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Fresh writer seeks advice.

Noddy Sparks
Updated:

So I'm new. I've just started writing a story (last week infact) and am seeking any advice and tips from any writers with more experience.

I've written 6 chapters and got a bit gunghoe already having uploaded 5 chapters. I realised my mistake immediately after the 2nd chapter and got in contact with an editor when every feedback email had spellcheck written in somewhere.

After the 3rd chapter I discovered myself making small changes to earlier chapters. Although they don't affect the main story all that greatly my 1st 3 chapters have already got 3 revisions.

After having read through all the writers guides on the main writer upload page I've discovered I was blind and was but a frog in the well so to speak. (The hymen... how about that.)

So please guide me Sensei's. All your guidance would be greatly appreciated.

Regards,

Noddy.

Penguintopia

@Noddy,

I write the entire book before I start publishing, and ensure that it's been edited and proofread (that means finding an editor and one or two proofreaders).

I'm working on the fourteen book in the 'A Well-LIved Life' series now, and I've found that all those little changes are much easier to make before the story is uploaded. And banishing spelling and grammar errors has been a boon (the first book was published without being edited or proofread in advance, and I received feedback similar to what you are receiving).

Sensei Steve (you'll have to read AWLL to get the context!)

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Penguintopia


I write the entire book before I start publishing, and ensure that it's been edited and proofread (that means finding an editor and one or two proofreaders).


I do the same, and then break it into chunks of several thousands words to post at SoL, making sure the breaks are in appropriate spots, thus each post goes up or down a bit to do that.

Jay Cantrell

I fell into the same trap of posting before conclusion on my early stories.

Now, like the others above, I have the story fully written and edited before I begin to post.

I send chunks off to the proofers (I use at least two and sometimes three -- I make a lot of mistakes).

I always wait until I have 16-20 chapters on hand in case of a lag. A long interval between chapters will kill momentum and interest.

There is no harm in pulling your story to clean it up and reposting it when it is ready.

My primary advice is to sketch an outline. Know where the story is going (and how it ends) before anything else.

Know your characters and let them lead you.

Good luck,
Jay C.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

This is sounding like an echo chamber here (especially since many SOL writers tend to focus on per-chapter postings), but I too write the entire story before posting.

When I first considered posting (having long enjoyed the long running series on SOL), I started out focusing on the completed story over seeing 'how it works out'. Not only does it allow you to weed out errors, but your story ideas tend to get fleshed out during the writing process, and revising the entire story, based on what you learn from writing it, helps to flavor the earlier chapters as well.

I've also found (in a couple recent books) that feedback on an existing story often causes you to add additional chapters to flesh out the story and address weak issues. That's difficult to do once everyone has already read the book.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Trent C

My one story (over on FS) was "complete" when I first started posting, and I was going to post a chapter every other day thanks to the scheduled submission feature.

Well, the "complete" turned out to be "complete and utter crap" in retrospect. A reader reached out to me after the first 8 or so chapters and offered some sage advice based on a lifetime of editing experience. I wound up revising the story on the fly and was lucky that the finished product was much better than the original.

I'm (slowly) working on a second story and I think I'll follow the path suggested above. My editor has offered to work with me again, an offer I readily accepted since my self-editing is terrible. I'll write 5-10 chapters before I send them off to be edited, but won't post until the story's over.

If you can find an editor, I'd strongly recommend that; for me, self-editing was like trying to scratch my ear with my elbow: impossible. Also let your work sit for a bit, unread and untouched, while you work on the next chapters and then come back to it. You might be more successful in finding stuff you don't like.

Feedback is also a double-edged sword. It's nice to get and can be constructive, even when negative, but in the end it's your story.

Best of luck.

Ernest Bywater

@Trent C

It's nice to get and can be constructive, even when negative, but in the end it's your story.


Good advice for what the editors tell you, too.

Replies:   Trent C
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I've also found (in a couple recent books) that feedback on an existing story often causes you to add additional chapters to flesh out the story and address weak issues. That's difficult to do once everyone has already read the book.


It's impossible to do when no one has read the book yet. :)

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Trent C

@Ernest Bywater

Good advice for what the editors tell you, too.


My editor was kind enough to point that out also.

sejintenej

@Noddy Sparks

So I'm new. I've just started writing a story (last week infact) and am seeking any advice and tips from any writers with more experience.

So please guide me Sensei's. All your guidance would be greatly appreciated.


Hi, Noddy. You seem to have learned a lesson already but don't forget that everyone else has had to start just as you are doing.

