Game of Thrones editing styles

I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan, so with season six about to start, I couldn’t resist a Thrones-themed post. It’s not just an immersive epic complete with an expansive universe and amazingly detailed back story, peopled by charismatic yet deeply flawed and often scantily clad characters, with lashings of dragons and White Walkers – it even has serious points to make about grammar. (Let’s just say that Stannis Baratheon wouldn’t be seen dead at the express checkouts in Tesco, even to avoid a massive queue.) 

But what – grammar pedantry aside – does GoT have to do with editing? Well, there is often more than one way to tackle an editing project … so which character do you feel like being today?

Jaqen H’ghar – It’s not just that he’s a brilliant assassin, and compellingly mysterious. He also has the most interesting approach to personal pronouns of any character on the show. If you really don’t like the first person, for example, I highly recommend channelling a bit of Jaqen H’ghar. And if the author doesn’t happen to agree with your edits, simply tear off your face in a theatrical fashion, mutter that you are ‘no one’, and give them the slip.

Key quote: A girl gives a man his own name?

Ygritte – I like to think of Ygritte as the character who reminds me to keep up with my CPD. OK, so I am not Jon Snow, and I do actually know quite a bit about editing, but accepting that there’s always a lot more to learn is probably a healthy attitude to have. Also, Ygritte is excellent at dressing for the cold, thereby setting an example for all editors who spend far too much time sitting still and wish to avoid a massive electricity bill.

Key quote: You know nothing, Jon Snow.

Cersei Lannister – The thing I like about Cersei is that she’s nothing if not ruthlessly decisive. She doesn’t always make the best decisions, true, but at least she just gets on with it and makes them. Also, she also understands the importance of picking one’s battles; a crucial skill for an editor as well as a queen trying to cling to power against the odds.

Key quote: A good king knows when to save his strength and when to destroy his enemies.

Lord Varys – Varys is a good example of someone who achieves a lot, ostensibly for the greater good, without letting his ego get in the way. He doesn’t seem to want power for himself, which is quite a rare attribute on Game of Thrones. He’s also an excellent listener, with a network of ‘little birds’ who keep him updated. If Varys were an editor he’d be most respectful of his author’s tone of voice, and he’d be keeping an eye on all the latest developments within his industry. He’d also pay his dues.

Key quote: Any fool with a bit of luck can find himself born into power. But earning it for yourself, that takes work.

Ser Jorah Mormont – If there’s one thing you need as an editor, it’s that Spidey sense for when something needs checking. An even more useful attribute would be actually knowing the answer to almost anything, instantly, without even having to google it. No matter what unfamiliar land he finds himself in, Ser Jorah always seems to just know things; it’s like he’s got a concealed iPhone about his person. (Not that there’s much in the way of 3G in the Red Waste. He must just be that good.)

Key quote: They are dragons, Khaleesi. They cannot be tamed, not even by their mother.

Daenerys Targaryen – What can I say? If all else fails, you’re having a really bad day, and you’re backed into an editorial corner … just bring out the dragons.

Photo on 02-09-2015 at 13.12Liz Jones has worked as an editor in the publishing industry since 1998, and has been freelance since 2008. She usually tries not to mix editing with fantasy.




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