Tips for Editing Your Manuscript from a Real-Life Editor, Part 7

Part 1: Look it up!Part 2:  Read it out loud.Part 3:  Have someone who knows what they're doing read it.Part 4:  Consistency, consistency, consistency!Part 5:  Dialogue tag...you're NOT it!Part 6: Pick the right word to say what you mean.This is part 7: Adverbs--Kill it with fire! Or, as Stephen King says in On Writing: "The road to hell is paved with adverbs."Apply adverbs here...That might sound like a little extreme, but trust me, adverbs are not your friend. What's an adverb? It's basically the equivalent of what an adjective is to a noun, but it's a word that describes or modifies another adverb, adjective or, most commonly, a verb--how something is done. Often--but not always--they end in "ly".He walked slowly.  How did he walk? Slowly.She talked quietly.  How did she talk? Quietly.You get the idea.So what's the problem with adverbs? Description is good, right? And I'm always on everyone about showing, not telling (*maniacal laughter* You just wait...there'll be an entry...
Read More

Tips for Editing Your Manuscript from a Real-Life Editor, Part 6.5

Because it's not often that the world says, "Here's a real-life example of that thing you're always talking about! Have at it!", I'm doing a little bonus post here for you lovely readers.The awesome Dear Abby has a letter up that, I think, a lot of people could have written nowadays. And, quite frankly, this exact letter is why I'm writing this series on editing your own stuff.  The full text of the letter (and Abby's response) is below, though the link back to the actual letter is above, so I'm not plagiarizing, I promise.DEAR ABBY: My friend's husband has been writing a novel for several years. He just self-published it, and it's available on Amazon. He gave me a copy, asked me to read it and enter a great review on the Amazon page. The problem is the book is filled with misused and misspelled words, and there is missing punctuation. He even switched the names of two characters. (His...
Read More

Tips for Editing Your Manuscript from a Real-Life Editor, Part 6

Since it's been a while, before we begin, here are the links to the others in this series. You can also search by the tags.  Either way is fine. Part 1: Look it up!Part 2:  Read it out loud.Part 3:  Have someone who knows what they're doing read it.Part 4:  Consistency, consistency, consistency!Part 5:  Dialogue tag...you're NOT it!This is part six of my series, Tips for Editing Your Manuscript from a Real-Life Editor, and this time, I want to drill  into your brains the importance of actually using the word you should be using. Part 6: Pick the right word to say what you mean.This simple task, when employed with your manuscript or article or whatever you're writing, can save you a lot of trouble.  Acquisitions editors will think you're awesome and be more likely to contract your work; your readers will tell their friends to read your work because you're so well-spoken; your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will tell stories...
Read More

Tips for Editing Your Manuscript from a Real-Life Editor, Part 5

Since this little editing series is clearly getting away from me, I'm just going to make these links to the previous entries a permanent fixture in the beginning of each one.  Yay for easy access! Part 1:  Look it up!  Part 2:  Read it out loud.  Part 3:  Have someone who knows what they're doing read it.  Part 4:  Consistency, consistency, consistency!And now, introducing...5) Dialogue tag...you're NOT it!Have I mentioned I love puns? Anyway...A dialogue tag is a little verb that assigns speech to a character.  Here's a great article on them that's definitely worth the read, but I'm going to go over them in general terms.  I will also assume that whoever is reading this is reasonably skilled at writing and is now in the editing process.  This is, after all, an editing tips post, and I'm assuming that we're working with a finished manuscript and it's being edited and cleaned up.  I'm a big proponent of writing what...
Read More

Tips for Editing Your Manuscript from a Real-Life Editor, Part 4

Whoa! Someone's on a blogging roll now! Part 1 of this series of entries on how to do a great job of editing your manuscript to ready it for publication (self-pub or traditional publishing, makes no matter to me), discussed looking up things you don't know, or verifying information. Part 2 was all about looking like a crazy person (hey, if you're a writer, you already hear voices in your head...) and reading your work out loud to yourself to catch errors, especially in dialogue. Part 3 went over having someone who really knows what they're doing look your manuscript over. And part 4 is about...4)  Consistency, consistency, consistency! Um, okay, but what the heck does that even mean? One way to interpret that is to write consistently (a bit every day) and edit consistently as well.  And that's awesome advice, but that's not how I mean it.Because this series is about editing, I'm begging you to use versions of...
Read More

