Showing posts with label editing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label editing. Show all posts

Friday, October 9, 2020

Nitpicky Editing

 Edits. You never know what you're going to get when you entrust you WIP to someone else's critical eye. The only way you get to pick your editor is if you're self-publishing. The rest of the time, you get the luck of the draw. 

I don't have a horror story per se - just an annoyed the crap out of me story. I had a copy editor, a copy editor I hadn't picked. This copy editor defined nitpicker. He didn't understand my genre. He had a totally literal brain and a need to prove he was smarter than anyone else. So rather than simply marking that I'd overused a word, there just had to be a condescending comment about it.

I gritted my teeth, muttered, "Fuck you" under my breath a lot. But even if I didn't appreciate the nonsense, I had to check my ego and make corrections regardless of the BS comments. I also did check in with my editor, who was amazing. I asked if it was possible to request that a copy editor NOT be assigned to my work any longer. She chuckled and said, "Yes, it is. I wondered how you'd feel about that copy edit. I disagreed with some of the edits. I feel like he was changing your voice." 

A vast wave of relief washed over me. I wasn't just being a jerk when I declined a bunch of suggested edits. I was preserving my story and my voice.

I learned several things from this experience:

  • Never submit your master  copy to your editor - keep a back up that is your clean copy. 
  • If you have concerns, always talk to your editor in a calm, professional manner.
  • If you're self-publishing, remember you hired 'em, you can fire 'em. Don't spend time furthering a mistake just because you spent a long time (or a lot of money spent) making it.
  • Ask other authors for recommendations before you hire any kind of editor. 
  • No one caution or solution will prevent poor experiences, but if you make sure you always keep a clean copy in your files, you have a fall back.

Finally, it doesn't matter how many annoying edits I get, I'll always ask for edits from someone who gets paid for doing the job. I'm not equipped to call myself on my own bad writing habits and I like my readers too much to leave those habits unchallenged. 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Who helps make your writing better?

Tan, brick wall with the words: READ WRITE CREATE EXPLORE

Ooo, I like this week’s topic: how do you define Critique Partners, Alpha Readers, and Beta Readers? I was chatting with an author friend and she mentioned her beta readers. I asked her what they do for her and she answered that they read her chapters as she writes them and offer critique. 

Beta readers, that’s great! Only…that’s what I call critique partners. So, which is it—beta readers or critique partners? Or are they alpha readers?! 

You’d think these terms would have dictionary-esque answers, but YMMV is incredibly applicable here because every writer goes through the critique/editing phase differently which means what one person calls critique partners may be beta readers to another and alpha readers to someone else! It all depends on your own process.

Which means all I can offer are my own definitions:

Critique Partners: fellow writers who read and comment on chapters as they are written or offer critique on subsequent drafts of a novel. I mostly use this term, likely because these are my close author friends whom I swap material with, a perfect partnership.

Alpha Readers: readers/writers who read my first draft, usually as it’s being written. I look to alpha readers to deliver critique on any this works and/or any whoa what happened there moments. I need excitement from alpha readers to help keep me going to reach The End.

Beta Readers: readers/writers who read subsequent drafts. I look to beta readers to deliver critique on plot holes or catch inconsistencies. 

Those are my definitions of the terms, what do you call the amazing-wonderful-people who help make your writing better?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Self-Edit & The Professional Edit

As Jeffe and James both attested, editors are necessary. Dev, line, copy, proof. Doesn't matter which path to publishing you take, having a minimum of two professional editors review your work is not an optional part of the process. In self-publishing, newbies think they can skip the professional edits and save a lot of money. No. No. Nononono.

SPEND THE MONEY, you cheapskate.

You may be an awesome editor of others' works, you may be Marian the Grammarian's sister-from-another-mister, BUT that doesn't mean you can edit your own stuff to the level necessary for publication.  As the creator, your brain simply cannot see the flaws.

However, you do need to edit your work before sending it to an editor.

Wait, but, you just said...WUT?

Look, as authors, we all know our first draft is the crap draft; it's riddled with issues. Some drafts are worse than others. It's okay. It's totally normal. It's part of the process. However, DON'T hand that shit over to a professional editor. If you're trad-publishing, you're wasting your editor's time. If you're self-publishing, you're wasting your money. You need to edit that draft.

But, but deadlines...But, but pre-orders...But, but...

But nothing. My friends, I can tell you horror stories from trad-published authors who turned in their "rough draft" only to have it be the one that got printed. Oh, the readers noticed. Oh, the author felt betrayed. Oh, the publisher didn't care. Don't set yourself up for that worst-case scenario. In the self-publishing world, if you send a rough draft to a freelance editor, they may refuse your business or charge you more money. Make your work as good as you can before sending it an editor. That includes having your CPs/Betas take a run at it, then incorporating their feedback. (Scheduling is a different topic for a different day, but don't be a dick and expect 24hr turnarounds.)

The catch is how to edit your work effectively and efficiently without over-editing it. For those of us who are perfectionists or suffering imposter-syndrome, we can all too easily fall into the viciously unending cycle of "tweaking" and micro-edits.

Let the Rule of Threes be your guide.

