Developmental Editing: Characterization

The Eckleburg Workshops

Developmental editing is the first phase in the editorial process when the writer and/or editor focuses on structural elements within the narrative including but not limited to characterization. See below for tips on editing characterization.

Editing Characterization: Amalgamation

Each character must earn his/her/their space on the page. If a character isn’t working on multiple levels then cut the character or amalgamate the character with another.

Character amalgamation is a fantastic way to build complex, three-dimensional characters. In our first drafts, we often write too many characters as we are discovering what the narrative wants to be, and this is okay. This is a helpful process as we create. However, upon developmental revision, one of our first focuses should be delineating which characters are essential and three-dimensional and which characters are flat and unnecessary. Amalgamation is a helpful tool in editing characterization. 

Editing Characterization: Divine Details

All characters, when first introduced, should come with one or more “divine details,” something iconic, striking and memorable — e.g., gesture, quirk, scar, etc. If you are having difficulty figuring out how to introduce a character with divine details, the narrative might be better served by cutting or amalgamating the character with another. Fleshing out divine details is an important focus in editing characterization.

One on One Developmental Editing

This is our One on One Workshop option through Reedsy, where you can receive editorial feedback for your manuscript of any genre and length. Submitting your work to Reedsy for editorial feedback is not submitting to our journal or any other journal for publication consideration.

  • developmental edits
  • copy edits
  • line edits
  • proofreading
  • end notes.

Reedsy.com

The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review

If you are looking to submit to our journal, The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, please click here. When you submit to Eckleburg, we promise to give your work our undivided attention and reading. We regret that we do not have time and resources to give individual editorial feedback on your publication submissions to the journal.

The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review was founded in 2010 as an online and print literary and arts journal. We take our title from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and include the full archives of our predecessor Moon Milk Review. Our aesthetic is eclectic, literary mainstream to experimental. We appreciate fusion forms including magical realist, surrealist, meta- realist and realist works with an offbeat spin. We value character-focused storytelling and language and welcome both edge and mainstream with punch aesthetics. We like humor that explores the gritty realities of world and human experiences. Our issues include original content from both emerging and established writers, poets, artists and comedians such as authors, Rick Moody, Cris Mazza, Steve Almond, Stephen Dixon, poets, Moira Egan and David Wagoner and actor/comedian, Zach Galifianakis.

Currently, Eckleburg runs online, daily content of original fiction, poetry, nonfiction, translations, and more with featured artwork–visual and intermedia–from our Gallery. We run annual print issues, the Eckleburg Reading Series (DC, Baltimore and New York), as well as, the annual Gertrude Stein Award in Fiction, first prize $1000 and print publication, guest-judged by award-winning authors such as Rick Moody and Cris Mazza.

We have collaborated with a number of talented and high profile literary, art and intermedia organizations in DC, Baltimore and New York including The Poetry Society of New York, KGB Bar, Brazenhead Books, New World Writing (formerly Mississippi Review Online), The Hopkins Review, Boulevard, Gargoyle Magazine, Entasis Press, Barrelhouse, Hobart, 826DC, DC Litand Iowa’s Mission Creek Festival at AWP 2013, Boston, for a night of raw comedic lit and music. We like to promote smaller indie presses, galleries, musicians and filmmakers alongside globally recognized organizations, as well as, our local, national and international contributors.

Rarely will readers/viewers find a themed issue at Eckleburg, but rather a mix of eclectic works. It is Eckleburg’s intention to represent writers, artists, musicians, and comedians as a contemporary and noninvasive collective, each work evidence of its own artistry, not as a reflection of an editor’s vision of what an issue “should” be. Outside of kismet and special issues, Eckleburg will read and accept unsolicited submissions based upon individual merit, not theme cohesiveness. It is our intention to create an experience in which readers and viewers can think artistically, intellectually, socially, and independently. We welcome brave, honest voices. To submit, please read our guidelines.

Over the ashheaps the giant eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg kept their vigil, but I perceived, after a moment, that other eyes were regarding us with peculiar intensity from less than twenty feet away. – The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

Writing the Signifier & Signified

The Eckleburg Workshops

In Sausserian Linguistics, the two elements of a piece of language—the signifier being the relatively concrete and the signified the relatively abstract. In some situations, there are chains of signifiers: The written “road” signifies the spoken “road,” which in turn signifies the idea of “road,” which, in turn, in an analogy or allegory, can signify life. (A Handbook to Literature)

One on One Developmental Editing

This is our One on One Workshop option through Reedsy, where you can receive editorial feedback for your manuscript of any genre and length. Submitting your work to Reedsy for editorial feedback is not submitting to our journal or any other journal for publication consideration.

  • developmental edits
  • copy edits
  • line edits
  • proofreading
  • end notes.

Reedsy.com

The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review

If you are looking to submit to our journal, The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, please click here. When you submit to Eckleburg, we promise to give your work our undivided attention and reading. We regret that we do not have time and resources to give individual editorial feedback on your publication submissions to the journal.

The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review was founded in 2010 as an online and print literary and arts journal. We take our title from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and include the full archives of our predecessor Moon Milk Review. Our aesthetic is eclectic, literary mainstream to experimental. We appreciate fusion forms including magical realist, surrealist, meta- realist and realist works with an offbeat spin. We value character-focused storytelling and language and welcome both edge and mainstream with punch aesthetics. We like humor that explores the gritty realities of world and human experiences. Our issues include original content from both emerging and established writers, poets, artists and comedians such as authors, Rick Moody, Cris Mazza, Steve Almond, Stephen Dixon, poets, Moira Egan and David Wagoner and actor/comedian, Zach Galifianakis.

