Category Archives: Quick Editing Tips

Quick Editorial Tips II

These Quick Editorial Tips are like the Jaws series, only better. More teeth.

See Quick Editorial Tips – the prequel! – here.

“Just” and “that” 

It’s just that I want to slug my editor.

OR

I want to slug my editor.

See the difference?

Overuse of adverbs

Yeah, I’ve heard it all about adverbs, repeatedly. Some writers use them responsibly.  Some writers overuse them, continuously.

A few adverbs aren’t so bad, here and there, sparingly.

White space

Extra long paragraphs in any book – e- or print – make me cringe (and fast forward).

Add white space. Either chop up your paragraphs or put more dialog in your prose. Make it easy on us readers (and editors).

Echo … echo … echo

Above I used “make me cringe.” If I used “make me cringe” on Page 12 and then again on Page 13, you would notice, right?

Even simple words, like “black,” “tired,” “strong,” “hard” – when repeated – create an “echo.”

Roget’s Thesaurus works wonders.

I answered, she expressed, he questioned

Hmmm. Mostly, I’d have to say stick with the tried and true.

Use, “he said,” “she said.”

Once in a teensy while, you can use the other schtuff – but not every dang time a character says something.

***

See Quick Editorial Tips I  

Are you writing mundanely? Do your paragraphs have an echo, echo? Do you have enough white space

in

your

novel?

***

Karen S. Elliott was raised by a mother who wanted to be an English teacher and who worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader and an aunt who could complete the Sunday NYT crossword in a day. Their favorite expression was, “Look it up!” Karen reads punctuation and grammar manuals for fun.

Karen is an editor and proofreader, blogger, and writer. She edits fiction and non-fiction including: sci-fi, fantasy, children’s, mystery, paranormal, western, horror, literary, historical, and journalism. Karen completed her writing coursework through UCLA and University of New Mexico, and was the winner of the SouthWest Writers 2009 Writing Contest – The Best Hook. Her short stories have been featured in The Rose & Thorn Journal, Every Child is Entitled to Innocence anthology, Valley Living Magazine, BewilderingStories.com, and WritingRaw.com. She is currently working on collections of short stories and poetry.

Featured shark picture by Shawn MacKenzie.

16 Comments

Filed under Editing & Proofreading, Quick Editing Tips

Quick Editorial Tips

For nearly every client – especially those for whom I am doing a beta-read or full edit – I write an Editorial Letter. In that Editorial Letter, I note (among other things):

Writing Problems

Repeated Bad Habits

Recurrent Punctuation Snafus

For those of you about to send your manuscript to an editor, here are a few things to check and/or avoid:

Overuse of pronouns

If you have more than one SHE and more than one HE in a scene, chapter, whatever, and all you use is he/she throughout. I’m confused. Your readers will be confused too.

List of Chapters

You have a list of chapters at the beginning of the book, say 30 chapters. But the book has 31 chapters. Oops.

If you are going to list chapters at the beginning of your novel, check and double check that the chapters in the Contents agree with the number of chapters in the novel.

If you name your chapters, make sure they translate from Contents to text.

Michael or Mike?

Throughout the book you call a dude “Michael.” Then in one chapter you use “Mike.”

I’m thinking, “Who’s Mike?”

Or you spell a character’s name Karen and then later you call her Karin.

Ellipsis …

A mark used to indicate that something has been omitted from a text.

Why are so many writers using these … on every dang page?

Or in one place you have…. and then you have ……. and then in another place you have …and then in another place…

If you must use the dot-dot-dot, then make them the same throughout the manuscript. Type them with a space before/space after or no space before/no space after. And the same number of dot-dot-dots.

Consistency. That’s the ticket!

Moving on …

Continue on

This is one of those things my Mother would chide me about. Continue ON is redundant. Or lift UP. Or drop DOWN. Or jump OVER.

Learn to use commas

And then you can break the rules – if you want to.

Good resources –

Diane Hacker, Rules for Writers

Strunk & White, The Elements of Style

Adjectives

He sat in a dark, red velvet, plush, antique chair with a heavy, green, cable-knit sweater around his shoulders with a well-worn, old, leather-bound book on his lap.

Okay, this is an exaggeration. But still. Some of y’all are using way too many adjectives.

I’m reminded of Anton Chekhov: Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.

Show, don’t tell.

***

Stayed tuned for more Quick Editorial Tips. A special Thank You to editor Shawn MacKenzie for her beta-read on this blog post.

See her Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photos from pb_homepage, BryBuy8, and lenakhalid – Photobucket.

***

Karen S. Elliott was raised by a mother who wanted to be an English teacher and who worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader and an aunt who could complete the Sunday NYT crossword in a day. Their favorite expression was, “Look it up!” Karen reads punctuation and grammar manuals for fun.

Karen is an editor and proofreader, blogger, and writer. She edits fiction and non-fiction including: sci-fi, fantasy, children’s, mystery, paranormal, western, horror, literary, historical, and journalism. Karen completed her writing coursework through UCLA and University of New Mexico, and was the winner of the SouthWest Writers 2009 Writing Contest – The Best Hook. Her short stories have been featured in The Rose & Thorn Journal, Every Child is Entitled to Innocence anthology, Valley Living Magazine, BewilderingStories.com, and WritingRaw.com. She is currently working on collections of short stories and poetry.

16 Comments

Filed under Editing & Proofreading, Quick Editing Tips

Proofreading Tid-Bit

Read the piece backwards. For short stories and magazine articles this is relatively easy. Read backward line by line. If you are pressed for time, read backward paragraph by paragraph. You will be surprised what you discover!

Leave a comment

Filed under E-books & E-publishing, Quick Editing Tips

You’re Your Own Worst Proofreader

A portion of the title of this tid-bit article…you’re and your. They are not interchangeable.

Contractions are one of the basic mantras we learn in grade school yet many writers and bloggers and Facebookers forget the elementary rules. Or perhaps when you’re in a hurry, your grammar suffers.

See #3 under http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/contraction

It’s rather simple. Any time that you use YOU’RE or YOUR, ask thyself, “Is this a contraction or possessive?” When using YOU’RE, try this trick – can you substitute YOU ARE for it? “You’re a great writer!” (You are a great writer), or “YOU’RE awesome!” (You are awesome).

YOUR shows possession and is good for “your bike” or “your Facebook post” or “your pictures.”

I’m sure you’re going to recognize your mistakes from now on.

Leave a comment

Filed under Editing & Proofreading, Quick Editing Tips