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Write and publish with love and fury.

Edit Point: One another versus each other

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“The pair looked at one another.”

No, they didn’t.

Editing is often intuitive. I could tell you, for instance, which usage is correct, but I couldn’t tell you why. It came up with a project and I got curious. Then I went to the Chicago Manual of Style. Here’s why for this one:

When two people are involved, the best way to write it is, “They looked at each other.” When it’s more than two people (or things, for that matter) use “one another.”

The distinction becomes clearer with things: “His eyesight was so poor that when he looked to the bowling pins standing at the end of the lane, they were just a soft white mass. Dave  couldn’t distinguish one  from another.” (That’s right.)

“Each other” in a group hits the reader’s eyes and ears wrong and they may not know why. (This is one reason reading aloud as you edit can be such a powerful trick of the trade.)

It’s not a big deal unless you’re a word nerd or getting paid to edit something. However, usually, if you write a passage that hits the reader wrong or makes them go back, there’s something quirky there that needs another look.

Filed under: Books, Editing, Editors, manuscript evaluation, publishing, rules of writing, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , ,

Writers: How I edit

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When I get a manuscript, I go through it carefully, of course, but there are many practicalities to keep in mind.

 

 

Most important commandment:

Make the author look good.

You want it to be correct and you want to preserve the writer’s voice and enhance the readability of the text. The author (if self-published) may wish to keep some idiosyncratic format (which is fine as long as it’s easily understood by the reader and consistent.) A publisher may have some requirements peculiar to that house. Some have preferred style guides, like the AP Style Guide or the Chicago Manual of Style or may prefer Canadian spelling to American spelling.

In the manuscript window I use the Track Changes feature in Word so the author sees every change I make, including my comments. The author then accepts or rejects each edit during the revision process.

I have some preferences, too. I avoid passive voice and too many adverbs where it’s reasonable to do so since those often indicate a weak verb choice. I strip out excess use of the comma. Commas used to be used more in text but now it’s generally accepted commas slow the reader. Semi-colons are used too much and are often used incorrectly (and almost always slow the reader.)  Gratuitous exclamation points indicate drama where there is none. Excess dialogue tags (i.e. said, replied, said, replied) can also be stripped out. Run-on sentences must be broken up. Sentence length, paragraph length and order are more evaluations to make and may conflict with formatting considerations.

(There are numerous other considerations: factual issues, narrative arc, missed opportunities, missing scenes, orphaned characters etc.,… which I’m not going to delve into in this post.)

I also have a bunch of other pages ready in the background. They are typically these:

Google, Wikipedia, Canadian and American spelling dictionaries, Chicago Manual of Style (I have the hard copy, too), Ask.com, and my email window so I can quickly jump to query the author or publisher as necessary. I’ve also used a legal dictionary and a Spanish-English dictionary. Looks like I’ve attained my childhood dream of working on the bridge of the Enterprise.

I keep a legal pad beside me to make notes (and track my time so I know I’m staying on schedule for the day.)

Editing has changed a lot. Before the Internet, there was a lot more getting up and down to run to check a reference source. Now it’s all on my pixellated desktop. I take a break every hour to do air squats (it’s a 4 Hour Body exercise I like) and the rest of the exercise comes from running back and forth from the coffee maker to the bathroom. Ah, the glamor of being a book editor.

The take away is:

Your word processing program’s spell check isn’t enough.

 

NEXT POST:

MY REACTIONS TO AND REVIEWS OF THE WRITER’S UNION SYMPOSIUM ON THE STATE OF PUBLISHING.

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Filed under: Books, Editing, Editors, publishing, self-publishing, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , ,

Writers: Use a spill file as you edit

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As you revise your writing, it can be difficult to let some passages go. Maybe a scene or chapter is just too long. Maybe one part of the narrative jigsaw puzzle sounds good but just isn’t working with everything else that works.

Editing yourself (before you hire an editor or send it on to beta readers) is difficult. You don’t want to lose gems, even when they aren’t working.

A spill file makes editing decisions easier. Open a blank document. As you go through your work, cut and paste passages that aren’t working into your spill file. It’s not just deleted and gone. It’s still there if you decide you want it back. Chances are that when you’re done, you won’t want it back.

The spill file is the writer’s wedding album: you make a big deal out of it and then hardly, if ever, look at it again.

But you’ll feel better, be more efficient and, if there is something to treasure in the spill file, you can easily bring it back into your story or start a new story from that nugget.

Filed under: authors, Books, Editing, Editors, getting it done, manuscript evaluation, publishing, writing tips, , , ,

Editing: How to take advice

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Mostly people follow the advice that appeals to them. If five people give them the same uncomfortable advice, they’ll keep asking until lucky advisor number 15 tell them what they were hoping to hear. That’s not the way to progress.

Blogging about writing and publishing can be a quixotic adventure. For instance, I went through an entire short story one time and showed the writer precisely how he could improve his writing. These were very straight-forward craft issues that got in the way of readability. The next piece he sent me had the same problems.

Not everyone has to write like I do. However, since he was so enthusiastic about my original suggestions, I wondered if it was a question of the writer needing more time to absorb the information and practice.

In a writing critique group, you can spot the defensive people quickly. They write Stet! beside each suggestion (including that tell-tale exclamation point.) Defensive writers spend a lot of time talking when their critique group colleagues ask questions or are confused. Instead, they should be listening. Any writer is free to disregard suggestions, but not during the explanation of the concern.

Is advice all for naught? Sometimes. But professional writers take advice most of the time. They aren’t so attached to their writing that they expect it will be 100% perfect on the first draft. That’s crazy-talk. Professional writers respect writing too much to make that assumption.

Just remember: an editor’s focus is the text. They’re trying to help you.

However, if you sense an editor is looking at it as a game where they’re tracking points, zeroing in on every error as if it’s a moral victory…well. Delete them.

Also, I have to mention that sometimes the advice is just bad:

At Psychology Today I found a great post called 11 Types of Bad Writing Advice.

Filed under: Editing, Editors, getting it done, manuscript evaluation, publishing, Rejection, rules of writing, Writers, , , , , , ,

Writers: Five editing tricks and tips (plus editing marks)

 

1. Editing onscreen is more difficult and less accurate than printing out your manuscript and attacking it with a pencil. Unless you’re well-practiced at editing pixels, print it out.

2. As you read your manuscript, read aloud. You will pick up more problems that way and if you run out of breath, it’s probably a run-on sentence.

3. Some experts tell you to read your manuscript backwards, one word at a time, to catch more typos. Though it is true this technique works, you must have a form of OCD to act on it. This is advice editors give, but never do themselves. If you don’t believe me, try it with any book-sized manuscript. (Wait! First make sure there are no sharp objects or firearms nearby!)

4. As you edit, read slowly. Your brain is wired to skip over mistakes when you read quickly.

5. Farm it out. You need someone else’s fresh eyes on your manuscript to see the thing you are missing. Hire editors. (Here’s one!)

Filed under: authors, Books, Editing, Editors, getting it done, publishing, rules of writing, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , ,

JANUARY 1: What’s your 2011 writing resolution?

WIP means Work In Progress.

This is my WIP.

First draft: 438 pages.

 

         

Romeo_Juliet_Jerome
Manuscript: Romeo, Juliet & Jerome

 

As Yoda said, “Edit it, Chazz, you must!”

By May 1.

Resolved it is.

Filed under: authors, Books, My fiction, publishing, What about Chazz?, Writers, , , , , , ,

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

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Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

You can pick this ebook up for free today at this link: http://bit.ly/TheNightMan

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