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Plk_Lesiak

Blogs, articles, videos about editing (VN and otherwise)?

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As I proud myself with my poor life choices, I'm flirting with the idea of getting into this wonderful, overcrowded and grossly underpaid niche known as editing and I was wondering whether the wise people around here, such as @Decay or @Fred the Barber could recommend any sources to learn about common tools and skills associated with said craft (preferably free, but reasonably cheap ones, like audiobooks or online courses, are also within my interests). 

If I ever go for it, I'd probably start with offering my services for free to some small-time EVN devs, to gain some experience (you don't need any unpaid workers in your projects @Zander? :kosame:), but it's still not something I'd like to go into blind. I obviously have experience with editing journalistic and academic work, but hardly in truly professional capacity.

Any and all suggestions will be appreciated. :)

PS And, of course, if anyone is willing to share their experiences on what editing work for VNs looks like in practice, it'll also be highly appreciated. :sachi:

Edited by Plk_Lesiak

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Not to sound too discouraging, but I don't think non-native English speakers should be editors. Non-native English speakers who become known as writers of English are such a rarity that everyone will give you the exact same two examples when the topic comes up (Nabokov and Conrad). It's very, very hard to make up for all those formative years missing out on constant immersion in a language. Now, all that warning delivered, regarding how to learn...

- Every line editor I know has said that what they do, they do based pretty much purely on instinct. However, instincts can obviously be honed. Most of what I've learned about line editing in the last couple years, I've learned from people critiquing my work (mostly QAs on projects; I've been fortunate to be blessed with a lot of good QAs over the years). Giving and receiving feedback is always a sensitive thing, though, so people offering critique have to be careful about how they approach it, and people receiving it have to do their damnedest to try to take it constructively. Sometimes there are failures on one or both sides of that equation, but don't let that turn you off the process; it's the most important thing to constantly improving.

- Beyond that, still on line editing, I think I've just read a few random internet articles over the past few years which helped give me things to think about and to process (e.g., "conciseness", "precision", etc.). I have a blog on this site (here) where I've tried to write up some things in that vein myself, but take my opinions with a grain of salt (in the first place, they're old and from when I was still fairly inexperienced; and in the second place, I'm still not all that experienced or that high up on the totem pole anyway).

- Copy editing, on the other hand, is a much more technical process with a lot more black-and-white issues, more rules to remember, and so forth. Lately I've been reading Dreyer's English, which is an approachable and entertaining general survey sort of book on the topic which I would recommend. Depending on how serious you are, you could also look into getting a big fat style book.

- And above all else, read constantly: read authors writing in their native tongue (not translations), and especially read good writers. Read across various genres. Read poetry. Let me say that again and italicize it, because it's important: read poetry. If you find some you like, memorize it; memorizing a few pages of poetry is not nearly so hard as it sounds, and it's extremely good for your writing brain.

To the last question: in my experience, editing work for VNs involves clicking through rows in a spreadsheet or a tool, fussing with wording constantly, occasionally rewriting things wholesale, and rarely checking the original line to see why the thing written in the translation box doesn't make sense to me (not an option if you are working on an OELVN, I suppose, but I assure you, it will still happen...). It's like very, very slowly playing a VN where the writing has a tendency to make you groan.

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No one ever made any in-depth guides on editing visual novels. It's so niche that even those who have some decent skills editing them didn't have time/will to write up any in-depth guides. However, that's not to say there aren't any. You can find some old editing... I'd like to call them "tips"... on this very forum. You can find these in Darbury's blog and Fred's blog. Not sure who else had them, but there's probably a couple of more that I may have forgotten.

