Tag Archives: editing

Me, the Beast and that B!+*# in Louboutins

Two things:

1. Turns out you can eat too many sugar cookies.

2. Writing sucks. Here’s why: Somewhere between inspiration and completion lies a battle zone, where muse and inner critic wage war. And here’s a glimpse of what it looks like at my place:

She made a disgusted noise—you know the one that starts with a ‘t’ sound and ends with an exasperated sigh. “You aren’t really going to do that, are you? End a scene like that?”

“Um. Sort of?” I say. I realize how lame it sounds. End every scene on an emotional shift. End every scene on an emotional shift. If she’s told me once, she’s told me a thousand times.

“I heard that,” she says.

“What?”

“‘Told me once, told me a thousand times.’ What did I tell you about clichés?”

“That they’re…bad?”

“Hmph.” She bends forward, rests a manicured hand on my desktop and adjusts her glasses with the other. She peers closely at the screen and then turns to me, incredulous. “Did you just use an adverb?”

“Ahh.”

I did. I totally used an adverb. I was in a hurry. I thought it sounded okay. I didn’t think anyone would get hurt. Oh god. There’s just no excuse. Not when SHE’S around.

SHE is inner critic, editor in chief and nothing satisfies her. She’s tall, effortlessly thin. You know the type: power suit, lip-liner and those shoes with the red soles—the-I-can’t-remember-the-name-of-thems.

Louboutins,” she says with a perfect French accent.

“Huh?”

“The shoes. They’re Louboutins.”

“Oh, right.”

“Wouldn’t kill you to do some research now and then, you know.”

I try to catch the Beast’s eye, but he’s reclining on the other side of my desk, feet up, examining what appears to be a booger at the tip of one filthy finger.

She clears her throat and taps one crimson nail on my monitor. “Are you with me, Karen?”

“Yes.”

“Then fix this,” she hisses, her finger underscoring the adverb.

She pulls back. “Oh my God. Did you just attribute my dialogue?”

“Ahhh.”

She throws her arms up and storms for the door, pausing long enough to mutter to the Beast before she leaves: “I can’t work with her. She’s hopeless. Don’t waste your time.”

The Beast does nothing. The door slams and I spend a few moments staring at my hands lying limp on the keyboard.

Finally, I look up and try to snag his eye. “That’s good, right? We can finally get some work done.”

He leans forward and wipes the booger on the underside of my desk. “Maybe,” he says. “If you’d get your ass off that blog.”

Sigh.

Here’s hoping you win your creative battles today.

 

 

Getting Professional Help or Why I Hired an Editor

Look, no literary agent wants to touch your dangling participle.

Whether you plan to parade on your manuscript on submission, or you’re about to self-publish with Lulu, you should consider getting professional help. I’m talking book doctor, word-slush-slinger-extraordinaire. At worst, you’ll get a one-on-one education and skills you get to keep for life. At best, you’ll end up with a polished, publishable manuscript that you can be proud to show the world.

While friends, family members and critique partners are invaluable, there are things they won’t tell you—can’t tell you—that a paid professional will.

Here’s a brief rundown on the different types of editing:

Developmental Editing

This is big picture, high-level stuff. Rather than grammar or even tone, a developmental editor is looking at character development, plot problems and for when the thread of tension goes slack. It’s something to consider early on, perhaps even before the whole manuscript is complete.

Line Editing

A line editor will look at your dialogue and prose to ensure that the tone is consistent. They’ll help you craft your book into a polished piece you can be proud of.

Copy Editing

A final step in editing—this is where you can make sure your grammar, usage, spelling and punctuation are correct.

Great, where do I get one?

Beware gypsies, tramps and thieves, That Which Seems Too Good To Be True and anyone cautioned against on Editors and Predators. Ask fellow writers, try writers’ forums or your critique group. Shop around, ask for quotes and even request samples. Be aware that not every editor accepts every customer. Don’t be afraid to ask for references. Snoop.

Will an editor be mean to me?

A good editor is going to be honest. And if that means pointing out where you’re running afoul, it’s good for you in the long run. However a good editor is also going to point out what you’re doing right and that’s just as valuable. Plus, it’s going to feel great. Listen to what they say. You don’t have to take every suggestion—it’s your book and if you don’t agree, by no means should you take their advice. But consider it. That’s all you need to do: Consider it.

Is it expensive?

It can be. But there are also great editors that are affordable. Think of it as an investment, if not in a saleable book, an investment in your career as a writer. It’s tuition to your very own private writing school.

Will it pay off?

Hiring an editor demonstrates pride in your work and a willingness to invest in your novel’s success. It won’t guarantee you’ll land an agent, get you a big fat book deal or sell a million books on Kindle. But your book will be more polished and professional and who knows? You might learn a lot along the way.

Look, you really weren’t planning on going out there with all those split infinitives, were you?