You have had comments from "an editor" which sounds a good start. You and he/she need to understand each other because it is very difficult to see even all the typos in your own work.

Consider very carefully whether what you describe is actually possible; I am looking at a story about a virgin - the work shirt she is wearing gets damp and the MC can see the exact shade of her nipples. When she climbs on top she is facing him and suddenly this virgin is showing him her back without dismounting.
It is for that author to decide how much to change - at least I only found one possible spelling error in 5 chapters.

I don't see you on
http://storiesonline.net/author/reqEditView.php

though perhaps you looked at
http://storiesonline.net/author/volunteer_editors.php

Best of luck

REP
Updated:

@Noddy Sparks

Like many others, I finish my story before I post. An editor is invaluable.

The only thing I would add is, when you finish writing the story, proofread it at least twice and edit it, before you send it off to your editor.

It is also a good idea to do a final proofread before posting.

Crumbly Writer

@Trent C

My one story (over on FS) was "complete" when I first started posting, and I was going to post a chapter every other day thanks to the scheduled submission feature.

Well, the "complete" turned out to be "complete and utter crap" in retrospect. A reader reached out to me after the first 8 or so chapters and offered some sage advice based on a lifetime of editing experience. I wound up revising the story on the fly and was lucky that the finished product was much better than the original.

Trent, it sounds like you're already on the right track, but if you need story advice from another author, drop me a line. I may not be able to dedicate as much time to your story as a regular (proofreading) editor, as another author, I can focus on story issues, plot holes, how to flesh out the story, and how to patch lapses in the story.

For Noddy, that's another important aspect to writing. It's always good to build resources. Along with decent editors (and you really need separate proofreaders, beta-readers and content editors), it's also good to have fellow authors you can turn to when you run into difficulties.

When I first started, another author who wrote along similar lines and I got together and we'd bounce story ideas off each other--mainly supplying each other with 'problematic' chapters to get their take on it. The experience helped us both. This forum is a good source for information, but it's not the same as having someone to turn to when something just 'isn't working' in a specific story.

Fellow authors are more concerned with story issues than English usage. These items consist of story pacing, story development, story discovery, research, character development and backstory, all topics most editors aren't equipped to deal with.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

It's impossible to do when no one has read the book yet. :)

Hopefully, your editors will be truthful enough to warn you when something just isn't working. Beyond that, that's why authors rely on beta-readers, to warn us when a story causes unexpected negative responses which need to be addressed. Just because a story hasn't been posted/published doesn't mean it hasn't been read!

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@REP

The only thing I would add is, when you finish writing the story, proofread it at least twice and edit it, before you send it off to your editor.

Also note, there's a BIG difference between proofreading (checking for typos) and revising (changing a story to make the entire story more consistent from beginning to end). By the time you reach the end of a story, often the story premise has changed considerably from when you first began, as you learn about the characters and the situations.

Rewriting is difficult, because each time I try to rewrite a chapter from scratch, I find the story going in an entirely different direction, so revisions are necessary in those circumstances. The revision phase is also a good time to address issues like pacing, story and character development, and foreshadowing (so the readers aren't completely surprised by a surprise ending).

Replies:   REP
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Beyond that, that's why authors rely on beta-readers


Not all of us have easy access to potential beta-readers.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Not all of us have easy access to potential beta-readers.

Many authors over the years have relied on relatives (spouses and girlfriends, in particular). Asking readers who regularly comment on stories is another decent source. The key, though, is trust. Beta-readers need to be painfully honest. Family members will often pull their punches.

One of my regular beta-readers is my 86-year-old mother. Although she's not overly fond of sex scenes, if I know I've got an issue with a book, I'll watch her as she reads my stories, noting where she's at anytime she puts the book down to determine anything she might not want to tell me explicitly (i.e. "This part sucks rotten chickens!").

Giving a select group of readers the opportunity to have an impact on your stories is a powerful incentive.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Many authors over the years have relied on relatives (spouses and girlfriends, in particular).


You mostly write no or minimal sex sorties with nothing particularly out there. I couldn't share my stories with my family if I wanted to.

Replies:   REP  Crumbly Writer
REP

@Dominions Son

Just a suggestion. If you get reader feedback from someone who displays a sincere interest in helping improve the story, you have a potential beta-reader. Just ask if they are interested.

REP

@Crumbly Writer

True. For me, proofreading is about checking the flow of the story and making sure my transitions between scenes are clear, and the speaker in dialog is evident. I correct any typos and grammatical error in the process, but that is not my focus. To me editing is checking for typos, proper word selection and usage, sentence structure, etc. I usually do that from the bottom up, one paragraph at a time.

