More than a year ago I posted, Who Needs and Editor? You! If you think you don’t, you’re silly. Go back and read it.
Working with editors over the years has led me to a conclusion–there are three keys to help you develop a happy and productive author/editor relationship. Get these three things right and you won’t go wrong.
#1 Choose and editor who gets you. Yes, you need someone who is skilled in the field, but when it comes to your manuscript, it is even more important that your editor recognizes your style, tone and voice and doesn’t nix them with their editing strokes. This takes rapport at least, relationship at best. If your editor doesn’t take the time to get you, get another editor.
#2 Be very clear about the kind of editing you are looking for your editor to complete. Do you simply want a proofreading? Perhaps simple line-editing? More in-depth or substantive editing? Clarity at the get-go will make you both much more comfortable within the process.
#3 Produce a stylesheet to accompany your manuscript to your editor. If you don’t know what a manuscript stylesheet is, Google is your friend. There are several templates available on the web. Simply put, this is a sheet that will allow your editor to understand your choice of words, terms, style and formatting throughout. It will help the editor bring consistency to their work, and more importantly, to your manuscript.
There you have it… wisdom, wisdom, wisdom… and for free!
Had any good (or not so good) author/editor experiences to share?
As I said when I started this series of posts, a writer’s greatest skill should be allowing words to do their work. If we do that, our writing should be very concise. This post is a second in the series–a how-to. Kick out the clutter. See if you don’t sense the beauty of words anew.
Technique #:2 Replace redundant pairs with single words.
I think this bad habit–including unnecessary word pairs–came into practice thanks to lawyers who desire their written prose in letter and briefs to look deserving of the huge bill that will surely follow. A lawyer turns a few word couplets like aid and abet or cease and desist, and he can add another zero, left of the decimal, on the invoice. A hundred dollars just became a thousand. Do you see?
Any and all … each and every … one and only … few and far between … first and foremost … peace and quiet … and for the truly loquacious, various and sundry.
Isn’t any included in all? Each covered by every? One represented in the word only? Who even uses the word sundry anymore? Cut! Cut! Cut!
It’s biblical, this advice I’m giving you! Jesus said, “When you … write … don’t do it like lawyers who think that they’ll be heard because of their many words.” Of course that’s a paraphrase. But the point is spot-on: get rid of the fluff and let words, beautiful, meaningful words, communicate as they’re intended! Your reader will get it. They’ll appreciate that you spared them the sticky fluff.
Look back through a section of your manuscript, or the copy you’re working on today. If it reads like a lawyer, OBJECT!
“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
A writer’s greatest skill should be allowing words to do their work. If we do that, our writing should be very concise. I’m planning a series of posts here in the coming weeks–a how-to. I invite you to give these suggestions a try and see if you don’t sense the beauty of words anew.
Technique #1: Cut redundant modifiers.
In just a few exercises of looking for these little buggers, they’ll start to leap off the page at you. This is an easily curable habit!
Basic essentials … climb up … each individual … end result … free gift … new initiative … past history … personal opinion … true fact …
When was a fact ever untrue? Or your opinion not personal? Or an initiative not new?
Look closely at the modifiers you include in your writing to be sure they’re not restating the word they’re modifying. If they are, delete them. You’re one step closer to being concise.
And, come on… words like initiative, opinion and fact speak wonderfully on their own when you let them.
“Writing is done in the time we make, not the time we find.” –Amy Sue Nathan, Writer’s Digest Jul/Aug 2015