This question comes from Chris Stevenson, who is a member of Morgan Mandel’s Book Place on ning. Book Place
Chris’s latest book is Gate Walker and it can be purchased here on Amazon.com If you'd like to know more about Chris and her latest book, visit her on her Web site
Question: I’ve just spent months going over tedious track-change editing from my publisher. We were allowed little or no adverb/ly words in our manuscript. My question is: Just how much of my unique voice/style did I lose with this very thorough edit? I’m known for being a pretty good stylist, so it concerned me a little.
Answer: Ah, the old “ly” debate. My initial response to your comment is that I am leery of editors who issue absolutes: You must remove all adverbs. You must remove all uses of “was.”
There are legitimate uses of both, and to strip a manuscript of them entirely is a mistake. The problem is that many new writers use adverbs and passive writing to an extreme and that is what can cause an editor to screech and throw down an edict.
That said, it is going to be hard for me to answer your question without knowing how extensive the edits were. If it was a matter of just getting rid of a few pesky adverbs, that should not alter the style significantly. A good editor will not mess with style, even if it goes against his or her preferences. For instance, I am not a huge fan of some common romance phraseology, but if I am editing a romance for a client, I do not ask her to change wordage I don’t like, unless it is a matter of craft.
It would also be helpful to know who the publisher is and the genre of the book. Some small publishers have some guidelines that are not industry or genre standards.
My suggestion is to talk to your editor about this, if it is something you really are concerned about. But before you do that, read through a section of the book now that it has been edited and see if you still feel the same way about it now as you did when you first wrote it. If so, the edits probably did not alter your style significantly.
Hope this helps and good luck with the book.
Posted by Maryann Miller, who believes that an editor's job is to edit, not rewrite the book. Visit Maryann's Web site for information about her editing services and her books. When she is not working, Maryann loves to play farmer on her little ranch in East Texas.