I am the self-appointed editor of our group round robins. Anyone who’s read our work knows I am LEAST qualified of the four of us. ProWritingAid is the great equalizer, or at least I have to tell myself it is.
As the editor I have self-imposed rules.
1. Don’t change the core of other’s sections. Whatever they wrote is what they intended and I have to work with that, not hack and slash around to change inherent meaning. Too much change makes it “my story” instead of “our story” which runs contrary to the round robin’s goals.
2. Seamless flow from one writer to the other is the goal, but I can’t change all the phrasing to be “Jessica” (or anyone else’s) style to achieve this. It’s not right to erase someone else’s voice on a joint work to showcase another’s.
This worked well in our first round robin. I used ProWritingAid first to correct grammar, style, to catch and rework repetitive phrasing, and to delete adverbs. The major change I made was plot continuity driven. One writer misread another’s part of the story. Where Anges finds a dead body that writer interpreted it as Anges being the dead body. I had to change content. I adjusted three lines.
Fast forward to our second round robin project. We used Reedsy to find a prompt. The gist was: “Your grandmother makes pancakes for you every morning. Your grandmother dies, but there are still pancakes the next morning.”
This prompt was a different challenge from the last. The first story blooms from three words/themes. Using a specific scenario, encouraged more partnership instead of competition to “take over” the story. This second round robin was smoother and required a lot less finessing to make it seem like one person had written the work.
If reworking it was simple why isn’t it posted here?
The “problem”: I hate my part of the story. Not all. I’m happy with the first three almost four paragraphs, but it goes downhill fast. My ambitions to churn the most words and be the first to “finish” a round robin in fifteen minutes left me with a rambling sticky mess. I do not want to publish such a poor expression of my writing. Everything I think is weakest in my form is on display.
What might be worse, my closing section only drives towards a handful of endings. I broadcasted the only natural conclusion, and that’s driving me to play with the less obvious choices to thumb my nose at myself (because I hate authority so much I’ll rebel against myself when I become the authority and isn’t that an unattractive personality quirk).
Help! Do I publish and unfinished story as it stands? Do I scrap this work as hopeless? Do I make my changes because if I cut the last two paragraphs I could write three kinds of separate endings on my own? Are more drastic changes to my section a benefit I gain as the person completing the editing work? Do I have to keep everything I wrote in the spirit of the exercise and endure the cringe? Tell me what’s a “professional” writer/editor to do in this situation with my minor conflict of interest.