
ER: I don't know how to convince you, but I'll say it again: I have no super-duper secrets when I'm editing. I'm not Superman, wearing a cape. I'm just plain Lynda. I sit down with my laptop and my Chicago Manual of Style, and I write things as I read them. I see a name? I write it. Is he tall? Dark hair? Of course all the best characters have dark hair, right? I write it. Later in the book, if there's a squiggle under that person's name, I check to see if it's really a misspelling or if Word just doesn't recognize it. If an author tells me she doesn't like semicolons, I note that. If he loves adverbs exceedingly much and I think he needs to ditch them, I'll note the ones used most often and count them.
SK: Oh yes, dark hair! [Stares into space.]
Ahem, anyway . . . I almost believed that! You said it with such a straight face, too. Oh man, you're so good! I get it, though. We shouldn't be publicly sharing your editing secrets. [Winks at Lynda.] But since the sheep is out of the bag and we've already officially acknowledge the outfits—
ER: We haven’t acknowledged any—
SK: Can you tell me what this one is about?
ER: Oh. That was when I was working on Kinetic. What's so odd about that? And where did you find it? I was at Wal Mart, shopping for more Red Pens of Doom.
SK: [Frowns.] I don't get it. It's 'cause you're both superheroes? 'Cause I mean, Annie doesn't wear a crown or a one piece swimsuit. And what about this one?
ER: Uh . . . that was when I was working on The Devil’s Hour. I’m not sure what you’re getting at—
SK: And THIS?
ER: [Looks sheepish.] That’s my Kestrel Saga outfit. It has . . . um . . . a voice-changer . . . and I can make the bad guys sound scarier if I read the text aloud. [Blushes.] Gosh, I guess I never thought about it. I really do dress for success when I edit. The Style Sheep knows where it’s at.
SK: Dressing for success is half the battle. I mean look at me; that’s why I’m naked.
ER: You’re not . . . undressed. And why—
SK: Well, under my clothes I am. I’m just trying to channel my ol’ pal Ernest Hemingway. He wrote naked and made it big! Fake it ‘till I make it and all that. [Shrugs.]
Are you sure you want me to take the disco ball with me? Don’t you need lighting when you’re editing?
ER: . . .
You can find S.K. Anthony in a number of places. She's on Twitter @SKathAnthony, her website is www.skanthony.com, her Facebook page is S Katherine Anthony, and on occasional occasions, she'll be right here with me, drinking coffee and laughing it up over our latest plans and schemes. And possibly even talking about books and writing.
You can find me here. I'm always here.