Replies:   richardshagrin
Switch Blayde

@Noddy Sparks

All your guidance would be greatly appreciated.


I finish the story before posting a single chapter. One time I had to go back and make a minor character more important because I changed the ending and needed him in the new ending. Sometimes I give up on a story and never post it. That's why none of my stories are incomplete.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
StarFleetCarl

I'm probably the oddball here. My story is NOT completely written before I started postingg it. But ... at the same time, it was, since mine is fan fiction based upon a video game. What I did make sure and do, though, is get both a good chapter buffer built up before I started posting, and I try to only post once per week, not the whole thing.

My chapter editing process is pretty simple. First, spell check. Then I go through the chapter to catch glaring errors in word usage, and reword things that don't make a lot of sense. (I probably shouldn't write my first draft when it's late at night and I'm drinking, but that's part of the joy of it.) Then I have a co-worker who is my first reader go through the chapter, to make sure it's consistent with the universe (video game, remember?) AND to see what he can catch for errors. And finally, I go through the chapter backwards. I start at the end of the chapter, read each paragraph, and work my way up. I've caught more errors that way than any other.

You'll find that different ways work better for you than others. Having another set of eyes look at your work before you post it can't hurt. One thing I've noticed in other things I've written is that even if you plot things out, your story may not end up where you think it will. That's not just something that happens to us novices - David Weber mentioned that in his Honorverse novels, his original story plotline sort of didn't end up happening, as his characters ended up doing things he hadn't figured originally.

The most important thing about writing is simple, though. Keep writing.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Noddy Sparks

So please guide me Sensei's.


Now for a tip. Before you begin writing the story, know the following up front:

1. the main characters and their relationships.

2. the plot's conflict (what the protagonist wants/needs and what's in the way (antagonist)).

3. the inciting incident (what sets the conflict in motion).

4. the plot's climax (conflict resolution). If you know the ending you won't wander or get lost while writing.

richardshagrin

@REP

No criticism intended, and I may be wrong. It happens a lot. But my understanding of proof-reading is looking for misspelled words, homonym problems, missing or wrong punctuation, other issues involving grammar and sentence design (like hanging phrases or wrong pronoun selection when one person is referred to as them).

Editing is much closer to story design and execution, are there holes in the story, are characters and their dialog consistent, are characters too young to have sex and other issues where the author made choices about the story the editor thinks can be improved.

Replies:   Switch Blayde  REP
Switch Blayde

@richardshagrin


Editing is much closer to story design and execution, are there holes in the story, are characters and their dialog consistent, are characters too young to have sex and other issues where the author made choices about the story the editor thinks can be improved.


That's a Developmental Editor (also called a Structural Editor).

I'm going to get the terminology wrong so I won't name the other two, but they are:

1. checks for typos and such.

2. checks sentence structure, phrasing, word choice, etc.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

You mostly write no or minimal sex sorties with nothing particularly out there. I couldn't share my stories with my family if I wanted to.

My 86-year-old mother was never fond of the incest scenes in my 6 book Catalyst series, but read the entire thing anyway, which I always figured was a testament in itself. But she was the one who alerted me to the problems with Cate being unpopular with many readers. However, in her case, she's not always completely honest with me, so I've got to figure out what she's thinking by watching as she reads the story. Not a simple process.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Sometimes I give up on a story and never post it. That's why none of my stories are incomplete.

I rarely abandon stories, though I have 'unpublished' stories which weren't well received. Usually what happens is I'll get a story idea, develop it, but never get around to writing it. If I start and encounter story problems, I'll usually put it aside until I figure out what the underlying story issue is, and then rework the story so it works out.

Over the years, I've shelved many books which I eventually end up publishing. Hell, I shelved my first story ("The Catalyst") for months, started rewriting the entire thing from scratch, then went back and revised the original before I could get it to work. Another revision (expanding it from 4 books to 6) finally settled things.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@StarFleetCarl

The most important thing about writing is simple, though. Keep writing.

One important element, always work towards the ending. That generally means knowing how the story is supposed to end, and weaving the story so all the elements coalesce by the end. As StarFleetCarl suggests, each story takes on a life of its own, which is good for the creative process. But you want to ensure each change in the story gets incorporated so the story reads smoothly by the ending.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

If I start and encounter story problems, I'll usually put it aside until I figure out what the underlying story issue is, and then rework the story so it works out.


