Sunday, September 16, 2012

Working with your editor...

I can't make you believe how important a good editor is unless you've experienced bad editing. I'm reading several free self published books on Amazon and suddenly that point has been made crystal to everyone. I can deal with poor formatting and even a repeated word or two in a good story. What bothers me is when a story has great potential but it's marred with character flaws or plot holes. Critique partners can help or a good content editor.

I'm not a punctuation purest or even a grammatical fanatic. I love Nora Roberts so head hopping, when done well, isn't going to put me off. That being said, what does bother me is...

  • Dangling modifiers/misplaced modifiers (Learn to recognize and correct them.)
  • There instead of their or they're (and all other homonym issues) 
  • Flip flopping between American spellings/language and the Queen's English (Pick one-stick to it.)
  • Blatant pov issues ( He's thinking what a sexy smile and great pecs he has? I don't think so.)
  • Bad dialogue (There are too many examples to site.) and/or tags
  • Misspellings (You have spell check and a dictionary. Use them.)
  • Warning: cross reference words you find in your Thesaurus with your dictionary. Similar words may not have the same meaning you intend when you stick it in your sentence.
  • Please do a quick study of when and when not to capitalize. 
  • Learn when to use ellipsis and em-dashes.
  • Passive writing: he was going instead of he went
  • Pacing: if it's slow and I want to know what's going to happen, I'll breeze over the slow a point. (I have to care what's going to happen before this is even a remote possibility.)
  • And if you can't stay in the correct "tense" I will not continue to read the story no matter how interesting the story.

For all those very critical readers/reviewers out there--commas, paragraphs, and sentence formation in novels may be still loosely structured for emphasis. So if a sentence is a fragment, it may not be incorrect. The problems I see more often are run-on sentences or incomplete sentences. Once an author gets into this realm the waters get muddy. A good editor can help. Here's a trick...turn grammar and spell check on...if it underlines something...look it up. Use the Chicago Manual of Style or at least Google the problem.

Auto Crit is a service that will tell you when you have overused words, too many repeated phrases or opening conjunctives. It's very useful to the beginning writer or to the experienced perfectionist. To maintain your voice, do not remove every recommendation. Learn how to balance what you need with what might be too much.

With all this being said, even with ten peoples eyes on a manuscript, often a word will get by now and then. The more one editor has to work on your manuscript, the less likely that editor will be able to see some of these issues three or four edits later. And always remember this is the author's book. In the end, it is the author who makes the final decision on a word choice or sentence length. Editors make recommendations but aren't going to force an author to take it. If two or three different people are saying the same thing...reconsider your choices.

I hope this helps highlight the key editing crisis in self-publishing. Feel free to share.

Maureen Sevilla is an editor with The Wild Rose Press and free lances as well.   Maureen Sevilla, Editor

Monday, January 24, 2011

Editing Your Work

One thing I've been told is never edit while you're creating. Get your thoughts down, and then when you're finished go back and edit. That may take several passes. The first  pass may be for continuity. Make sure the places and characters' names are spelled the same way throughout, or make sure you didn't change someone's name mid-story. It happens. If your main character has blue eyes when the book starts, keep them that way or explain why they changed color. You're the author, you can fix it.

Spell check doesn't check everything. Make sure the word you wrote is the word you meant.  To, two, too or assure ensure. There are more. You know them, don't confuse them. Spell check won't correct words that are spelled correctly even if they aren't the correct word. If you want the word 'and' and you forget the 'd', 'an' is correctly spelled. Proof reading aloud will catch those errors.

Grammar. You say, "Ugh." I understand. Use the Chicago Manual  of Style. The ruled have changed and seem to change annually. Keeps grammar books selling. Even dictionaries have a variety of ways to spell the same word. Some grammar practices 'date' an author. Some rules are old school today and publishers have moved on. Read. See how the publishers are editing the type of book you're writing. If they use serial commas, I'd suggest you follow that practice.

Ebook publishing has changed the way the industry does everything, from contracting to promotions. Keep up with the trends. At a later date, I'd like to take each topic and break it down  for a blog.

Editor's advanced check list
  • complicated sentence structure
  • repeated sentence structure
  • run on sentences
  • no basic knowledge of grammar or punctuation
  • repeated use of a character's name
  • passive writing
  • indecisive characters
  • no conflict
  • telling not showing the story

Sunday, August 22, 2010

One Selfish Hour

You can see, why I've had a problem at my desk lately. Every time I try to write, this ghost writer gets there first. She doesn't Tweet. Poor darling just tries to catch the little blue bird when it chirps.

I know - I know - I've been lax with this blog recently. I used to be so much more diligent, but with all the social networking available, I feel like some things have fallen by the wayside...unfortunately, this blog has been one of them. I miss writing my horrible poetry and subjecting you all, my friends, to my tirades and rants when I finally look up from the pages of a book or my computer screen long enough to note some new ridiculous event which inflames my sense of irony. Sooo, here's a quick update for anyone who might be interested in what I've been up to recently... I know you're waiting with bated/baited [is that fishy?]breath.

  • Some of you know, I've been editing for The Wild Rose Press going on three years now. The books in the slide show represent a few of my authors' works. Other books on this page are by several of my critique partners. E-Publishing looks like it may be the wave of the future or as some of us see it - the present.
  • Critiquing - I've been busy working with several authors on their books and my own. They are all lovely, supportive women, struggling to make time in their busy days to do what they love!
  • Reading - Voraciously - I've consumed book after book [like a vampire at a human banquet.] Working on a paranormal can you tell?
  • Learning about social networking, finding ways to minimize time online and maximize coverage. [tweet, tweet]
  • Family - never enough time for me to spend time with my brood. Husband, five children, three son-in-laws, four grandchildren, three grand cats, many fish, four grand dogs ... and a partridge in a pear tree ... just kidding about the partridge.

As I contemplate how dear free time can be, I'm amazed at how frequently I choose work over what or who I enjoy - people I want to be with, doing things I love to do, making time for contemplation. Make time today to spend time with someone who makes you laugh and do something you want to do! Take a selfish hour for you. Everyone deserves at least one hour of his/her very own.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring's different for all of us

I know -- I know, I'm fortunate the weather is sunny and mild. The birds are all chirping announcing spring is in the air. But darn it my feet are bare and freezing and I've got a cool breesze at my back. Those of you who had snow on the ground when you woke up a day or two or go are probably ready to wring my neck. But -- hey -- Florida is supposed to be HOT HOT HOT!

I'll be whining about the heat come September or October when I won't be able to get cool. Right now I'm going to go put on my socks.