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    Entries in Editing (7)


    A Good Editor Is Hard to Find

    A concern I know many authors have is about how to find a good editor and make sure they aren't going to be suckered into paying good money for an editor who may do a second-rate job.

    I'm going to start this off by saying that no editor is perfect. We are, after all, human beings. It's unrealistic to expect 100 percent accuracy. Having said that, however, your editor should be able to eliminate almost all of your errors and contribute to your project in other ways, like pointing out inconsistencies, improving the syntax and storyline, etc.

    Having said that, there are some things you should look for in an editor.

    • Make sure you hire an editor with actual editing experience with real publishing companies. While your second cousin who likes to read might think she's ready to be an editor, there are many things that can't be learned in editing except through experience.  Like writing or any other skill, it's something that takes lots of time and practice to perfect. 
    • Cheaper does not always (and in fact usually doesn't) mean better! Yes, you might get a great deal from a new editor looking to break into the business, but that cheaper price can come at the expense of quality. I have personally had to re-edit several projects authors paid other unskilled editors to do, and it's an extremely frustrating situation that ends up costing more in the long run.
    • Try to get a sample edit if possible. I know many editors are cautious about doing sample edits, since there is a lot of potential for people to abuse the system and get free work out of an editor, but I believe it is beneficial for both authors and editors. With a sample, you can see if the editor's style meshes with what you are looking for and know what to expect. A few pages should be all you need to get a good picture of what the full edit will look like. As an editor who does sample edits, I also beg you not to request a sample edit if you don't have the budget to pay the editing fee. Freelance editors need to make a living just like everyone else, and time taken up with providing sample edits for authors who have no intention of paying for an edit is very frustrating.
    • Find an editor who has experience in your genre. If you're a young adult fiction author, an editor who specializes in cookbooks is probably not going to be a good fit for you. Different genres have different conventions, and an editor who has never edited in your genre probably will not be aware of them.

    These are just a few things to take into consideration when you're figuring out who should edit your book. It's an important decision that should not be taken lightly. Give yourself time to check out a few qualified editors and figure out who is the best fit for your book and your personality.


    An Awesome, Incredible, Nicely Worded, Fun, Smart Post

    So, let's talk about adjectives. I hope you know what an adjective is, but just to refresh your memory, they're descriptive words. For example, in the phrase "a red coat," red is an adjective.

    Adjectives provide valuable word pictures for your readers. Lately, however, I've run into a lot of books that have the problem of too many adjectives. Now don't get me wrong, adjectives can and should be used in writing. Writing would be odd, stilted, and boring without them. So how can you use too many? Let me demonstrate.

    The particular problem I'm addressing is when authors feel like they need to precisely describe everything about their characters in the very first sentence about them. Consider the following example:

    John threw his long, six-foot-two, 210-pound, karate-trained, brown-haired, blue-eyed, lanky, toned body in the path of the speeding, red, wide, noisy Ford.

    Can you see how this can be overkill? Authors, please resist the temptation to shove every bit of physical description about your characters into the first sentence you write about them. You can, and should, spread it out a bit. Important points you want to make about your character can get lost in a sea of description, and your writing can definitely be bogged down.

    And while we're on the subject of adjectives, I'll give you a quick rule of thumb to follow if you aren't sure whether to insert commas between adjectives. Basically, if you would say the word "and" between adjectives, you should insert a comma. For example, you would write "the fast, noisy car" but "the fast Ford truck."


    The Lovely Ellipsis

    The ellipsis—we've all seen it and most likely used it. This piece of punctuation is often abused in informal writing, such social networking and email. So what is the correct way to use it? There are several.

    First let's establish what an ellipsis is. The ellipsis is three periods, not five, seven, two, or eight. There is a method where a four-dot ellipsis can be used, but a four-dot ellipsis is simply a three-dot ellipsis preceded by a period. I commonly see writers throwing a multitude of periods after a sentence for various reasons,  but writers should not do this. Three periods is both sufficient and correct.

    The first way to use the ellipsis is most common in nonfiction writing. It is most commonly used to indicate that a portion of some quoted material is missing. For example, "God so loved . . . he gave his only begotten son" (John 3:16). The ellipsis in this quote indicates that part of the quote is missing. This use of the ellipse is pretty uncommon in fiction because other material is rarely quoted in fiction.