Sometimes I lose interest in a story so I abandon it. Sometimes I don't think readers will enjoy it so I abandon it. Sometimes I get bored with the characters so I abandon it.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Switch Blayde

Sometimes I lose interest in a story so I abandon it. Sometimes I don't think readers will enjoy it so I abandon it. Sometimes I get bored with the characters so I abandon it.

You write with great abandon.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Noddy Sparks

Welcome, Noddy.

You've done the two most important things for someone just starting: you've asked the right people for help, and you've started reading writing guides such as those on the site.

I therefore feel forgiving towards you in making this suggestion - please be even less gung-ho and spellcheck the posts you make here. :-)

You'll find readers and editors here are very willing to help, but they do like to see you doing the best you can. Think of it as you showing respect to readers and editors before you ask for their help.

You would really struggle to find a more ruthless and pedantic bunch of arseholes than the editors here - but they DO mean well. They have to enjoy being ruthless and pedantic (at least a bit) to do that job well. They need to be passionate about getting your story as good as possible. Ask yourself, "Why should they get passionate about getting my story as good as possible if they see I'm not doing the best I can?"

The same goes for the readers here too. The ones who bother to send feedback to authors are mostly very knowledgeable about what makes good fiction. Both groups will be very helpful if they see the same mistakes being made consistently (you just don't know yet), but less so if they see random errors.

I would suggest to someone just starting (I started only about 6 months ago) you must sometimes be cautious of advice here from the most experienced writers. Their comments are usually spot on, but sometimes only appropriate for those with a basic degree of competence. It seems some have forgotten the struggles they must have gone through to reach that level.

One example I found was an insistence by most on stating that all good writers should at times be breaking just about every rule/guideline/suggestion about grammar, punctuation, and style. That is VERY TRUE. Fiction does become stilted if an author slavishly attempts to obey all the rules. An author of fiction NEEDS to feel free to break any rules to create a whole range of artistic effects.

I would stress you should such rules reasonably well before you start breaking them. It's more important to establish trust among your readers that you know what you're doing first.

A recent example from my writing was a character saying "fundamentalist christians". I know, and most readers will know, that the rules state a capital C is required. If I have established trust with readers, they will see that and assume the "mistake" was intentional - and then conclude it's there because the character is showing their contempt for that group. Without that trust readers will assume I made a mistake.

These things do get very complicated and tricky with situations that occur very rarely, but it's not particularly difficult to learn the basics and to start getting those right consistently. Doing that will at least earn you the good will of readers and editors. They'll want to help someone they can see is trying and they will be constructive when explaining the occasional more subtle types of errors you make.

I strongly disagree with the first few posts by experienced writers here who all state they finish writing their stories before beginning to post. I suggest you follow their example for every other story you write, but post your first story as you are writing it. I won't scream at you, "but only after an editor has reviewed it." You've learned that one already. :-)

I suggest this so you can learn as much as possible about writing from readers while you are writing your first story.

To be blunt, if you've become a good writer in a few years time, you'll blush at all your rookie errors when you re-read this first story. The errors will be more missed opportunities than mistakes. Probably less so if you complete it all first, but you simply cannot expect your first effort to be good. If that is so, why not learn as much as possible from the experience of writing it. Your first story should end up worse, but your next story should be better this way.

That advice is NOT meant to suggest you do not do your very best to get the first story as good as you possibly can. If you want to become a very good writer you should already be agonising obsessively over the wording of every little email you write and every post you make here.

You could already start thinking that in a few years time you might revisit the idea of your first story and rewrite it from scratch. That idea is probably very dear to your heart: you felt strongly enough about it to commit a lot of time and effort into producing something you are proud enough of to want to show to others.

My final tip is to take time to enjoy the process. It should be fun, not feel like work. Make sure you sometimes read your story without looking for things to fix, but simply to savour the beauty and craft of your creation.

Replies:   Lugh  Crumbly Writer
Lugh

@Ross at Play

Ross, what are your feelings about revising and reposting established stories? What announcements should one make?

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Lugh

I have few feelings or thoughts about that. Others here have relevant experience about what works best - for readers.

I asked Lazeez once about possibly posting a second version of a story which had been substantially rewritten after a new editor had reviewed it.

His response was he would need to be convinced of the benefit to readers, enough to overcome annoyances to readers from lost place markers etc.

(Adding to the post I just made) The site usually refuses requests for entire stories to be deleted until two years after they are first posted. The authors agree to that when they submit their stories. If this new author wanted to post a completely rewritten version they should probably delete the old when it's older than two years, post the new version as if it was new, and as a courtesy to readers post a blog entry advising readers they could email a request if they wanted a copy of the old version.

Switch Blayde

@Noddy Sparks

So please guide me Sensei's.


