Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Getting On An Editor's Good Side

September is "Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month." I'm not sure Hallmark has a card for that one, so what can you do?
 
I don't think I've ever been unkind to my editors or fellow writers, but I have been working diligently on my current WIP in order to turn it in to my editor on time. I know she's got a schedule to keep, and if I'm late, the domino effect can make her life miserable. I also owe it to her to turn in the cleanest possible manuscript, and that means not simply hitting send immediately after writing The End.

What I do after I type The End is save the document in a different font. I type in Times New Roman, which is more or less industry standard. TNR is a serif font (has the little squiggles on the edges of the letters). My eyes have been staring at that font for months as I work on the manuscript, so I'll choose a sans serif font for my final printout. Two good examples are Arial and Calibri.

Next, I change  the format to two columns. I narrow the margins and reduce the font to a readable, yet small enough size to conserve paper. I'll print it out on both sides of the page, again to conserve paper. My goal is to be reading the manuscript like a book, because although I don't want to have my editor deal with typos and technical errors, I'm more concerned in not turning in something with glaring plot holes or continuity errors that will end up requiring major revisions. Those are the time-killers.


I mark the manuscript using my trusty red pen (I don't have any negative feelings about red—my teachers back in the day used red for good comments, too!). Although I want to read the story I'll circle repeated words and other technical issues. If there's something that looks like a plot or continuity problem, I'll make a note in the margin or attach a sticky. I also keep a notepad handy for jotting down things I'll need to search the manuscript for later.


I try to read about five chapters at a sitting. Enough to remember what the story's about, but not so much that I get caught up in the story and forget that I'm supposed to be editing.

Once I finish, I go back to the original manuscript on the computer and deal with my edits and revisions. Since I'm a firm believer in editing as I write, for this process, I started with what I'd hoped was a relatively clean document and can usually have the official draft ready to send to my editor in less than a week.

As for being nice to writers—author Nancy Cohen blogged about that not long ago, and she's summed it up perfectly. I hope you'll all pop over there to see what you can do to support them. 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Terry Odell is the author of the popular Pine Hills Police Series and the Blackthorne, Inc. Series. You can find out more about them, as well as her stand-alone romantic suspense novels HERE.  Her newest release, Nowhere to Hide, can be found here.  You can find her at her Web site. If you've followed her blog (or want to start!), note that it's moved and is now HERE. You can follow her on Twitter, or visit her Facebook page.

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16 comments :

  1. This post is exactly what I needed. I am doing a revision and wasn't honestly sure how to approach it.

    Thanks!
    Jodi

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  2. All excellent advice! I hadn't thought of using a different font and layout, but it makes perfect sense. Gonna do!

    Marian Allen
    Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

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  3. Jodi - hope it works for you the way it does for me. I'm about 10 chapters from the end of my read-through of my manuscript. This final pass is the only time I don't stop and fix everything as I find it. Once I get to the end, then I'll go back and take care of all my markups and sticky notes.

    Terry
    Terry's Place

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  4. Marian - I think you'll find it 'fools' your brain so you'll catch more glitches.


    Terry
    Terry's Place

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  5. Great suggestion, Terry! As an editor, I'm always grateful when I receive a really clean manuscript -- which isn't very often.

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  6. Linda, I think the days are LONG gone when an editor was more of the author's "partner" and it was understood that the editor would "fix" everything, from plot issues to punctuation. If you turn in something like that today, it's an immediate rejection. And for freelance editors who base fees on an hourly rate, you're asking for a hefty bill.

    Terry
    Terry's Place

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  7. Good points, Terry, and thank again for bringing us some helpful tips here at The Blood Red Pencil.

    I like how you approach the second draft by reading all the way through and making notes for things that have to be fixed. With my latest work, I made the mistake of starting the read-through, making some changes, getting pulled away from it, and then having to start over. THis time, I am going to take a day to just read from beginning to end and make notes. Thanks for that tip.

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  8. I just corrected the errors in the post - don't hate me too much for it! LOL.

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  9. Terry, this is such powerful advice! If only everyone took such pains with their work. I charge by the page, not by the hour—but the more I'm distracted by surface issues, the less effective I can be at analyzing deeper story problems.

    The more a writer strive to do their very best, the more and editor can help—and the better writer they'll be.

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  10. Yes, the tips are excellent, Terry! I'm guessing this will become part of our annual Best Posts of the Year in December.

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  11. Yay for edit-as-you-write! I'm growing weary of the "separate hats" crew telling me to forge ahead when I know I've got stuff to fix.

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  12. Maryann-- good for you if you can work through the entire MS in a day. I normally take 4-5 days because if I do too much, I'm reading the story and forgetting to look for edits.

    Dani - I'm never opposed to someone finding my mistakes and fixing them. That's why I pay an editor! And glad you found the post worthwhile.

    Kathryn - Distractions of any kind slow the process, and can reduce the quality of the end-product.

    Adrian - you have to do what works. Not stopping to fix doesn't work for me, although others prefer to plow through. Go for it!

    Terry
    Terry's Place


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  13. I also change fonts between edits. It's very effective. Cursive fonts are good, too (for short stories - it might be a bit heavy-going for a novel). A fancy font makes the edit fun, but it also slows you down and makes you read more carefully. I prefer to write and edit in a sans serif font, and do a read-through with serifs.

    I edit on screen until the very last draft, which, at that stage, should have very few errors. It's really more my copy to keep than a tool for editing.

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  14. Elle - thanks for sharing your methods. I print out each scene as I finish it and read it in a "non-work" environment (usually in bed, where I do my pleasure reading). That give me a good jumping off point for starting the next day's writing. And looking at what I've got for this manuscript, I think it's clean--we'll just have to wait to see what my editor thinks!

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  15. Terry, I think I can do this WIP in one day as it is shorter than most of my other books. (smile)

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  16. Maryann--ok -- My WIP is about 101,000 words, so the 'one day' kind of freaked me out!

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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