Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ask the Editor - Part Two

The daily grind of an editor can sometimes leave us ready to snarl at a butterfly and kick our mother-in-law. That's when we need a bit of humor to lighten up our mood. Stepping up to help us out are the wacky editors behind the editing advice book, Write More Good .

Wait. Did I say wacky? That is so not PC, and I need to change that. Let's see what they suggest in the section on Politically Correct terminology. Hmmm. Nothing. Although they do have the definition of  wingnuts, "Genetically modified legumes capable of independent flight, though they tend to stay together in impenetrable groups close to the ground."

 That has absolutely nothing to do with this post, but it was a relief to find out it is okay to use the term wacky when referring to the authors of the book.

Write More Good, which is guaranteed to get you fired if you use it,  evolved from a Twitter phenomenon @fakeapstylebook and was published by Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House. When I first reviewed the book for a post here at the Blood Red Pencil, I got this idea to invite these wacky editors to do a take-off on our more serious Ask The Editor series developed by Morgan Mandel. Our regular readers are well-acquainted with this popular feature, but new visitors may want a quick briefing. Readers leave a question in the comments and the editors here at the BRP stop in throughout the day to answer them.

Today, we have invited those responsible for Write More Good to answer the questions. You, the readers, may ask serious questions if you dare, but I have no guarantee you will get a serious answer.

So let the nonsense begin....



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You can catch the Bureau Chiefs on Facebook and Twitter.

Posted by Maryann Miller who is a big fan of the book and has it on her desk along with Strunk and White as a handy reference guide.

Maryann Miller is an author and freelance editor. Her latest book is Open Season, which has gotten nice reviews from Library Journal and Publisher's Weekly. One Small Victory, is a top seller in the mystery bestseller list at the Amazon Kindle store. Visit her Web site for information about her books and her editing services. If you have a good book, she can help you make it better. She will stop playing with her horse and work, honest.
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37 comments:

  1. Dear Bureau Chiefs: As a developmental editor, I sometimes work with hopeful writers willing to revise their first drafts all of one time before sending their still-rough work to me. They believe I can then make it "right." Although I love the faith in me implied by this act, I am running out of kind and creative ways to tell them that authoring fiction might take a tad more work. Any ideas?

    ReplyDelete
  2. As a writer as well as a teacher who has taught creative writing, expository writing and technical writing at the university and also worked as a high school English teacher, I've had to edit and correct many pieces of writing over the years. It causes me to value hard-working editors. I greatly appreciate their input when applied to my work. No one's work is perfect. It's great to have another set of eyes critically examine one's work.

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  3. All aspiring fiction authors do not need to spend time revising first drafts if they are following the correct religious practices:

    1) Setting up a shrine to either Stephen King or Nora Roberts in a corner of their house.
    2) Engaging in small animal sacrifices every other day.
    3) Painting themselves puce and praying to the copy editing gods.

    If the writer fails to observe these practices and continues in sending you error-ridden manuscripts, simply leave the manuscript on your doorstep overnight with a bowl of milk. Editing elves will do the rest.

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  4. @Jacqueline: We agree about having another set of eyes to help out. We have jars full of them.

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  5. Dear Bureau Chiefs, are those eyes you keep in the jars the ones that you "roll" in narrative?

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  6. @Maryann: Fun fact! In the future, writers will say that they "hovered" their eyes.

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  7. Haha--thanks chiefs! Now that I know the secrets I'll perform the rituals for my own novel while making my clients revise, yet again. Although I've never looked my best in puce...

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  8. Dear Bureau Chiefs: I am a technical writer and often have to edit grant proposals by university faculty members. How do I refrain from banging my head against my keyboard for the 482nd time someone with a Ph.D. misuses its/it's or their/there/they're?!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Dear Fake AP Stylebook,

    Oxford recently asserted their stance on the serial comma, deciding that a series of three things needs only one comma (e.g., this, that and the other). What's your stance on this?

    ReplyDelete
  10. @Ang:

    That's never going to stop, so a coma or concussion is your best choice.

    In the meantime, exact revenge by referring to them as "Mister" or "Missus" instead of "Doctor."

    ReplyDelete
  11. Dear Editors,

    At what point does it become more effective to edit pieces into LOL Cat speak?

    Also, can you please address the etiquette surrounding the use of multiple punctuation marks??? Just how many is too many??? Thanks so much!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Dear Editors,

    My writing students consider spelling and punctuation to be open to creative interpretation. This makes it difficult at times for me to understand what they mean well enough to help them improve their skills. What should I do?