Another tip. Start out with short stories. You'll finish them and gain the confidence that you can finish a story.

Ross at Play

@Jay Cantrell

My primary advice is to sketch an outline. Know where the story is going (and how it ends) before anything else.

Know your characters and let them lead you.

Noddy,
My main post was mainly addressing issues of getting your language right. That's about the stage I've reached.
This advice from Jay Cantrell is about as good as you could get in so few words about the far more important aspects of character and plot.
It could be added that "let (your characters) lead you" implies "how (the story) ends" may not be how you originally envisioned it. You should still know where you're planning to go, so you can adjust when your characters respond in ways you had not anticipated, after you as the author pose dilemmas with them by your plot.
***
I would suggest it's never too early to start recording snippets of dialogue you "hear" in your head when imagining scenes from later in the story. You want to know your characters and but they should grow as the story progresses. It's different with their "voice" or speech mannerisms. You want those to remain quite stable throughout. That's why recording their dialogue from future scenes even before starting to write the story will help. It will help you know their voice even as you begin writing the first chapters.

Replies:   sejintenej
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

One example I found was an insistence by most on stating that all good writers should at times be breaking just about every rule/guideline/suggestion about grammar, punctuation, and style.

I would stress you should such rules reasonably well before you start breaking them. It's more important to establish trust among your readers that you know what you're doing first.

Ross's advice is apt. You shouldn't try to 'break rules' your first time out. Instead, stick to the basics and don't try 'new styles of writing' before you understand what works, what doesn't, and why. It's fine to try new things, but you need to understand the risks inherent in flouting standards, and if you've never written anything, you really don't have much basis to evaluate those standards.

Instead, focus on the basic story elements. As Switch stated, you want to focus on developing your characters, establishing the central conflict and (my own addition) figuring out what message your story is trying to convey, as this will define how you present your story.

Ross at Play

@REP

It is also a good idea to do a final proofread before posting.

I think it's more than a good idea, it's essential.
I find I introduce more typos and grammatical errors while revising writing than in my initial drafts.
With initial drafts I'm focusing on writing complete sentences that express my idea and are clear and grammatically correct.
When revising I'm often so focused on improving a word or the phrasing it is very easy to overlook when I create some sort of mismatch elsewhere in the sentence.

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

That's a Developmental Editor (also called a Structural Editor).
I'm going to get the terminology wrong so I won't name the other two, but they are:
1. checks for typos and such.
2. checks sentence structure, phrasing, word choice, etc.

I was about to post an answer describing the same distinctions. I think of #1 as looking for errors to fix in bad writing, and #2 as looking for potential improvements to make the writing good.
Some posts by CW just before yours listed the things that the highest level of editor can do. They are also called content editors too.
***
Good content editors are very rare, and their skills are very much in demand. They are so much in demand that my policy is to not ask for their help until the writer and editor have resolved most of the language issues - leaving only the story-telling issues that require their specialist skills.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Good content editors are very rare, and their skills are very much in demand. They are so much in demand that my policy is to not ask for their help until the writer and editor have resolved most of the language issues - leaving only the story-telling issues that require their specialist skills.

Unfortunately, Structural (Content) editors also address plot holes, and thus often require a rewrite of a significant portion of any given story, meaning all that work 'cleaning up the story' before submitting it to the Content editor is essentially pointless.

That's why many (content editors) recommend bringing them in BEFORE you write the entire story, but that's largely impractical, not to mention prohibitively expensive. However, it would probably be better to send your completed first draft of a story for them to review, so that you can clear up any potential issue during the review process (with the understanding they'll rip your frequent typos and unclear passages apart).

There are a few Structural editors on SOL, though they often do a mix of proofreading and content. Most editors are equipped to do each type of editing, but authors generally contract them to do one or the other, not all three.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
REP

@richardshagrin

No criticism intended, and I may be wrong.


Not a problem. I appreciate constructive criticism. It is a good idea to standardize these types of definitions so everyone is on the same page.

During my time as a technical writer, we used the definitions that I defined above. Basically, editing was to fix grammatical errors to include typos. Proofreading was to make sure the document contain what was needed and presented the information in a suitable format.

I will go with either set of definitions. What definitions do the rest of you want to use?

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

That's why many (content editors) recommend bringing them in BEFORE you write the entire story, but that's largely impractical,


I know one Structural Editor who works off the synopsis. Since some authors do detail planning before writing, they write the synopsis before writing the story.

Switch Blayde

@REP

What definitions do the rest of you want to use?


Why not use the industry standard for fiction?

