Posted in From The Editor's Desk

So You Have Decided to hire an Editor … Now What?

Make sure you know what kind of edit you are asking for.

There are differences between a developmental edit (also known as substantive editing or structural editing): “the big picture” feedback on structure, style, pacing, and voice.

“The strongest part/s of the book is when …”
“The weakest part of the book is when…”
“Try to change the opening to highlight …”

are all things your editor will comment on when doing a developmental edit.

 And line editing (or paragraph level editing) – recasting sentences for clarity and flow.  You may see suggestions and comments from your editor on how to fix the following:

“You use too many adjectives…”
“This wording doesn’t fit your intended audience…”
“Change the length of your sentences so they are not all the same length…”

Why vary the length of your sentences? 

The reader will not get bored that way. Short sentences make your manuscript seem childish and/or choppy, and bland. Long sentences are hard to read in a row. Listen out loud to your sentences, use your computer for this, or read it out loud, to hear the rhythm in your sentences.  See where you can combine your shorter sentences into a medium length one, and cut down the descriptiveness in your long sentences by eliminating passive voice (is, was, were, has), and eliminate repetition. Get to the point.
 
Also, be sure to pick an editor that is strong in your genre. A developmental edit for non-fiction is different than fiction, or science fiction.

 Prepare yourself for feedback, criticism, and direction.

I know how it would be easy to let your mom, or your aunt, your coworker, or your best friend read your manuscript and make suggestions, and think “hey, so if they can do that, why hire an editor? They have my best interest at heart.” Yes, they do, I don’t want to take away from your friends, families, and co-workers. However, sometimes those close friends and family members won’t tell you what you need to hear, in fear of hurting your feelings, or won’t look as deeply at your manuscript to find the things that aren’t working, such as tenses and change of hair color of your main character.  Don’t misunderstand me, your family and friends play an important part of your support structure. But hiring an “outsider” is the best thing you could do.

Once you release your darlings into the world, a second pair of eyes sees it from a different perspective. A fresh one. Don’t be upset when your favorite part of your book comes back all “red-penned” to death.  It’s my job to give you a point of view you may not consider, ie: head hopping in your characters. Try to picture your main character with a video camera on his / her forehead, and only pointing in one direction. That’s all your character sees. Not behind the door, down the block, or what’s not in their range of vision or hearing. IF you need to change perspectives, pass the camera.

Speaking of head-hopping, check out my latest blog post, “Choosing the Right Point of View for Your Story. Point of view is part of head-hopping, because it’s putting on the blinders and seeing what is going on just from the character that colors the story. Consider this as you write your characters.

It’s your choice to take the advice or not that I give you, but be willing to consider the changes offered. Feel free to agree there’s a problem, but not how the editor suggests to fix it. Talk it over with me. Brainstorm with me. We may come up with a better solution.

Don’t be afraid to tell your editor what you want your book to accomplish.

“What do you want the reader to take away from this?” is a question I ask all my clients.  What do you want your reader to feel when they turn the last page. If you tell me what you want, I can help craft your manuscript with the right emotion, turn of phrase, and details that will guide you to that end.

Posted in From The Editor's Desk, Grammar, Writing

Choosing the Right Point of View for Your Story

Point of View

The Narrator’s personality and perspective helps shape the reader’s perspective, and how the story unfolds. The reader sees what the character experiences from their point of view (POV).

Why Point of View?

POV helps us understand motives, desires, and empathize with characters and what they are going through. Ursula Le Guin, in Steering the Craft says, “The technical term for describing who is telling the story and what their relation to the story is” (page 83).

First Person POV

Use of “I”, or, in plural first person, “we”. This is used in both autobiographical writing and narration

Examples: Charles Dickens’ character introduction in the opening of the chapter “I Am Born” in David Copperfield (1850).

‘Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night’ (page 1).

Second Person POV

Use of word “you”. Sort of a ‘choose your own adventure’. When I think of this, which is a very uncommon type of POV that we see, since it’s hard to write and keep consistent. Why do I say it’s a ‘choose your own adventure’ type? Because the reader imagines themselves performing each action. One of my favorite books that showcases second person POV is Italo Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler

Now you are on the bus, standing in the crowd, hanging from a strap by your arm, and you begin undoing the package with your free hand, making movements something like a monkey, a monkey who wants to peel a banana and at the same time cling to the bough.’ (page 7).

 

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Editor’s Note: For an interesting Study in Second Person and Calvino, check out DarWrites

Third Person POV

Use of words he, she, it, they. In today’s world, don’t forget about gender-neutral pronouns as well. Third person POV can stay in one character’s head, or move freely between characters.

Limited POV 

Only see what’s happening through the character that is narrating, very narrow, and only colored through what our character thinks/ feels / believes about the characters and events around him/her.

Omniscient

“Non-involved narrator”. Narrator sees all and knows all, including the character’s private thoughts and feelings.  Ursula Le Guin, in Steering the Craft’s chapter “Point of View and Voice” says, “the narrator knows the whole story, tells it because it is important, and is profoundly involved with all the characters.”

 

BONUS MATERIAL:
If you’ve gotten this far, congratulations! Here’s an extra grammar maven tip that comes from my very good friend and fellow grammarian, Melissa Case about Reflexive Pronouns Me, Myself & I: How and How NOT to Use Reflexive Pronouns on Medium.

 

Featured image courtesy of grammarly