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Try an editor!

Rondam44

In the last month or so, I have read at least six blogs on the home page in which the writer has thanked his readers for sending in corrections. One even thanked a reader for suggested revisions which he proceeded to incorporate into the story. Can anyone think of any reason why an author wouldn't use an editor instead of relying on his readers to make corrections to his story? Personally, I'd be embarrassed to post a story if it still needed corrections. For god's sake, get an editor.

Ernest Bywater

@Rondam44

Can anyone think of any reason why an author wouldn't use an editor instead of relying on his readers to make corrections to his story?


Lack of experience and knowledge on the details of how writing works!

Switch Blayde

@Rondam44

Can anyone think of any reason why an author wouldn't use an editor instead of relying on his readers to make corrections to his story? Personally, I'd be embarrassed to post a story if it still needed corrections. For god's sake, get an editor.


I've been posting stories since April, 2000. Hundreds of them. I can count on one hand the number of times a reader notified me of an error.

Dominions Son

@Rondam44

Can anyone think of any reason why an author wouldn't use an editor instead of relying on his readers to make corrections to his story? Personally, I'd be embarrassed to post a story if it still needed corrections. For god's sake, get an editor.


Most of us are reliant on volunteer editors who only do basic proofreading.

You get what you pay for, sometimes mistakes get past the editor. Particularly when it's a continuity error not a spelling or grammar error.

Replies:   red61544
red61544

@Dominions Son

But when it comes back from the editor, don't you read through it again? I know things can slip through but when the story has been edited, proofed and then reread by the author, the slips should be few and far between. Pride in authorship should prevent an author from having his readers as his final proofreader.

Crumbly Writer

I've got to say, even though I use several amateur editors (proofreaders, technically), I frequently have reader corrections. Not only that, but often I'll get very specific details that aren't widely available via Google which then lead to new story developments (usually in subsequent stories or sequels).

Just today, I added a whole new chapter based on information my sister sent me regarding a conversation she had about an area I hadn't heard of before (complications following near-death experiences (NDE)). She wasn't a reader, but why turn your nose up at suggestions.

Switch, if you've never had a reader correction, you're either a genius, an editor survant, or you aren't connecting to your readers. I always comment that I'm eager for feedback, and my readers regularly come through for me.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Switch, if you've never had a reader correction, you're either a genius, an editor survant, or you aren't connecting to your readers. I always comment that I'm eager for feedback, and my readers regularly come through for me.


As I said, I've had a few over the years. But only a handful in hundreds of stories. I get a lot of feedback, but not editing type errors. I'm always editing and am good at it.

Now I do get the other kinds of feedback, but they don't change the story since the story is finished before I post the first chapter. So readers can't guide my story. My response is usually something like, "That's the story I wrote."

In "Satan's Son," a reader told me I rushed the ending. He was right, but I didn't go back and change it. I learned from the feedback for my next story. In "Matilda and the Assassin," a reader told me cops don't outline a body. I researched it and they were right, but I left it. If it's good enough for Hollywood, it's good enough for me to have something for effect even if it's not done in real life. However, in "New Society, New Rules," a reader told me jets are made out of aluminum, not steel (would be too heavy). For that one, I did go back and change it.

(btw, I edited this post 5 or 6 times. I do make errors. I just edit like crazy.)

Replies:   Zom  Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@red61544

But when it comes back from the editor, don't you read through it again?


Not necessarily completely. I use word processing software (open office) and we use a change tracking function for managing edits.

Zom

@Switch Blayde

not editing type errors

Should probably be 'not editing typing errors' :-) You would need a Linotype to correct a type error.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Zom

Should probably be 'not editing typing errors' :-) You would need a Linotype to correct a type error.


I meant "editing type" (the adjective modifying the noun "errors"). Maybe I should have hyphenated it. I was referring to different types of feedback -- finding typos and such (editing type) and other (more about the story).

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@Switch Blayde

Maybe I should have hyphenated it

Indeed. Dictionaries show the adjective form as '-type'. Interesting how a little dash can change the meaning of three words ...