Copy Editor
What everyone here is calling a proofreader. Checks for spelling errors, grammar errors, punctuation errors.

Line Editor
Points out passive voice, wordiness, overused words, too many sentences starting the same way, etc.

Developmental Editor
Point of view errors, unbelievable characters, plot holes, too much telling, inconsistent character behavior, info dumps, etc. They look at the big picture

Replies:   REP
sejintenej

@Ross at Play

I would suggest it's never too early to start recording snippets of dialogue you "hear" in your head when imagining scenes from later in the story. You want to know your characters and but they should grow as the story progresses. It's different with their "voice" or speech mannerisms. You want those to remain quite stable throughout. That's why recording their dialogue from future scenes even before starting to write the story will help. It will help you know their voice even as you begin writing the first chapters

To pad that advice out remember that your cell / mobile / portable phone can record speech whenever and wherever you are. It might be some text to use, it could be the germ of an idea for the next story.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@sejintenej

To pad that advice out remember that your cell / mobile / portable phone can record speech whenever and wherever you are. It might be some text to use, it could be the germ of an idea for the next story.


That is a legally dangerous idea at least in the US. Recording a conversation to which you are not a party is considered wiretapping and is a criminal act.

Even if you are a party to a conversation, you have to be careful. While recording with only the consent of one party is legal in most states, some states (California for example) requires that you have the consent of all parties to the conversation before recording it is legal.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Dominions Son


That is a legally dangerous idea at least in the US.


So what I suspected is true ... the Mind Police already exist!?

***

You came in a bit late on the exchange and misinterpreted what Sejintenej was suggesting.

I made a suggestion for writers when still in the planning stages of a new novel. If they are imagining a critical scene somewhere in the novel and they "hear" an exchange of dialogue in their head, they should rapidly type the words they have imagined to record them. Doing so will help the writer become familiar with and develop distinctive "voices" for their characters even before they begin to write the novel. It's then more likely the writer will know the distinctive features of their characters' voices early on, and they can make the voices consistent through the entire novel. It is important that your characters to change/grow emotionally through a novel, but the way they speak to be quite consistent.

Sejintenej suggested if you are on the move somewhere when you imagine some future scene - just whip out your modern phone and speak instead of type the words you are imagining.

***

If that is legally dangerous then the Mind Police truly are here already. :-)

How will an author be able to prove they obtained consent to record conversations from characters the author is creating, and only exist at that time inside their head? Are characters in novels able to file complaints with police that any crimes they committed were under duress - and the author "made me do it"?

REP

@Switch Blayde

What do view as the function of a proofreader?

Ross at Play

@REP

What do view as the function of a proofreader?

Publishers use "copy editor" for what we call a proofreader.
They use "line editor" for the type of edits I do (although I object on the grounds I work over entire paragraphs).
They use "developmental editor" for someone who does the things that only CW and a few others here can do well.

Replies:   bondsman
tendres

Welcome Noddy!

You're ahead of me in the process, I am still working on my first story, but I am on the glide path. Like a demanding mistress, it keeps me up late and leaves me bleary eyed the next day.

Based on the ratio of editor feedback to content, I am going to be quite a while before I post here. :) I found folks here are friendly and give their advice freely.

Tendres

P.S. your name reminds me of a joke about why elephants have big ears...

bondsman

@Ross at Play

I urge the use of "copy editor" versus "proof reader". The term proof reader comes from the newspaper/book printing world. The proof readers function was to ensure that the first copy off the press (the "proof" copy) matched the final manuscript (be it a book or news paper). Essentially they were looking for errors made in type setting. I don't know if they were expected or encouraged to even mention errors they might see in the manuscript used to set the type.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@REP

What do view as the function of a proofreader?


Proof readers are the last ones to check it out. They check to see if there are any errors before it goes to publication. They're the final eyes.

I don't really know much about proof reading.

ETA: I like bondsman's definition.

Crumbly Writer

The term "proofreader" caught on simply because they do the final "proof" of the story, the final review of the story for any outstanding typographical/name errors. No one has worried about typesetting for a long, long time.

Replies:   REP  bondsman
REP

@Crumbly Writer

they do the final "proof" of the story


What do you see a proof reader doing in proofing our stories? Would it be just a check for consistency, or would they do something else.

Crumbly Writer

@REP

What do you see a proof reader doing in proofing our stories? Would it be just a check for consistency, or would they do something else.

A "proof" is just what it sounds like. They're looking for obvious mistakes. The types of things that leap off the page, like typos, incorrect grammar or punctuation, incorrect character names, etc. It's a more or less superficial overview for things otherwise missed (not to belittle the effort, but it's not an 'indepth' examination of the story based on content and context).

