Thursday, May 28, 2015

June 2015: Be Fearless - Seek and Heed an Editor

I won a book in a drawing and promised the author I would review it. It is the first book in a trilogy.The book's concept is wonderful. It presented another world where elves and ogres exist. The plot includes a young woman captured from earth by an elf who was betrothed to her at birth. He risks entering the human world because he needs her to avert an uprising in his world. The author's creative mind and the storyline both have great potential. 

My eagerness to read this story was halted by the abrupt changes in point of view, inconsistent verb tenses, run-on sentences, incomplete phrases, grammatical errors, spelling errors, and missing words. These writing errors plague me and many of my colleagues. It is the reason why writers use alpha readers, beta readers, and attend a critique groups. Even though I can write a book in 30 days. It takes me months to clean up my creations.

My heart went out to the author who paid someone to edit her book. She needs to get a refund. Her editor did not serve her well. This jewel of an idea wasn't polished. The lesson for all of us is don't print something if it is not ready.   

As frustrating and hard it is to hear someone else correct spelling, verb tense, misplaced modifiers, point out capitalization needs, and split verbs, a writer must accept a well-recommended editor or proof reader's suggestions. You book reflects you and when you publish it, the world sees you. 

Editors are important to producing the best publishing product. Self-publishing authors need to practice caution when selecting someone to assist them in revisions. Think of your manuscript like your child, perfect until you get that call from his or her teacher, the principal, or the truant officer. 

Yes, it is a great story, but it needs a bit of a revision. The links below direct you to other blog sites discussing what to look for in the editing process and in a freelance editor. Remember editing takes you to the "re-vision" journey.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

May 2015 - Be Fearless: 'Kill Your Darlings'

     More than a century ago, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, a Cambridge University lecturer, authored the term, "murder your darlings.William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Stephen King, and Mark Twain also received attribution for the writing advice: "Kill Your Darlings.This phrase instructs the writer to edit and revise without emotional attachment. These three words remind writers to weed their writing of extraneous descriptions and flowery language.

       Every writer is guilty of harboring 'darlings' in my manuscripts. They include characters, settings, favorite words, phrases, and places. When I take off my writer's hat and put on my editor's glasses my darlings become glaring.

         One must plan to "kill their darlings."
1) Put the manuscript away. Give your document a rest. Clear your mind and desk of any evidence of its existence.
2) Exam your work as if is you are editing someone else's manuscript. Search for the following 'darling' symptoms:

  • cliches: they make the writer look lazy
  • rambling descriptions: the reader wants the plot to flow
  • semicolons: if you think you need a semicolon, check to see if you need a period instead
  •  characters names starting with the same letter or rhyming with another character: readers want each character to be an individual
  • redundancies: words or following a perfect sentence with another sentence with the same message.

3) Clear language is a goal. Eliminate excessive use of adverbs and prepositional phrases.
4)  Ensure the pacing and momentum of the story is smooth and steady.
5)  Read your manuscript aloud.

          Seems simple, but these are our "darlings." We are attached to them. We like them or don't even recognize how comfortable we are with them. So if you are paralyzed by love and can't remove your darlings, create a file and place the remains of all your "darlings" in this file. The removal of your words won't seem as final if they are in exiled in a file named "darlings.Perhaps one of our stashed "darling" can be resurrected in another story.