The Editor in 419

Will Ferguson’s Giller-Prize winning novel, 419, features Laura, an editor, as the main character.

It was fun to peek inside the life of a freelance copy editor, even at a horrible moment in her life. She is a hero, of course, as all editors are at some level. Most only get to save manuscripts, but Laura — without giving too much away — uses her editing skills to solve a crime.

I loved Ferguson’s book, and here’s what I noted and enjoyed the most about Laura the editor:

1. Her work is a mystery to her family. Her brother Warren doesn’t really get what she does, holed up alone in her apartment working on other people’s creations. And, actually, Laura does need to get out a bit more.

2. She is meticulous and steadfast. Laura creates a style sheet for each new client and project she tackles. Why didn’t I think of that?

3. Laura knows she is working for the writer, the reader and the publisher. Even when they want silly things in their manuscript, she does what they want, but she is good enough to do it consistently through the document.

4. Her years of work have given her the editor’s eagle eye. Inconsistencies and repeated mistakes jump out at her, and become a clever plot device in the book.

5. And finally, I realize, it would be really, really great to live above a food court.

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