Other than that, you may want to look into what I like to call "generic editing guides", not specifically aimed at editing Japanese media. There's a couple of books on this matter that you can find easily on Google. Look for tips on good writing and such. That said, the most important editing guide that nobody can really offer you is... to be a creative writer. Actually, most editors aren't creative. You may get away with being a "shit editor" in this scene, but if you really want to become a good one, you need to practice a lot of writing and having a general idea at what good prose sounds like. And to achieve this... you need to read a lot. Preferably works with stellar writing (up to the point of real literature). But if you want to be just another editor, then that's easy. Anyone can join this scene as an editor, based on what I observed. Even as a pro. Yes, the barrier is that low. I guess you just need to know English well enough, and they'll hire you.

Another thing you may want to look up for is feedback. Edit something and then ask people around (both pro and amateur) what do they think of it. If they are any helpful, they'll let you know where you screwed up or where they think you can improve, etc. etc. Just collect all these tips for a while, and you'll get the "editing guide for VNs" that you are looking for.

For example, sometimes you'll get feedback from TLers themselves on what they think is a good editor. Like, this one for example, written by Quof. The only real way to learn editing is to practice it and ask for feedback. I don't really know any other way. Not like anyone has ever written a very detailed guide on editing for VNs. So you just gotta make do with what's available.

 

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1 hour ago, Fred the Barber said:

Not to sound too discouraging, but I don't think non-native English speakers should be editors.

Well, I was expecting to hear that from you, so it's something I'm definitely taking into consideration. :> I'm aware that it'd be a longshot, or a questionable choice even. On the other hand, I've seen native speakers with literature degrees doing really shotty jobs at editing EVNs, judging by the final products. JVNs... Well, the worst cases often don't have an editor at all, but we all know how it looks in practice. Even despite my relentless impostor syndrome, I have a feeling this would not be completely hopeless. :D

Anyway, thank you for such an in-depth response. :)

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Disregard "non-native English speakers shouldn't be editors" comment. While it's true that it's preferable for an editor to be native in the language they're editing text for, it's definitely not an absolute necessity. You can be good at editing even if you are not a native... as long as your English doesn't completely suck.

Edited by Infernoplex

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i'm not a native english speaker, but i believe that editors should be natives, or highly good.

they should also be... open-minded. translating to english is special, it's globalization rather than localization. we don't want to cute girls sound like jijis lamenting old age.

editing academic papers on the other hand is different. it's highly formal, and standard, needs someone with knowledge of field. it can be done by non natives.

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10 hours ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

Well, I was expecting to hear that from you, so it's something I'm definitely taking into consideration. :> I'm aware that it'd be a longshot, or a questionable choice even. On the other hand, I've seen native speakers with literature degrees doing really shotty jobs at editing EVNs, judging by the final products. JVNs... Well, the worst cases often don't have an editor at all, but we all know how it looks in practice. Even despite my relentless impostor syndrome, I have a feeling this would not be completely hopeless. :D

I have nothing to offer that can help, but I do have a couple of opinions on this topic.

Whilst I ordinarily would add to the pile of 'don't become an editor if you aren't a native',  for this particular field that are Visual Novels, I have to say: Go for it.
There are so many good stories in Western VNs and even some fan translations that are simply unbearable due to how they use and misuse English. If your efforts end up alleviating these cases even a little, I'd say they were worthwhile. Maybe to some 'making crap a bit less crappy' doesn't sound like a goal, but I assure you, as part of the casual plebs that consume anything and everything without caring about the original material or anything like that, just that little bit of improvement makes a huge difference.

All that said, dON't Do tHis tO yOUrSeLF.

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3 hours ago, Mr Poltroon said:

Go for it.

(...) 

dON't Do tHis tO yOUrSeLF.

Why are you repeating what my mind is saying? :notlikemiya:

I'm also under impression things aren't looking much better in some associated niches, like light novels... If I felt that the competition from native speakers doing a decent job at editing was that heavy, I wouldn't even consider it, but we all can see how things are...

