I have a secret editor.
I never call her an editor. She doesn't know she's my editor. I never mention it. She is, of course, my wife.
She isn't really an editor, not in the sense that she reads my manuscripts and suggests changes. She doesn't know about her role at all.
Her position evolved over the last two years. As she reads books, she talks about what she likes and doesn't like. Noting that, I began asking her more specific details about what and why her preferences bend.
She reads a voluminous amount, across the spectrum of genres and sub-genres. She still recites poetry she learned in high school. A big Shakespeare fan, she took numerous college classes about the Bard and his work and recites whole passages without thought.
We started doing these exercises during television shows and movies. "The Walking Dead" became our latest subject.
My wife's issues come down to being willing to accept what a character does is logical within the story's context and believable as a person's behavior. So she had problems with Dead.
We decided to watch it because we heard it was the hot new show. It garnered raves. Well, okay. Let's see what we're missing.
Spoiler alerts. If you're going to watch "The Walking Dead", don't read any further.
We didn't like the scene when Rick was shot by the bad guy. The police behavior didn't sync with our expectations of how the police act in these situations. There's a shootout. The police don't spread out to face the wrecked vehicle? And then, it's 'over' but no one walks over, wary with gun out, to confirm that there's no one else in the vehicle? We really wanted to hear what true police professionals thought about that scene.
Second, when Rick emerges from his coma, he makes no attempt to find clothes. He takes off running outside, barefoot, in his hospital clothes. Just no prep. Panic or shock? Maybe, but if that's what was being portrayed, we didn't buy it. Then, when he encouters someone else, he makes no effort to ask them, what's happened, nor to explain, I'm a police officer, I was shot, I've been in a coma and I have no idea what's going on. We think that would be reasonable.
But as we watched the show, that's one of the traits. People make declarative statements and storm off, leaving the situation bereft of discussion. Several times we reacted by saying, "Come on, you're just going to let someone say that to you and walk off?" No, we called bull.
There was also the zombie behavior. Why were zombies sitting in a bus, or a car. They seemed to be sleeping or resting. Do zombies need to sleep or rest? We had to admit, we're not zombie experts. We don't know what's normal but the behavior seemed strange, as did the zombie wife's behavior as she approached and re-approached her house as though she knew it. It seemed out of zombie character.
There was more like that but this should establish the basic patterns of objections.
That's how it ends up as part of my editing process as I write. I think, what would my wife object to in this scene? Are things explained enough to satisfy her, and does the logic hold together? She doesn't mind complicated logic although she prefers more straightforward story lines, but there can't be gaps too big for her to jump.
It's tremendously useful to me as I plan and edit: what would my wife think of this?
It's good to have a secret editor.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com