Editing Tips from Douglas Gibson (#14)

In this recurring feature, we’re sharing tips for editors from the desk of Douglas Gibson. Good for those starting out or old hands who need a reminder, these reminders form an engaging guide for sharp-eyed wordsmiths.

Tip #14
In her fine new book, The Literary Legacy of the Macmillan Company of Canada: Making Books and Mapping Culture, Ruth Panofsky quotes the “urbane, cosmopolitan and well travelled” editor Kildare Dobbs. He wrote that the fiction writer must have “intuition and moral taste,” avoid cliché, melodrama, and especially “the curliness of a Victorian bandstand.” A strong novel was carefully structured, appropriately paced, and “told with skill and perception” if not “flourish and wit.” When these qualities are lacking in fiction, Dobbs asserted he “would rather embalm a corpse” than undertake revision.

Missed the previous tips? Check out Tip #1, Tip #2, Tip #3Tip #4, Tip #5, Tip #6, Tip #7, Tip #8Tip #9Tip #10, Tip #11, Tip #12, and Tip #13.