Kinda sounds like a show on PBS, huh? Well, it’s not. I seriously have some knowledge to share. Being an editor as well as a writer has definitely improved my writing skills. It also provides me better insight into what my editors has to go through when looking at my manuscript.
With my first release, The Rebound, I was completely blindsided as to what to expect. I had no idea what I was getting into with the editing process which, if you’ve never gone through it, is akin to having your internal organs slowly ripped out Braveheart style.
My first time editing there were a lot of tears and many curse words. I was sad, I was embarrassed, I was furious, I was depressed. Yeah, it was ugly.
But now that I’m editing, I see where the editor was coming from. Rather than being mean, as I assumed, I know see she tore me apart out of nothing but love and affection. Yeah, it felt like going through a meat grinder, but in the end, the book was so much better.
Now that I’ve been at this for a while, on both sides of the fence, I feel I can confidently share a few words of wisdom and some things that I wish someone had shared with me when I was just starting out.
- Formatting is important. No, it isn’t your editor’s job. Read the house style and follow it. It is time consuming and boring and it is the last thing your editor wants to do for you. Start off on the right foot by following the guidelines set by the company.
- Em dashes are used to emphasize a thought or if someone is interrupted, ellipses are used for trailed off thought. Don’t overuse either. The same with exclamation points! Sure they are exciting! But if used too much, they become annoying! Also, why would you use multiple or altering punctuation?!?!?! If you can’t relay this emotion with words, maybe you should rethink the writing thing.
- No head hopping. Switching POV is okay, but it needs to be done in sections. Give us her take on what is going on, then in the next chapter, give us his. If you need to change POV mid-chapter, use a section break to show we are changing heads. My first book was a yo-yo between the hero and heroine. At the time I thought it was good to see what each person was thinking simultaneously. Now I know better. It’s just confusing.
- He didn’t move his eyes over her because, eeeww, he’d have to take them out of his head and put them on her body. Yuck. His gaze moved over her.
- Don’t CAPITALIZE, underline, or bold words for emphasis. Use italics instead.
Okay, I could probably go on and on, but these are probably the biggest offenses I see as an editor. The one thing you want to remember is that your editor is on your side. They want the best possible product, the same as you do. They want you to succeed. If they make a suggestion, listen to it. Don’t immediately assume you know better or you they are just being mean or they just don’t “get” you.
If you strongly disagree, let them know, but be able to explain why. Editors aren’t out to alter your work, your voice, or your style, we’re here to help make it the best it can be.