Saturday, May 30, 2015

Another post that discusses how the different kinds of editing can help you

10 Things Your Freelance Editor Might Not Tell You—But Should

Such a good post about how editors can help authors, and what the different kinds of editors can do. I just did a copy edit on a book that seemed to drag for the first half--the characters were doing things, but they seemed flat and two-dimensional to me. They didn't leap off the page, and I found myself feeling like the book was a slog. Then, after I was over halfway through, the book got a lot more engaging and I was very interested in the characters and what they were doing.

Now, here's why I'm "only" a copy editor and a proofreader: I had no idea at all how to help the author make the story better in the first half. I haven't a clue what makes me care about a character and root for him/her. I just know if I do care, or if I don't care. It either flips my switch as a reader, or it doesn't. If I hadn't been paid to read that book, it would have been a DNF and I would have missed the last part, which was quite good. So when I turned the ms back in, I included a note with my impressions and let the experts work on it from there.

So basically, I can grammar the shit out of some shit, but as far as world-building and character development and structure, I got nothing. I respect to the point of awe developmental and structural editors who can see the bones of the story and work with the author to bring life to the characters and make a story a compelling read. We all have to know our strengths, and rock them!

Sunday, May 10, 2015


Ever start something that was just so poorly edited that you couldn't finish? Me, too. It's sad because sometimes the plot was exciting and the characters were engaging, but I just couldn't take anymore. I've even passed on free ebooks because too many of the comments mentioned poor editing. It just makes reading painful, and I've got too many books in my TBR list to put up with that!

So do yourself and your readers a favor and have your work professionally edited if at all possible. If that's not possible, consider downloading a grammar-checking aid like Grammarly. No, this will not take the place of a professional editor. But it will call your attention to items that you should check. It's wrong sometimes, so don't trust it blindly, but at least see what it is marking as errors.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Grammar Ninja has a new gig!

I'm so very excited to post that I've been editing at Red Quill Editing, LLC for the past little bit. I've already finished my first manuscript for Red Quill, an upcoming release by Carrie Ann Ryan!

I'm looking forward to a long and happy relationship with Ekatarina at Red Quill, and very much appreciate the opportunity.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Dangle much?

I saw this on George Takei's Facebook feed, and just had to make a blog post about it. The sub-header on this photo is abysmal! Let's correct the word order so it reads the way it was intended: "After getting made fun of, thousands of women are going to dance with one lucky guy."

What's the problem? A dangling modifier: "After getting made fun of" is a modifier that tells why thousands of women are going to dance with one lucky guy. But the way this sentence is worded, it looks like the women were getting made fun of, and that's why they're dancing.

The headline has the right of it, though. The man was recorded dancing at a club and shamed online, and thousands of women saw his story on the internet and decided to host the dance party.

The sentence obviously doesn't work the way it was originally written, and just changing the word order doesn't help. So, for clarity's sake, we're going to pretend it was written like this: "Thousands of women are going to dance with one lucky guy after he was made fun of online." Or something like that.

Dance on!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Another blog post on the utility of editors

This article has some "very" good tips for cleaner writing!

Writers can usually remove well over half of the instances of "that" in their work, but it's insidious! Even the blog post has a few unneeded "thats," such as the one here:

I found this so helpful, that I thought I would share some of her insights.

I do like this analogy quite a bit:

"Good editors are like really talented makeup artists; they recognize and enhance your unique beauty, but don’t completely change the way you look."

That's the name of the game. The semicolon is used correctly in that sentence, but a later sentence in the same paragraph could use some tidying up:

"I don’t actually think she’s frustrated, she doesn’t act like it anyway, the title of this article was purely for comedic value."

An editor could go a few different directions on that one. What do you think?

The comments are interesting, too! One of the commentors pointed out one of the misused semicolons in the piece. Semicolons have many uses:

  • Joining two clauses that could stand alone
  • Separating serial parts of a sentence in situations where a comma could be confusing
  • Winking smiley faces

But when you're introducing examples, a colon should be used instead of a semicolon.

I wrote;
I grew up in a very small, rural town in Canada, where you rarely honked at other drivers other than as a friendly hello, but you often had to honk at a cow to get off the road.
Editor’s change;
I grew up in a tiny rural town in Canada, where you rarely honked at other drivers….
Both of the semicolons in the example above should be replaced with colons.

I adore editing! It's one of the things I can do to help make the world a slightly tidier place.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Editors: what are they worth? Blog post by Theo Fenraven

Really nice post by Theo Fenraven on why editing is important, and how to choose an editor:

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Zombie editing

I have a pronounced weakness for post-apocalypse fiction. It's not the apocalypse itself that gets me, it's the sociological implications of the collapse and rebuilding. So one of the genres I enjoy happens to be zombie fiction. I've read quite a bit, and I have to say that the recent resurgence of zombies into popular culture has proven to be a boon for those of my ilk.