Ross at Play
Updated:

@REP


What do you see a proof reader doing in proofing our stories?


It's almost entirely spotting mistakes where authors know what is correct - but they could not see because their brain corrected what the eyes saw into what it knew should have been there.

Ideally, the last person to read something before it is published will have never seen it before.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Ideally, the last person to read something before it is published will have never seen it before.

Typically, I'll do a final review (after all the editors are finished with it) just before I publish, and again as I post each chapter here. I'll often make several last-minute changes, but not enough to warrant having my editors reexamine the entire document. (It's a recipe for disaster, but so far, it hasn't bitten me too bad. However, with my current book, I'm making more changes than I normally do.)

Switch Blayde

You write a novel and have different people edit it. Now it's perfect so you run it through Calibre to create the ebook. It's the proofreader who compares the output of Calibre to the manuscript to make sure everything turned out right.

It's an editor people here talk about.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

It's an editor people here talk about.

We're discussing two different uses of the same phrase. The original term referred to someone who's explicit job was to check the final copy of a printed document to ensure the printing press didn't screw up the copy. However, over time the meaning shifted, as it often does, to include ANY review of copy to ensure no errors exist before printing, publishing or posting.

Dictionary.com defines it as: "to read (printers' proofs, copy, etc.) in order to detect and mark errors to be corrected.

Note: "Printer's proofs", is only a single thing that proofreaders review, it's not the only one!

That said, the term 'proofreader' is actually a common-reference for a 'copy editor'. The two jobs are essentially the same. The only difference is that it's more common among those outside of the printing industry (i.e. doesn't work for an established publishing house).

It's easier to review the different types of editors, and when they're typically used (i.e. under what contexts): Different types of editors (from thehelpfulwriter.com), which explicitly lists "proofreader" as a distinct type of editor!

Note: Sorry if I misinterpreted your reply, Switch, but it sounded like you're arguing that a proofreader isn't an editor.

bondsman

@Crumbly Writer

The term "proofreader" caught on simply because they do the final "proof" of the story, the final review of the story for any outstanding typographical/name errors. No one has worried about typesetting for a long, long time.


That was my point.

Crumbly Writer

I know, I was arguing Switch's counterargument.

REP

I tried to follow this thread and the different points of view regarding the differences between editing and proof reading. It seems to me that the general consensus is that there are three terms used in regard to people who provide feedback to a writer before the story is posted.

1) Beta Reader – a person who reviews a story, edited or unedited, and provides feedback to the author regarding the plot, scenes, characters, etc. The function is often performed in parallel with the story's development or just after the writer has completed the story. Most likely before it is submitted for editing.

2) Editor – a person who reviews a story for the purpose of identifying and correcting any and all types of errors, to include but not limited to:

• Typos
• Misused words
• Punctuation errors
• Sentence structure problems
• Consistency of names, titles, terms, etc.
• Plot problems

3) Proof Reader – an editor who performs a final review of a story to identify any remaining errors that may have been overlooked during prior reviews. The comments are provided to the writer, who may perform further review of the story/chapters before submitting the story/chapters for posting.

I don't know about everyone else, but I doubt I will ever use a Beta Reader, so personally, I'll just drop that term. Proof Reader sounds like it is an archaic term for a function no longer performed, and it is currently being used to mean the same thing as Editor. I think I will just stay with Editor and editing and not worry about the other two terms.

Replies:   docholladay
Ernest Bywater

From my perspective I use three editorial services from those who assist me in this way. One is during the initial writing of the story while the other two are after the story is completed.

1. Story development editor or expert advisor. This person assist with the development of the story while it's being written. I know some people who use such help a lot me than I do. However, the common use I make of this is when I've got a story that heavily involves something I'm not familiar with or can research to the level I'm happy with it.

The classic example of this is Play Ball where I had a story development editor to assist me with the baseball scenes because he's an expert on the game as a player and an umpire. I'd come up with an idea for a play and write it. I'd send it to him and he'd write back saying what wasn't possible within the rules and what wasn't likely to occur during a game. I'd rewrite the scene and we'd repeat this process until we're both happy with a scene that delivers the plot or character aspects I want from the scene and he's happy the play can happen that way in real life. Then we move on to the next baseball play scene.

This type of editorial advice is also provided in the next stage.

2. General editor. This person looks for plot holes, spelling errors, grammatical errors, and continuity errors. They also provide some advice on ways to improve the plot of character development. They also let me know if there's an obvious issue with pacing or story flow in any way.