Tips for Editing Your Manuscript from a Real-Life Editor, Part 3

To recap, the first tip for doing a good job on editing your own manuscript encouraged you lovely writers to look it up.  The second one wanted you to read your manuscript out loud to yourself. Onward to the third one!3) Have someone who knows what they're doing read it.And by that, I mean a professional editor, or a beta reader, or a critique group in your local writer's association, or some form of one of these things. I can't tell you the number of times I (and my fellow editors...yes, we talk about this stuff) have heard some variation of:  "Thanks, but I can't afford [your services] right now, so I'll have my friend who's an English major/English teacher/blogger friend/sister in high school who gets straight A's in English/etc. read it over for me. That's pretty much the same thing as what you do, right?"There's a reason we charge what we do, and that's because we know what to look...
Read More

Tips for Editing Your Manuscript from a Real-Life Editor, Part 2

So my first tip in this series was to look things up if you don't know them.  Seems intuitive enough, right?  Well, my second tip for effectively editing your own work might not be as obvious...2)  Read it out loud.I mean exactly what this says...read your work out loud to yourself.  Or you can read it out loud to some lucky person you've suckered into listening.  Doesn't really matter.  Just make sure you read it--ALL of it--out loud.  Slowly. Why do this, you ask?  Won't this take forever? Yes, it can.  But reading your manuscript aloud to yourself can help you find errors, particularly of the kind that result in wonky-sounding sentences, that you wouldn't find otherwise.  Trust me on this.  Something about hearing it for real rather than in your head makes you process the words in a different way.  If it sounds strange out loud, it sounds strange on paper and you can fix it.  This is especially effective...
Read More

Tips for Editing Your Manuscript from a Real-Life Editor, Part 1

In this new year, I'd like to do more to help my fellow writers.  I've always been inspired by the lovely Susan Kaye Quinn, who has always been so open to assisting other authors who ask for it.  She even compiled a new ebook that combines a series of blog entries (along with new material) to help folks make up their mind whether they want to self-publish or not, and how to do just that. But what to help other authors with, exactly?  What skill set do I have that I can use for the greater good?Well, I'm an editor.  A real-life professional one.  So we'll start there.  I'll give a few credentials to start...I'm contracted with a mid-size publisher to edit with them. I do free-lance editing, as well as critiquing in various forms for people.  I've also been part of a team that accepts/rejects online submissions to an online story archive.  So I've been editing in some form...
Read More

“O” is for Oatmeal

And when I say Oatmeal, I mean The Oatmeal, a creation of Matthew Inman, a former programmer who now makes his living from his hilarious and well-drawn web comics.  Among other things, his commentaries often focus on observational humor (such as Every time is snows in a big city), current events (Why Netflix is splitting itself in two), real-life experiences (Cat vs. Internet), and my personal favorite, grammar and punctuation. Honestly, I've learned more about proper usage of certain things through The Oatmeal's little drawings than my whole brick-like Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition.  I even have posters of his grammar comics. Yeah.  Be jealous.  You know you want them, too. Here. Learn to use a semi-colon.Or maybe 10 words you need to stop misspelling. Or even the difference between two common sayings...flesh out and flush out, courtesy of The Oatmeal.Why haven't I put any of his comics in this blog post? Because I don't want to get sued for plagiarism....
Read More

“G” is for Grammar. And Punctuation. NSFW (a tiny bit)

Yes, I know punctuation starts with a "P", but grammar and punctuation go together like peanut butter and jelly, or salt and pepper (the spices, but the rap group would work, too), or Brangelina.  You just can't separate them. As a writer and editor, I'm rather particular about what I read and write, especially if I'm looking at something in a professional capacity.  I'm much more forgiving of things that are more stream-of-consciousness (like this blog, for example), but most of the time, errors in G&P take me right out of whatever I've been reading and make me want to facepunch something.  Rather than give you a whole bunch of reasons on why I'm anal retentive about grammar, let me go ahead and give you some images of real-world examples. In picture form, because, frankly, I like finding and posting them. Some of the pictures are a little NSFW (not safe for work) but if you have any kids who can't read...
Read More
12