    You might notice that although John 3:16 continues after "only begotten son," I did not include an ellipsis after it. I also didn't start the quote with an ellipsis, even though the quote begins with the word "for." This is because Bible verses should not begin or end with ellipses unless the context demands it (e.g., it results in a sentence fragment). Also, introductory words, such as for, and, therefore, but, etc., can be omitted without inserting an ellipsis.

    The second case where ellipses should be used is more common in fiction writing. Ellipses should be used to indicate trailing off thought or speech. For example, "If only I could fly . . ." They should not be used to indicate that speech has been interrupted or to show an interjection or departure in thought. As discussed in this post, the em dash should be used for this.

    So how do you form an ellipsis? This can vary widely from publisher to publisher. Some publishers I have worked with prefer to use three spaced periods (. . .), while some prefer that authors use three unspaced periods (...) or Word's ellipsis character (…), which is formed by holding down ctrl+alt+the period. Some call for spaces before and after the ellipsis, while some prefer to have no spaces. The important thing, as always, is to pick one method and use it consistently. And of course, if you are still confused, a skilled editor can help you discern whether you're using ellipses correctly. Happy writing!


    Scare Quotes

    Punctuation marks of various kinds often trip writers up, and one area many seem to struggle with is when and how to use quotation marks.

    The rules for when to use quotation marks are fairly simple. You should always use them when you are directly quoting something and very sparingly in other cases. Many times I run into the overuse of "scare quotes" when editing. Scare quotes are basically when you put quotations around a word or phrase that is not quoted from another source to indicate that you find it ironic, don't agree with the common usage of it, or are distancing yourself from it in some way. This crops up frequently in religious or political writing.

    For example, a writer who is trying to debunk global warming might consistently use quotation marks around "global warming" to show his or her disdain for the concept. As you can imagine, this can get tiresome pretty quickly. Consider the following example:

    Modern scientists are trying to push the theory of "global warming" on people. There is no evidence for "global warming," but they promote the concept frequently anyway. This "warming" effect is negligible at best. We had a sixty-degree day where I live in the middle of July recently. Does that sound like "global warming" to you?*

    As you can see, the constant use of scare quotes gets to be very irritating. They most often have the effect of making the author seem pompous, pretentious, and condescending, which rarely helps to convince someone on the opposite side of your opinion. Try to be aware during your writing of whether you're using scare quotes too often and how those quotes may be interpreted by your readers. Although scare quotes can sometimes be used to get a point across, they should be used infrequently and with caution.

    * Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of Right Price Editing.


    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.*

    I'm still in a bit of a turkey coma today, as I'm sure many of you are, so today we'll keep it short and sweet. There are a number of phrases and words that I see authors commonly misusing, mixing up, or misspelling, some of which are more baffling to me than others. A few mix-ups I've run into lately include:

    • Versus and Verses. I run into this mistake all the time. "Versus" is commonly confused with "verses" and usually not the other way around. To clear things up for you there are verses in the Bible, and versus is used when you're talking about two things in opposition to each other (e.g., man versus bear).
    • Eachother.I must admit that this one baffles me. People often think that "eachother" should be an indefinite pronoun, like everyone or anybody, but it's not. It's always two separate words, each other.
    • Juggler and jugular. A juggler is someone who throws balls around. The jugular is an important vein in your neck. Unless your veins are more talented than most people's, jugular is the word you're looking for.
    • Table of Context. I must admit that I laughed to myself about this one. Although you might be hoping to provide some context with it, the part of the book that lists all your chapters and the pages they start on is the Table of Contents.
    • Forward and Foreword. This is something I see all the time. Forward is a direction. A short introduction written for a book by someone other than the author is a foreword. The word foreword is also commonly used to improperly label a book's preface, which is a short introduction written by the author.
    • Coach and couch.This mix-up caused one of the most unintentionally funny sentences I've read in a while: "I've been lying on the coach all day and it feels sooooo good!"

    This list doesn't even include some of the most common offenders (e.g., your and you're), but it just goes to show you that you can't depend on your spellchecker to do all the work for you. Read what you've written carefully, or better yet, get a skilled editor to help you find mistakes like these.

    *Ten points to anyone who can correctly identify the movie the title of this post is taken from.