Currently, Eckleburg runs online, daily content of original fiction, poetry, nonfiction, translations, and more with featured artwork–visual and intermedia–from our Gallery. We run annual print issues, the Eckleburg Reading Series (DC, Baltimore and New York), as well as, the annual Gertrude Stein Award in Fiction, first prize $1000 and print publication, guest-judged by award-winning authors such as Rick Moody and Cris Mazza.

We have collaborated with a number of talented and high profile literary, art and intermedia organizations in DC, Baltimore and New York including The Poetry Society of New York, KGB Bar, Brazenhead Books, New World Writing (formerly Mississippi Review Online), The Hopkins Review, Boulevard, Gargoyle Magazine, Entasis Press, Barrelhouse, Hobart, 826DC, DC Litand Iowa’s Mission Creek Festival at AWP 2013, Boston, for a night of raw comedic lit and music. We like to promote smaller indie presses, galleries, musicians and filmmakers alongside globally recognized organizations, as well as, our local, national and international contributors.

Rarely will readers/viewers find a themed issue at Eckleburg, but rather a mix of eclectic works. It is Eckleburg’s intention to represent writers, artists, musicians, and comedians as a contemporary and noninvasive collective, each work evidence of its own artistry, not as a reflection of an editor’s vision of what an issue “should” be. Outside of kismet and special issues, Eckleburg will read and accept unsolicited submissions based upon individual merit, not theme cohesiveness. It is our intention to create an experience in which readers and viewers can think artistically, intellectually, socially, and independently. We welcome brave, honest voices. To submit, please read our guidelines.

Over the ashheaps the giant eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg kept their vigil, but I perceived, after a moment, that other eyes were regarding us with peculiar intensity from less than twenty feet away. – The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

Sources

The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the PresentEric Kandel.

The Banalization of Nihilism: Twentieth-Century Responses to MeaninglessnessKaren L. Carr.

A Handbook to Literature. William Harmon.

“Cogito et Histoire de la Folie.” Jacques Derrida.

Cognitive Neuropsychology Section, Laboratory of Brain and Cognition.

Eats Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. Lynne Truss.

The Elements of Style. William Strunk. 

Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory. Peter Barry.

Critical Theory: A Very Short Introduction. Stephen Eric Bronner.

Critical Theory Today: A User-Friendly Guide. Lois Tyson

The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends. David H. Richter.

A Handbook to Literature. William Harmon.

Literary Theories and Schools of Criticism. Purdue Online Writing Lab. 

New Oxford American DictionaryEdited by Angus Stevenson and Christine A. Lindberg.

The Norton Anthology of World LiteratureMartin Puchner, et al.

The Norton Introduction to PhilosophyGideon Rosen and Alex Byrne.

Woe is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English. Patricia T. O’Conner

Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft. Janet Burroway, Elizabeth Stuckey-French & Ned Stuckey-French.

Writing the Other. Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward.

Writing Protagonists

The Eckleburg Workshops

The classic definition of a protagonist is the character who is the focus of the overall narrative and undergoes the most significant change. A literary protagonist is rarely ever considered to be morally “good.” Literary protagonists are complicated and will often challenge the reader’s concept of “good” and “bad.” Keep in mind that the best literary protagonists are usually also their own antagonists to some degree—i.e. person versus self. You might have more than one protagonist, such as in Tom Perrotta’s novel, Little Children.

Burroway’s Writing Fiction addresses the universal paradox and the necessity of individuality, especially in main characters such as protagonists and antagonists:

Though critics often praise literature for exhibiting characteristics of the individual, the typical, and the universal all at the same time, I don’t think this is of much use to the practicing writer. For though you may labor to create an individual character, and you may make that character a credible example of type, I don’t think you can set out to be “universal….” Writing in generalities and typicalities is akin to bigotry—we see only what’s alike about people, not what’s unique. When effective, a description of type blames the character for the failure to individualize, and if an author invariably wants to condemn or ridicule those types….. (Writing Fiction)

Protagonist Writing Exercise No. 1: Schematics

Download and complete The Character Arc: Protagonist

Click on the above link and open the document. Save the document to your hard drive. Follow the directions and the writing assignment as given, step by step, in this document. Take one section at a time. Try not to skip forward to a later section. Let your discovery process build. We are focusing only on the protagonist for this week. We will focus on the main antagonist next week, along with additional antagonist versus protagonist considerations. Please submit both your completed Character Arc and following Narrative Exploration by the Sunday due date.

Protagonist Writing Exercise No. 2: Narrative Exploration

Now that you have explored your character schematically and individually, aside from whatever intention the longer work may have had for the character, you are ready to flesh your character out in his or her own narrative. Write a 1000 word scene or flash fiction about your character. You might center this short short narrative on one of the schematic arc details—i.e. worst or best night. This story must not already be part of the written words in your longer work. This must be new, whether or not you’ve already been thinking on this event in your character’s history.

One on One Developmental Editing

This is our One on One Workshop option through Reedsy, where you can receive editorial feedback for your manuscript of any genre and length. Submitting your work to Reedsy for editorial feedback is not submitting to our journal or any other journal for publication consideration.

  • developmental edits
  • copy edits
  • line edits
  • proofreading
  • end notes.

Reedsy.com

Sources

A Handbook to Literature. William Harmon.

“Cogito et Histoire de la Folie.” Jacques Derrida.

Eats Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. Lynne Truss.

The Elements of Style. William Strunk. 

New Oxford American DictionaryEdited by Angus Stevenson and Christine A. Lindberg.

The Norton Anthology of World LiteratureMartin Puchner, et al.

The Norton Introduction to PhilosophyGideon Rosen and Alex Byrne.

Woe is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English. Patricia T. O’Conner

Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft. Janet Burroway, Elizabeth Stuckey-French & Ned Stuckey-French.

Writing the Other. Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward.