Fifty Shades of Ink. Episode 3: Making Contract


I didn’t open the wax-sealed manila envelope Noel gave me until I returned to my grubby little hotel room in [google NY neighborhoods]. Then I opened said envelope and take out the papers inside, surprised to find my heart was [synonym for “pounding”].

 The contract. This was what he wanted me to sign before he’d agree to edit my manuscript. I couldn’t believe it! Of all the arrogant …

 But I had to read it. I had to know.




Made this __ day of _____

between the AUTHOR, Robin Hackwright, and the EDITOR, Noel Poundscribe, in regards to the AUTHOR’s manuscript, currently titled ___________________.


The AUTHOR and the EDITOR agree that this editorial relationship will terminate only when the EDITOR deems it finished, and that what happens between AUTHOR and EDITOR in the Editing Chamber will remain confidential and that no other parties, whether friends, relatives, acquaintances, or strangers will be informed of what goes on in the Editing Chamber, not shall any information about the activities in said Editing Chamber be shared by any means or form of communication or electronic media, and/or reproduced via email, fax, smartphone, or other technology now in use or that may be invented at a future date ….


I jerked my head up suddenly. What the…? I’d fallen asleep and the unbound pages of the contract were lying on the carpet at my feet. The boring legalese in this document had actually put me to sleep. I rubbed my eyes, picked up the papers and scanned them … where had I left off? I wasn’t sure, so I just started reading again at a random spot.


The AUTHOR and EDITOR agree that the EDITOR is the dominant member of this professional relationship, and that the EDITOR may inflict upon the AUTHOR psychological, emotional, or spiritual trauma in the course of editing the manuscript. The AUTHOR and EDITOR recognize that this trauma may be necessary for the improvement and success of the manuscript…


Spiritual trauma? What in the seven hells of Harlequin was this? I read on, breathless with indignation.


The AUTHOR will accept any and all critical dictates from the EDITOR as given and will not protest the manner in which these dictates are pronounced. The AUTHOR MUST incorporate into the manuscript all requested changes made by the EDITOR. Failure to comply will result in the immediate termination of the AUTHOR/EDITOR relationship, and no subsequent assistance will be given to the AUTHOR by the EDITOR in finding the MANUSCRIPT a publisher.


Critical dictates? He had to be kidding. This had to be a joke. And yet, as if against my very will, I read on.


AUTHOR and EDITOR recognize that during the course of this editing relationship, the EDITOR shall be entitled to inflict any or all the following damage upon the MANUSCRIPT: folding, spindling, mutilating, hurtling, flinging, stomping upon, tearing, biting, hacking, slashing, shredding, burning, riddling with bullets, driving nails through, detonating, dissolving in acid, voiding bowels upon…


I threw down the pages in disgust. Who did this Noel Poundscribe think he was? And yet, I told myself in an interior monologue, Robin, think of all of the writers he’s worked with who then went on to great acclaim and huge book sales. This is what he does. It’s his work. You need him, Hackwright. You know you do. And how bad could it be, after all? I mean, he obviously likes the book or things wouldn’t have progressed to this stage. This contract is just boilerplate, to cover all the bases. It has to be a standard legal thingy that all editors have writers sign.

Reader, I signed it.




I showed up the next morning at Noel’s penthouse office with the signed contract. Noel took the document from me and flung it on his desk without even looking at it. Instead he gazed intently at me with those steely grey [blue? gunmetal? inky? yes, that’s it, inky] eyes. I shivered with whatever emotions one shivers with at a moment like this.

“Follow me,” he said, and I did, into the bare, cold, forbidding Editing Chamber. There was my manuscript, on the beat-up little table under the bare lightbulb. Only now it was positively feathered with sticky notes of every color poking out everywhere. In fact that once-familiar stack of pages now looked twice as thick with what had to be hundreds of little colored tabs sticking out of it.

“Sit,” he said. And I did. Why was I being so goshdarn submissive?

I expected Noel to take the seat across from me at the beat-up little table but he didn’t. Instead, without warning, he swung his hand violently and batted my manuscript off the table. Pages scattered everywhere.

I gasped.

“Pick them up,” he commanded. “Put them back in any order other than the way you had them before, actually, and that abomination you call a novel is sure to be improved.”

I stared at him in shock.

“Abomination…?” I gasped. “But you … read it … and you told my friend you were intrigued. I thought … I thought you liked it.”

Noel smiled pityingly.

“Robin, believe me when I say that yours is by far the worst book I have ever had the misfortune to read.”

[to be continued]



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