I don't know, it's still a loose idea for me. But I won't know if I truly suck at it until I make a serious attempt and gather some feedback. :] 

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Editing is a thankless job. Most VN writers think they don't need an editor or copy editor/proofreader. Even if they do realize they need an additional pair of eyes, occasionally I see "editors" with such a poor grasp of English that their input makes the text worse. Oh, and sometimes people decide to just throw out your changes for no reason but keep your name on the final product. That's fun.

Usually people send me either a Google doc with their script in it or they send me their .rpa file directly (so it's a good idea to have basic knowledge/understanding of Ren'Py syntax so you don't accidentally break your client's game). Other game writers use Excel or another spreadsheet tool to write scripts. Once, someone I worked with simply sent me the WIP build of their game and had me note which lines needed to be changed...never again.

For general editing, I'd recommend checking out stuff linked by the EFA (Editorial Freelancers Association) and SfEP (Society for Editors and Proofreaders) Twitter accounts.

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2 hours ago, lunaterra said:

Editing is a thankless job. Most VN writers think they don't need an editor or copy editor/proofreader.

Man, this is so weird to me. I guess part of it might be you're doing it for cash and they're stingy, but still...

---

If you're going to edit fan translations rather than trying to go professional (which I can't recommend, though nothing is impossible in this industry I guess lol), the skill in interpreting 'fantranslationese' and translating it to English gets much more relevant. Also, learning Japanese helps - and then you can always realize you should actually be a translator instead, fun stuff!

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On 7/12/2019 at 5:28 PM, Plk_Lesiak said:

On the other hand, I've seen native speakers with literature degrees doing really shotty jobs at editing EVNs, judging by the final products.:)

Effort is important.  Correcting typos is quick and easy.  Rewriting lines is time-consuming and hard (and often thankless).  If you hire an editor and (under)pay them by the word--regardless of the quality of their work--expect them to do as little work as possible.

Edited by sanahtlig

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I feel a bit shafted that you didn’t mention me. 😂 

@Plk_Lesiak, but seriously though, what’s your native tongue? Because you should be a translator. Hell, I could set you up at the one of few studios I work at. Or I can hire you myself to “edit” my VN into your native tongue.

Of course, you have to familiar with Renpy and if you’re offering your services for free, I think translating a small kinetic VN is a great start. 

 

But if you’re heart is dead set on editing vs translating, then well, it’s get complicated. You see, I had an editor because it can get really murky when you’re charge of vision for MY VN. I don’t wanna sound mean, but whenever I hire an editor, it’s largely for proofreading. No story edits. No style edits.

But..... we’re reaching a point in the medium where prose should matter more. Meaning that an author, who puts a comma, in a particular place, is doing so, with intent.

Non natives may not get that because the English you learn is “standard” meaning that grammatical mistakes are always a problem but you’re a smart person you would now if a character is doing a particular dialect or this broken run-on sentence without a any punctuation is a James Joyce reference

 

For some larger EVN studios, writers just come up with stuff and the editor is in charge of voice. I am not the biggest fan of that. But in a studio of 20+ people, you kinda need to have a voice that unifies everything. I am surprised that no one else has mentioned this. I just don’t like sending over  my voice and then comes back all different. 

 

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6 hours ago, Happiness+ said:

Plk_Lesiak, but seriously though, what’s your native tongue? Because you should be a translator. Hell, I could set you up at the one of few studios I work at. Or I can hire you myself to “edit” my VN into your native tongue.

No one reads VNs in Polish though. I could do it if someone paid me for it, but it would be a pure exercise in futility TBH. :P

And I absolutely get what you're saying, but it's mostly the case of making clients expectations and needs clear, right? If they just want a proofreader, that's easy. If they want better prose, it should take only a bit of talking to get a feel on how much I can change. Not that all people are reasonable when it goes to their own writing or actually know what they want, but I'd imagine proper communication can let you get over those hurdles most of the time. :3

Edited by Plk_Lesiak

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7 hours ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

No one reads VNs in Polish though. I could do it if someone paid me for it, but it would be a pure exercise in futility TBH.