A very brief list of the books/series I have read and enjoyed:
Newsflesh, by Mira Grant
Apocalypse Z, by Manel Loureiro
and of course, World War Z, by Max Brooks.
Even Diana Gabaldon wrote an Outlander novella with zombies!

I'm reading an interesting zombie series now, and will be dropping the author a line to offer editing services. The books have many errors in word choice, not in spelling. For instance, the survivors used water canon instead of water cannon, and that is just one tiny example. Your average spell-check would pass right by these, but they will catch the eye of the reader. I hope that I can convince the author to engage a professional editor, even if it's someone other than yours truly!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Reddit post: "Don't Insult the Editor"

Here's the text of the original post, and the comments are definitely worth reading as well:

It might be silly to even say this, but I highly advise not insulting agents or editors when responding to rejection letters. Even if they're mean or belittle you, even if you feel like a great injustice has occurred, please just take a breath and move on.
However, if they've treated you in a way you think might not represent the best interests of their publication or company, do figure out who to email that might supervise the agent or editor. Let that person know you've been mistreated.
This happens way too often, and it doesn't make sense to me because my rejection letters usually read as follows:
Thanks again for submitting to [publisher]. Your manuscript had [specific thing that worked well] and [maybe another thing that worked], but because of [reason for rejection] I've decided to pass on it for me.
In today's rejection that prompted this post, I'd given a simple reason: the prose wasn't where it needed to be, that another round or two of revisions were necessary before I could get behind it. The author responded by trying to make me feel bad, shaming me for saying their writing wasn't good enough to be published.
And that sucks for them because such an attitude is going to get you absolutely nowhere if your goal is to find traditional publication. Even if I'd been mean or cruel, it would have been a bad move on the author's part to send a defensive response (or in this case, an attack, since the author seemed less concerned with the possibility of the truth of my assessment and more so with letting me know she didn't approve of how I handled things).
Normally I just delete these emails and move on. But today I recalled how many times I've been in a workshop or read about an author sweeping their Amazon review page or whatever else with the intention of defending their work. You don't need to do this. Your work should stand on its own, to use the cliche (which you shouldn't do in your fiction :P). If an agent doesn't like it, for whatever reason, that means they're not your agent. If they were mean to you, that means they've even less your agent. Sucks for them. Move on and find your agent.
I want to help authors. That's what editors and agents do. We help authors get published. It's really hard to do this job when authors have shitty attitudes. Agents and editors can have shitty attitudes too, and that's bad for them and the publishers and clients they work with, but a quick and easy way to drastically increase your ability to be published is to treat other people in the industry how you'd want to be treated. Don't lash out at an editor because of a rejection; stop and listen to the reasons for the rejection. This author could have instead asked for clarification, which I would have happily provided. Instead they got their email deleted and have less of a chance to get their book published.
TL:DR: be nice, yo.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Your friendly neighborhood apostrophe

Friendly advice from a favorite online comic, The Oatmeal, about apostrophes.

One of the funniest fails I've ever seen was in an ad for Free Puppie's. So, so close!

Is passive voice really THAT bad?

No, it's not that bad. But it can be lazy, and I'll change it if I can do so without resorting to verbal gymnastics. By zombies.

Monday, January 19, 2015

What is a copy editor, anyway?

I like to warn new authors not to panic when they see the first markup of their book. It generally looks like a bloodbath, and their first reaction is to wig out at all the edits. My standard approach is to tell them that their job is to get their book written. They're doing the heavy lifting: either building a world, creating characters, and getting a plot in motion; or gathering facts, organizing them, and making the whole into a readable book. My job is to come in afterward with a mop and feather duster and clean up after the construction!

The Society for Editors and Proofreaders describes the copy editor's job very well. We do not try to re-write the book, but instead correct errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, usage, and, depending on the author's needs, style. We will ensure proper flow and make sure that the author isn't omitting anything: the author knows the material so well that she may inadvertently leave out important information. We make decisions about consistency, especially in novels that use dialects. (I edited a Scottish time-travel romance [not Outlander, though I sure wish it had been!], and let the hero use "No" as well as "Nay" throughout the book. I use "No," "Nope," "Not a bit," "Not at all," "No way," and "Nuh-uh," so didn't consider it important that the hero used "No" sometimes and "Nay" other times. I was overridden by the head editor, though.)

Some of what I do as a copy editor can also fall under "line editing" but I do not go into structural editing. I assume that the author knows what he wants to say, and I make it as clean and tidy and internally consistent as possible! If you have any questions about what I can do for you, please use the Contact section to inquire.

I am not alone

I'm always glad to run across people who have the same reaction to poor grammar, spelling, punctuation, and usage that I do. Hyperbole and a Half addresses it artistically, and hilariously. I love that alot.