Sunday, March 18, 2012

Editing an editor...

I spend large parts of most days doing some type of editing for other people. My job at Entangled Publishing keeps me busy, but I also do some freelance work, edit for my classes at Wake Tech, and sometimes even get asked to edit by my two teen daughters. I am fortunate to work with awesome authors at Entangled--they are very patient when they get manuscripts back with lots of questions and edits. My daughters, on the other hand, will argue until midnight about a grammatical choice or rule. sigh.

Yes, I enjoy editing. I love thinking through other people's plots and wondering "what if?" and "why not" and "wtf?". Recently, I got to be on the other side of an editor and let me tell you, it was eye-opening.

I have three things publishing this year. I knew I would be getting edits on each and I totally knew there would be lots of work to do. But, wow! I look at the manuscript I sent in and the editor marks and I think, "Did I read this through before sending it?" One manuscript, I had all kind of redundancies. I mean say something, say it again, then say it a third time with thoughts. Really? I am always marking redundancies in other people's stuff--oblivious that it is one of my biggest issues. Oh, I have favorite words, like "just" and "looked" and "chocolate" (not really on the chocolate--but I am craving some Cadbury right now). I use these words a zillion times per chapter. And commas--do I just totally lose my comma-sense when I write? Apparently! Throw in a few tense shifts and POV shifts, and...I think you can get the picture. Lots of work!

What have I learned from going through a couple rounds of edits? I love my editors. Yep. I am so grateful to have an extra review of my writing. The editors I have worked with have not only cleaned up the grammatical garbage, but asked great questions that made me think about motivations and such. My books are definitely better because of them. I can't believe some of the mistakes I made--and some of the unanswered questions I left hanging out there. I am learning so much about my own writing style and my own "issues"--and I am so appreciative!

I often suggest to my authors that they do a global search for this word or that (words they overuse), or check for a certain gesture that gets used again and again (I won't mention the one I overuse...apparently, I need therapy). If they need world-building help, I suggest certain things (go through and make sure you are using all the senses, etc). If they need to work on the romance arc--go through and do a strictly "romance pass". Yes, most of these ideas are obvious, but I think it helps to have someone on your side pointing it out specifically (in a nice way, of course). There is so much involved in crafting a novel--it is difficult!

I keep my own notebook--things that keep popping up again and again in my writing. All and all, I know it will help make me a better writer. I like having a list of things to polish once I think my manuscript is submission-ready. Hey, I need all the help I can get.

What type of "writerly" crimes do you find yourself committing again and again? What tools do you use to make sure you catch them in your manuscript?


  1. I abuse ellipses and adverbs. I have a list of repetitive words about a mile long. And I have on more than one occassion used the word "because" twice in the same sentence.

  2. Hi Kerry -

    I have to say when I got my first round edits for Night Walker, my editor mentioned I should do a global search for "began to" and "started to".

    I did and BLUSHED when I found about 700 instances of those two combinations... YIKES!!! How did I miss that???

    Apparently my characters never really did anything they just started to, or began to... LOL

    And how did I miss that??? I'd been through that book a million times!

    But I think a good editor saves us from ourselves because we get so numb after self-editing a few times. We stop seeing...

    I love my editor too! LOL

    Great blog!

    Lisa :)