How’s the otaku community over there in Poland then?

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36 minutes ago, Happiness+ said:

How’s the otaku community over there in Poland then?

It's a thing, not as big and active as in most Western countries, but decently sized. Still, I don't think many people bother with Polish translations. There's some translated manga and LNs available, obviously some fansubs as those are easy to make, but generally, English-translated stuff is the norm as far as I can tell. And really, with the generation that is into anime, the language barier is rather irrelevant anyways. Thus, translating stuff to Polish feels pointless, especially VNs as no one's interested in them.

Edited by Plk_Lesiak

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41 minutes ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

English-translated stuff is the norm as far as I can tell. And really, with the generation that is into anime, the language barier is rather irrelevant anyways.

Yeah, looks like this. Aftear all, didn't many of us learn their English mostly by playing games? ;)

However, as a side note, I'd like to point out that IMO PL fansubs for Toradora were much better than english ones :)

42 minutes ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

Thus, translating stuff to Polish feels pointless, especially VNs as no one's interested in them.

BTW, sometimes I wonder, how many people in Poland read VNs. There definitely aren't many of them.

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VNs had, still have, and will have a niche community for all time to come. They are never gonna be as popular as other games or other mediums of entertainment. No matter where or when. I don't think they are even popular that much in Japan nowadays, much less to speak of other countries.

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59 minutes ago, adamstan said:

BTW, sometimes I wonder, how many people in Poland read VNs. There definitely aren't many of them.

Funny fact: a guy that lent me his laptop during the MLP con a few days ago, where I was talking about fan VNs, had like a full Type-Moon library there. But other then that, the only Poles I've seen being into VNs are on this Forum (whole two of them, other than me). When I spoke about VNs at university, to other people interested in fan studies, they only had a vague idea of what VNs are. I'd want to hold a panel on VNs on Pyrkon one day, that would be a good way to find out whether there are any hardcore VN fans among Polish otaku. :>

40 minutes ago, Infernoplex said:

VNs had, still have, and will have a niche community for all time to come. They are never gonna be as popular as other games or other mediums of entertainment. No matter where or when. I don't think they are even popular that much in Japan nowadays, much less to speak of other countries.

Yup, this is the reason I don't see much potential for translating VNs into languages other than English and Spanish, Western market-wise. Obviously, it's always cool to make your project more accessible, especially if it's small hobbyist VNs, but I can't say I'd find doing such translating work appealing if there's barely any target audience for it.

Edited by Plk_Lesiak

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6 hours ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

Still, I don't think many people bother with Polish translations. There's some translated manga and LNs available, obviously some fansubs as those are easy to make, but generally, English-translated stuff is the norm as far as I can tell. And really, with the generation that is into anime, the language barier is rather irrelevant anyways. Thus, translating stuff to Polish feels pointless, especially VNs as no one's interested in them.

I feel like my studio director would disagree completely, because mainly I got into VNs because of fan translations. Editing to us, EVN devs is not that important as translating because you literally open up a new market when you do. 

 

When people don’t read the EVN, that’s more a marketing issue, than anything else. If the otaku community is big enough, then translation is worthwhile, because do you not know how amazing it would be to get someone into this medium because they read Fate/Stay Night  or Ever17 in polish and fell in love instantly. 

5 hours ago, Infernoplex said:

VNs had, still have, and will have a niche community for all time to come. They are never gonna be as popular as other games or other mediums of entertainment. No matter where or when. I don't think they are even popular that much in Japan nowadays, much less to speak of other countries.

Rant time. It’s been a while since I did a good rant. *cracks kunckles*  *cracks neck*

Every EVN dev worth their grain of salt would disagree with that. You know JVNs make bank right in Japan and Oceania as well. EVNs aren’t even remotely popular at all even among other otaku. But it’s pretty common nowadays to have a JVN associated with an anime kinda like light novels and fuck, I don’t even know anyone who reads light novels. I think JVNs are more popular than light novels, but how many light novel adaptations we’ve had since SAO. 

