Darlene Jones: From the Archives: Why editors are essential
March 4, 2017
Read your story aloud. You’ll find that what you say and what is on the page won’t always be the same. Go with the version that came out of your mouth.
“YOU MUST have an editor.”
“Every author needs a second set of eyes.”
“Correct grammar and punctuation are essential to all writing.”
“Self-published authors are negligent if they put out a novel with errors.”
“Those who publish unedited, error filled work give self-published authors a bad name.”
True. True. True.
But self-published authors aren’t the only guilty ones.
One well known author had a main character sick in his hotel room, but after informing his travel companions that he was staying in bed, he miraculously appeared with the group on the tour bus.
In another Random House novel, two women find a naked corpse. He’s naked …, but a note is pinned to his shirt.
Or take the case of the child hiding in a hole. A truck pulls up and parks over the hole. All the child can see is the underbelly of the vehicle and the boots of the driver when he gets out. The child can also see the mother’s sandals. “The man looked straight at my mother.” Sorry, but the child can’t possibly know that.
I’ve read books where the names of the characters were spelled differently throughout, or where the names were mixed up. I’ve read books with grammar errors, spelling errors, punctuation errors. While these are perhaps minor in comparison with the examples above, they diminish the power of the story and in some instances are so distracting that the reader gives up.
Perhaps, even with the most diligent of proof reading, errors will still be found, but we must always aim for perfection.
How then do we produce an error free book?
- Read your manuscript on the computer watching for details.
- Send it to your ereader and read again. You’ll be surprised at the things that show up in a different format.
- Print it out and read it again.
- Read it aloud. You’ll find that what you say and what is on the page won’t always be the same. Go with the version that came out of your mouth.
- Get someone else to read it, but not just anyone. Friends and family will be too kind and say what they think you want to hear. Your “reader” should be an author too. They’ll know what to look for and will tell you what needs correcting.
- Join a critiquing group. Free editing from multiple readers with the same goals as you—all want to write well.
- Get a writing partner and send chapters back and forth. Not only will your partner edit, he or she will make suggestions for the story line, a valuable addition to your thought processes.
- If you can afford it, hire a substantive editor, a copy-editor, or a proofreader. Doing so will be money well spent.
Substantive Editing Services – contact Darlene Jones
Darlene Jones is the author of both science fiction and romance. Please click HERE to read more about her work.