Then, and only then, do you send your work to the professionals. Most likely, you'll go through three more rounds of editing with their input. My experience with freelance editors in self-publishing, it's 2 rounds of Dev/Line edits then one round of copyedits. Proofreading is the final step.

No book will ever be perfect, but good editors make books a helluva lot better.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Why You Need an Editor. Yes, I'm Talking to YOU

This isn't a great shot, but these little girls are so awesomely adorable. We got to attend our granddaughter's spring dance recital yesterday. The costumes were amazing. So much fun.

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is editing: do we use editors or do it ourselves, how long does editing take, etc.

As you may have guessed from the title, I'm somewhat passionate on this topic.

Not long ago I saw several authors on a thread discussing whether they still used a developmental editor. This group of guys happened to be all self-publishing authors. One had asked about editing, who people hired, etc. The conversation grew from there, with most of them saying that they used content or developmental editors - which is an initial pass, helping to shape the story - early on in their careers. But, a number of them said, "now that they knew how to write a book/story, etc.," they didn't need to anymore.

I cry utter bullshit on this.

And I'll tell you why!

When I was younger I was a huge fan of both Anne Rice and Pat Conroy. There were a couple of years there where I gave a copy of Conroys' THE PRINCE OF TIDES to anyone I thought might not have read it, for every gift-giving opportunity. Likewise I obsessively followed Anne Rice, and I'll tell you honestly that reading her book THE WITCHING HOUR was a turning point in my life. I could say that's the book that made me want to be a writer.

Not long after that, Anne Rice rather famously went on talk shows to discuss her new book deal, and she said, "Believe me - no one edits Me." (I'd say the emphasis is my own, but she totally said it in bold with capitalization, just like that.)

Then Pat Conroy's BEACH MUSIC came out, which I eagerly devoured. Only to find it so bloated that I couldn't enjoy it. Even as a plain reader, I kept thinking that the book needed to have at least a third of the story trimmed out.

It needed a good developmental editor. So did Anne Rice.

Even though - maybe even particularly if - they didn't think so.

And I'll freely say I think they're both genius writers - but genius writers need editors, too. I'll also put out there that there is no such thing as "figuring out how to write a book/story, etc." Last week at Nebula Weekend, Grandmaster Jane Yolen, who's written over 300 books, said that each novel is different for her and she relearns how to do it every time. Writing isn't making widgets - it's not like you learn how to do it once and then replicate that ad infinitum.

Besides which: I truly believe that it's extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, for a writer to have an objective view of their own work. We need that outside lens to examine if what we intended to communicate actually made it onto the page.

So, yes, while I do edit myself, I also always use editors, also - content/developmental, line, and copy. If I'm self-publishing, I hire the toughest people I know to put my work through the wringer. In my opinion, not doing that doesn't mean you've "arrived." It only means you're kidding yourself.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Five Traits of an Ideal Developmental Editor

A good developmental editor is key for taking a book from good to great. Or from meh to great. Or even great wad of suckage to great.

I firmly believe every novelist needs a good developmental editor.

Writers of short fiction benefit from them, too, but novels in particular, with all their unwieldy size and multiple threads really cry out for that help.

What does a developmental editor do?

They are the first stage of professional editing. (Feedback from critique partners and beta readers might come before this.) A developmental editor gives generalized feedback on how the story works - where it could be cut for pacing, where more detail can be added for clarification, where emotion can be amplified, perhaps even reordering of scenes for maximum effect. In short, a developmental editor does what it's impossible in most cases for an author to do: evaluate the work objectively.

But how do you choose a really good developmental editor?

I hear a fair number of authors recommend editors saying "they're really good and they don't change my voice!"


Why? Because this is utter nonsense. I don't get this writerly terror of having their voice changed. Let me give you a little clue, folks. I'll even all-cap it so it sticks to your brain better.




So, let's talk about the actual topic: Five Traits of an Ideal Developmental Editor

  1. They can see both the forest and the trees

    An ideal developmental editor has a good feel for the overall scope of a story - or series - and can carefully track key worldbuilding details, to keep the story logic in place.
  2. They care more about the book being good than your feelings

    This is particularly important for self-publishers, because the editor is hired by the writer, instead of by the publishing house. The temptation is to keep the client happy by telling them what they want to hear. This is not good for the book. Find an editor who's willing to tell you what you don't want to hear. Then listen to them.
  3. They also tell you what works

    A good editor is able to give praise as freely and specifically as criticism. Beyond the soul-crushing of editorial critique, well-targeted love can show the flip side, where the craft and the story IS working. It's much easier to fix problems when you can study your own successes, too.
  4. They're able to offer suggestions for fixes

    Not all writers like this, but I love it. A good editor can not only say "this isn't working," but offer ideas for rephrasing, clarification, adding, cutting, etc. A smart, talented and diligent editor cares as much about the book as the writers does and can often see what the writer can't.
  5. They know the market

    The best developmental editors know their genre and what's acceptable within the reader contract. Making a book shine means knowing the potential readership and what they'll expect. Adjusting a story to adhere to genre conventions can mean the difference between delighted readers and an angry mob.
What else? Any traits of an ideal developmental editor that I missed?