 

The weird thing about all of this, is back in the day, people said same thing about anime. Back when Funsubbing was really rare, I mean you had to wait years before titles would come to America via VHS. Nowadays, there’s anime adaption of a profitable live action movie by James Cameron. How the hell did the niche market of animation known as anime reach such levels of popularity? My mom literally told me she liked Alita when I was watching the movie on the plane yesterday. My 70 year old my actually likes this anime adaptation. That could not have happened if anime remained stuck without people actively translating it and helping the medium grow over the years. Heaven’s feel is a movie. A MOVIE ADAPTATION OF VN. 

 

How in the world can something like this stay niche forever when the anime industry is creatively bankrupt enough to try giving adaptions to long winded visual novels?  

 

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54 minutes ago, Happiness+ said:

You know JVNs make bank right in Japan and Oceania as well.

Which JVNs? Only titles from popular companies do well. Most just fall into obscurity, hence so many bankrupt eroge developers in the past few years (and some just shutting down VN development altogether despite not being out of business). This wouldn't have been happening if VNs were very profitable, now would it? Most titles don't make a bank. Some do, but not all.

57 minutes ago, Happiness+ said:

But it’s pretty common nowadays to have a JVN associated with an anime kinda like light novels and fuck, I don’t even know anyone who reads light novels. I think JVNs are more popular than light novels, but how many light novel adaptations we’ve had since SAO. 

Light novels are actually pretty popular here. In fact, they are more popular than VNs based on my observations. I know quite a few LN readers (and for some reason, these people were never into VNs at all).

1 hour ago, Happiness+ said:

The weird thing about all of this, is back in the day, people said same thing about anime.

Hmm... true, maybe. I wasn't born back in that time to really know what people were saying back then, but I believe you. Yeah, maybe VNs reach the mainstream one day, just like anime did. That said, the way it's going now, I find it unlikely for VNs to reach anime kind of popularity. At least not in the next 5 to 10 years, it won't happen. Maybe in some distant future, some kind of boom happens, but there's a bunch of reasons why I don't see that happening yet. Anime and VNs as mediums of entertainment are fundamentally different in many ways. Maybe history will prove me wrong later, but for now, I believe that VNs will never reach that kind of popularity as anime has it.

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10 hours ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

I'd want to hold a panel on VNs on Pyrkon one day, that would be a good way to find out whether there are any hardcore VN fans among Polish otaku. :>

If you decide to go with it, please announce it here as well. Maybe I'll finally visit Pyrkon ;)

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9 hours ago, Happiness+ said:

I feel like my studio director would disagree completely, because mainly I got into VNs because of fan translations. Editing to us, EVN devs is not that important as translating because you literally open up a new market when you do. 

Well, I'm sure there are cases like that but in some languages, having a translation does little to actually boost accessibility. Also the idea that having high-quality prose is not as important as making translations is kind of gross. We're talking about interactive fiction here, I know people often don't care about polished writing that much, but still...

Quote

When people don’t read the EVN, that’s more a marketing issue, than anything else. If the otaku community is big enough, then translation is worthwhile, because do you not know how amazing it would be to get someone into this medium because they read Fate/Stay Night  or Ever17 in polish and fell in love instantly.

Suuure, but how many hundreds of hours you want to invest in this vague possibility? Translating is a difficult and work-intensive job and if it's meant to meet proper quality standards, it needs an editor anyways. Raw or self-edited translation will always have serious problems.

Edited by Plk_Lesiak

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2 hours ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

Raw or self-edited translation will always have serious problems.

Not if you're good enough. It may not be optimal, and I still get editors for my projects, but if you can write your translation naturally you don't actually need an editor to avoid serious problems.

Of course, few fan translators are at this level, and probably quite a few professionals either are not either or are not paid enough for trying to be worth it.

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