    ReplyDelete
  13. @Brian: As we're sure you know,,, we prefer the DeVry Comma.

    @jesterqueen1: Editing pieces into LOL Cat speak should only be done when your periodical's target audience is people who have been in comas since 2008.

    Use as many punctuation marks as you want, but just remember that there are only so many of them installed in your keyboard and once they're gone, they're gone.

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  14. @Kelly: Find a History Teacher on your next train ride. Criss Cross.

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  15. I'm kind of bitter at the quality of messages I have to send out for the University where I work. I've taken to carefully edit for people earlier than deadline, send it as is for at deadline, and drink heavily before editing for those who are late. I'm a bit worried about my liver, especially after I started moving people down a category for doctorate level education. Do you have any less self-destructive suggestions for punishing bad writing on rush jobs?

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  16. I have some serious problems writing dialog that doesn't sound elementary. For the most part I'm a decent writer, but when it comes to dialog all of my creative juices go out the window. It becomes "Well hello" so and so said..."hi" such and such replied. Any ideas as to how to spice up writing dialog?

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  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  18. Jill: The problem here isn't your dialogue but your approach. Take a walk and listen to how real people actually talk. It is even more boring than your dialogue. Recast yourself as a "naturalistic" writer of the Mamet school and BAM! Money trains.

    Also, have you considered writing about wizards? A wizard can be all "hey what's up" and the kids will just eat that crap up.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Dear Bureau Chiefs,
    Why are editors so against words like just and was,and why do they hate adverbs so much?

    Morgan Mandel
    http://www.morganmandel.com
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  20. @Morgan: They don't hate "just," "was" or adverbs. They hate redundancy. Cut out unnecessary words by using their adverbial forms, such as "justly" and "wasly."

    ReplyDelete
  21. Dear Editor:

    If smash means to crush beyond all recognition, why did you tell me that when you are done with my manuscript, it will be a smash hit?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Just preparing you for the inevitable disappointment that is to come your way, Milt.

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  23. When editing a non-fiction manuscript that contains occasional excerpts from a diary by someone who has since died, should you correct grammar and spelling or leave as-is?

    She who never kept a diary for this specific reason.

    ReplyDelete
  24. @Helen: Don't just correct grammar errors--go nuts and make even bigger changes! Look what it did for Anne Frank!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I'm a firm believer that the time of day effects how well someone writes. I myself find my best work comes in the morning soon after I wake up. Do you find this to be true as well? Furthermore, Is there a way that I can be more productive at night?

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  26. I hired an editor and found she's making changes to the ms that make no sense. An example: She'll change one of the original sentences to make it more verbose, swap out a well-thought-out metaphor for a cliche, and add redundancies. All in one sentence!

    I feel like I made a horrible mistake hiring her, but now she's 2/3 done wit the manuscript. I feel like, at best, I'm getting 40% of my money's worth.

    Should I fire her and start all over again (even though I have no more money to hire someone new)? Or should I grin and bear it, and just plan on doing another hearty editorial pass myself?

    ReplyDelete
  27. @Alejandro: We work best in that time between checking our Twitter page and checking our Facebook page.

    As to how to work better at night, we suggest being either a vampire, Batman, or possibly a Vampire Batman. Consult the academic text BATMAN: RED RAIN for more information.

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  28. @Allie: You seem to be under the mistaken impression that an editor can be wrong. An editor cannot be wrong. Perhaps your manuscript just really isn't that good? Did you ever consider that? "The fault lies with thee" and with that, good day ma'am. I said good day!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Dear Bureau Chiefs: My client wants to send out a letter that says, "As a valued customer, we want to offer you a discount on your next purchase." How would you correct this grammatical error?

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  30. @MJ: We would change the text to "Please come back. We are so lonely."

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  31. Why are there so many soap opera vampires these days?

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  32. @isaac: Vampires are predators, and predators prey on the weak and ailing; soap opera fans are therefore natural targets.

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  33. Dear Bureau Chiefs. How do you know when you have spent too much time promoting and not enough time writing and editing?

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  34. @Maryann: What are you trying to say?!

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  35. Guys, what I'm trying to say is why the heck am I checking this blog and not writing?

    ReplyDelete
  36. Is it better to use purple or yellow crayons when submitting a manuscript written on paper bags?

    ReplyDelete

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