Editing and Proofreading: Crime Pays
Crime is the biggest selling genre in the UK. So it’s not surprising that many freelancers dream of editing a Sophie Hannah. In the last couple of years crime has overtaken general fiction and left romance trailing in its wake with a tear-stained pillow and a consolatory box of chocs. But editing and proofreading crime novels will demand a high degree of skill, and for a copy-editor a thorough understanding of the genre.
Before you are entrusted with a crime novel by a mainstream publisher you will probably have cut your teeth on a more mundane diet. Editing and proofreading crime is not rookie work, and Chapterhouse tries not to give you the idea that breaking into the big time as an editor is easy. It isn’t. Small jobs from independent publishers and self-published writers are where you will start out.
Why is crime and the world of the psychological thriller such a big draw for readers now? What is it that turns us to it? Is it today’s frantic world that leads us to the grip of crime rather than the caress of romance?
- Escape. We all need to escape from kitchen-sink reality sometimes. What better route than murder, a complex plot with more twists than DNA’s double helix, and a satisfactory denouement? Colin Dexter, through his famous Inspector Morse, knew this. Through the ancient streets of Oxford and the hallowed quads of sepulchral colleges Dexter led us, mystery after mystery. We were safe in his hands, but his characters could never rest easy on their academic couches.
- Complex plots. We all love to solve puzzles. But if we know that the puzzle is unsolvable so much the better. The brilliant author(ial team) Nicci French is a master of twists, turns, blind alleys and false clues. We are baffled, enthralled, and finally released from growing torment. Ever thought you could do this? Try. It’s impossible for all but the best.
- Resolution. Why are we all so stressed? Give me a couple of days and I’ll give you an answer. But one thing is clear. Stress comes from a lack of an ending. A lack of resolution to our worries. We plod from one concern to another, leaving our own small trail of loose ends. Crime fiction is our life writ dramatically. A psychological storm of cataclysms. But the author will in the end give us peace, a form of literary absolution and healing. The answers to the riddles will give us balm for our fevered brains. The old mistress of suspense knew this. Agatha Christie’s life had its share of stress and unresolved conundrums. But in her writing the answers were finally given. For fine construction try One, Two, Buckle My Shoe.
Advice for Editors and Proofreaders
The advice for editors, proofreaders and would-be-best-selling writers is always the same. If you want to edit, proofread or write cookery books immerse yourself in Nigel Slater, Jamie Oliver and the rest. Time warp back to Elizabeth David, the greatest of them all, perhaps.
Crime is no different. Editing and proofreading crime requires reading it and studying it. You must know your subject and love it in order to succeed. So get reading.
For some great reviews to get you inspired, go to our sister site Chapter and Verse.