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Editor Pet Peeves

March 2, 2011

Saw this post from a recent editor’s panel and thought it had some great advice.


Editor Pet Peeves From DRIVEN 2 DANGER

1.) Lack of Proofreading: This is the biggie! This is #1! Every editor agreed a submission sent with multiple errors warned of, in their opinions, an author who doesn’t care about the work and lacks the professional focus vital to a satisfactory completion of the editorial process. Check for your favorite words/phrases repeated to distraction.

3.) Start your story in the right spot: Start in the moment when your characters’ lives change. Giving the reader a history lesson on pages 1, 2, 3, slows the pace and prevents the story from moving forward.

4.) Point of View: This is divided into two problems–head-hopping and deep pov. In head-hopping, the reader sees or understands what’s happening through eyes and/or minds of multiple characters involved in that scene.

Instead of head-hopping, stay in the point of view of the character with the most at stake during that scene or chapter. Focus on that character’s thoughts, perceptions and emotions. Let the reader get to know them, feel for them, relate to them on a deep, intimate level before smoothly transitioning to another character with a big stake in the story.

Which brings us to Deep Point of View.  Editors want to know what your character sees and feels. How they see and feel it. How it affects them personally. How they react.

5.) Backstory: This was touched on in #3. Character or story history, otherwise known as backstory, slows pace. If it involves a long paragraph or several paragraphs, it sends the reader backward. Stories do not flow backward!

6.) Telling vs Showing: “Look” and “feel” are two BIG words of Telling that editors see. Naturally, your character needs to look somewhere. Constantly saying he looked there or she looked here can be tiresome. Editors want to know HOW they looked and especially HOW they felt. Exchange those two overused words for the real action, emotion, and gesture. Accomplishing that charges your scene’s atmosphere.

7.) Passive writing: The use of “There was,” or any variation, to start sentences received strong rejection from the panel. A reader wants to be plunked into the thick of things, and the way to do that is through active verbs. Utilize senses. Let your reader taste, smell, feel, see, hear your characters’ personalities. Virtually every unpublished writer uses visuals, yet ignores or short changes our other senses.

Avoid ‘laundry listing.’ This is when an author ‘lists’ events. An example would be: Jane dressed, ran her errands, and came home. She put away her groceries, poured a glass of pop, and then checked her email.

8.) Graphic language: F..k you! I don’t know about you, but I’m offended! There’s no purpose in the use of that phrase within this post.

9.) Product placement: This is the use of specific product names within your story. Editors worry readers equate this with character snobbery. It often dates writing, too, and can open an author to legal risks.

10.) Last in this list but not least, editors mentioned a fast return on requested revisions raises red flags for them. Experience has shown them that authors need time to work through the revision process, especially when an editor asked for expansions.


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