cover image The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself

The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself

Susan Bell, . . Norton, $23.95 (230pp) ISBN 978-0-393-05752-2

Every writer is an editor if only for choosing one word over another. However, the ability to edit your own work consciously as you go along or after the work is done is another thing altogether and one that leaves many a writer nonplussed. Enter Bell, a long-time professional editor of both fiction and nonfiction (Dare to Hope: Saving American Democracy ) as well as a teacher of editing at the New School in New York. Bell flat out states that self-editing is not only possible, it’s necessary, and it can be learned. She provides a slew of ingenious methods for viewing your work with fresh eyes (hang the pages on a clothesline, use a different font when printing out). She also supplies exercises on macro-editing (dealing with structure, character, etc.). Neither how-to nor memoir, the book includes a little bit of everything: Bell’s own experiences editing writers; a long section on how F. Scott Fitzgerald—the consummate self-editor—produced The Great Gatsby ; lengthy quotes by well-known authors on their self-editing process; and a list of editing symbols. Bell’s prose is elegant and wonderfully readable in this artful guide. (Aug.)