After I get this feedback I'll fix all reported issues, and will also often revise some aspects of the story and this stage may repeat.

3. Proofing editor. This person looks for only spelling and grammatical errors, but will also report any obvious errors of any other type.
..........................

That's how the original story version comes about. Once it's up on SoL I find out how many errors we all missed, and when the readers have had a few weeks to report the ones we missed I revise the story to fix those error. During this phase I'll often reword bits here and there to improve the story flow. Then it's back through the last two types of editors again. A final review by me, and if I make any more changes at this point it's back to a proofing editor before being reposted.

I have 4 different editors I let have a sneak preview of the stories, and each finds different errors. I usually send the story to one, fix his errors, then to the next and so on. But even when is end it to them all at once I'll have things reported by one and not another- go figure. However, the one I pass the story through last is more of a proofing editor than anything else, and will often see the story more often than the others will.

docholladay
Updated:

@REP


3) Proof Reader – an editor who performs a final review of a story to identify any remaining errors that may have been overlooked during prior reviews.


I may be wrong but I believe errors can be created at any stage in the procedure. That is why even Ernest or CW get feedback about errors after posting on SOL and now the daughter(sounds better) sites. Not to mention even professional editors can miss things at times. Hopefully the majority of the feedback pointing errors out is done to help not tear a writer's work apart.

edited to add: When I find mistakes I try and quote the entire sentence or paragraph to make it easier to find the right spot. Then mention what I think was wrong. Sometimes I will even try and offer a simple fix if I see one.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater  REP
richardshagrin

Once in a while a reviewer will indicate something the author may want to fix. It may depend on how nicely he phrases his discovery of the possible error. It may not be a bug, it might be a feature.

Ernest Bywater

@docholladay


I may be wrong but I believe errors can be created at any stage in the procedure.


Often the way to fix a reported issue with a sentence or paragraph is solved by cutting and pasting part of the text within the story, say move the front have of the sentence to the back of it, etc; or to change a couple of words later in the paragraph. In either case you can end up with error by either not cutting cleanly in the first case and by not doing a proper continuity check in the second place. Many errors can occur when making a change, and they can easily be over looked by the next editor, thus it's noted when a reader reports it.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


Many errors can occur when making a change, and they can easily be over looked by the next editor, thus it's noted when a reader reports it.


That is my experience too. I've mentioned in this thread I often introduce more typos and grammatical errors when editing something already written than when I am writing my first drafts. When editing I tend to focus on part of a sentence, but while drafting I am thinking about writing complete sentences.

***

It just occurred to me that a solution for the type of problem you mentioned might be to turn Record Changes on for your master copy when going through one editor's suggestions, and return that to them to check your edits. Once they give you the all clear, save your master copy with Record Changes off and repeat the process with the next editor.

StarFleetCarl

@Ernest Bywater

move the front have of the sentence


And that's why we have someone else read what we write first ... (also why I hate using a tablet with auto-fill)

half ... :)

Replies:   Ernest Bywater  REP
Ernest Bywater

@StarFleetCarl

And that's why we have someone else read what we write first ...


and demonstrates what happens when you post without having it edited - if I had a dollar for every time I've mistyped certain words I'd be the riches man in the world. The big ones are (error/right word): sue/use - ti/it - fro/for - teh/the - out/our - - most are due to an issue with one hand working faster than the other, and most of the rest are simply hitting the key beside the one I want, with the last set of errors on original typing being my finger typing away while my mind is in the middle of the next sentence and the fingers wander off to where they think they should be or are used to being.

Replies:   Ross at Play
docholladay

Point is errors can happen at any point in the process. The major factors are in how they are pointed out. How the errors are fixed or corrected. Although sometimes I have gotten a laugh out of those mistakes depending on when and how they occur in a story. So maybe the laugh creating errors are not so bad.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


if I had a dollar for every time I've mistyped certain words I'd be the riches (ka-ching!) man in the world.

REP

@docholladay

True, and I provide feedback in a similar manner. Although in one case that I remember all I said was 'too many errors to list', and suggested an editor.

Replies:   docholladay
REP
Updated:

@StarFleetCarl


And that's why we have someone else read what we write first


Yeah, if we had editors checking our Forum posts, we would overwork them and nothing would get posted. :)

docholladay

@REP

The feedback form is a quick email form for the writer so it does have limitations. However I like to try and encourage the writer at the same time. I try to also state how I enjoyed the story even with the errors.

Replies:   REP
REP

@docholladay

Agreed.

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