Chris Podhola

@Rondam44

In the last month or so, I have read at least six blogs on the home page in which the writer has thanked his readers for sending in corrections. One even thanked a reader for suggested revisions which he proceeded to incorporate into the story. Can anyone think of any reason why an author wouldn't use an editor instead of relying on his readers to make corrections to his story? Personally, I'd be embarrassed to post a story if it still needed corrections. For god's sake, get an editor.


I can think of a couple of very good reasons not to hire an editor. (Keep in mind that, despite this opinion, I think editing is extremely important).

1. You recognize that you are an amateur writer and that you are writing simply because you enjoy it.

When I first started writing and posting stories onto public servers, I had no clue what I was doing. I simply wrote because I wanted to. I wrote for myself and that was it. I put my stories on the server just to see if other people would like them too. I had no idea how to edit and even though my grammar was better than most, it was far from perfect. I saw writing as fun and editing as work. Because I already averaged sixty plus hours of working every week, I had no ambition to turn my past time into a job. Writing was something I just did for the hell of it, so I placed no importance into grammatical quality, and I had no idea what it took to improve plot, flow, character development, dialog or any other facet of storytelling.

I don't think there is anything wrong with this approach (necessarily). If an author does this, he should be prepared to be confronted by the grammar police, but if he recognizes this and isn't offended by it, it really isn't a big deal.

And even if an author does this, it doesn't make him an idiot. It simply means he/she has a hobby. He/she is offering something to his fellow man and expects nothing in return for it. It doesn't make them a bad person or an idiot.

Typically, you will find that story ideas are more important to readers than grammar. I know many of you will argue, "Not me! If I begin a story that contains grammatical flaws, I close the story." I won't argue with what you will or won't do. What I will say is that many readers won't. In my early days I wrote many stories that were far from grammatical perfection and a number of these stories scored pretty well with readers.

2. I think an author should become an expert editor. The best way to do that is to edit themselves. This doesn't necessarily mean they shouldn't hire, or accept the services of a free editor, but they should have a rigorous editing process themselves and their editor shouldn't see it until after a piece has been edited with at least five or six passes before being sent out for further editing.

docholladay

@red61544

Writers and editors are only human. And all humans make mistakes. Even published authors have had errors in the final printed versions. Some were simply words sounding the same but different spellings and meanings. I even remember one time when a good character was called by the evil character's name in the last chapter. Just happened one time, but still an error. Kind of thing which is easily missed by editors among others.

The advantage and disadvantage for writers online is they will probably be told of all those little errors by their fans. Some you will fix.

Argon

Dear Rondam,

I believe Chris nailed it. Within limits, most readers will prefer a well told story over a well edited one. An original plot, realistic dialogue, and appealing characters are far more important for their enjoyment than a missing comma or apostrophe.

I also agree that authors should take note of the feedback from editors and readers (it is a crowd intelligence after all), and use it to improve their own editing skills. Saddling volunteer editors with sloppy drafts will make them miss the more subtle errors, e.g. time line, continuity, even homophones. Of course, new authors do not have that feedback yet.

What Chris did not mention is the challenge to find a compatible editor who can improve your writing without trying to change it into his/her own style. That also takes a few trials and errors.

Regards
Argon

Replies:   Zom  Switch Blayde
Zom

@Argon

most readers will prefer a well told story over a well edited one

Well said. And very true. But it is even better when one does not need to choose.

richardshagrin
Updated:

If you try an editor, who will pay the lawyer and court costs? Settle out of court if you can.

Switch Blayde

@Argon

most readers will prefer a well told story over a well edited one.


True, but...

Did you ever watch a movie you really like? Great story. Great acting. But your TV reception isn't good and you see a lot of snow and squiggly lines. Are you still enjoying the movie? My guess is, after you get a headache you'll turn it off.

Replies:   Chris Podhola  Invid Fan
Chris Podhola

@Switch Blayde

True, but...

Did you ever watch a movie you really like? Great story. Great acting. But your TV reception isn't good and you see a lot of snow and squiggly lines. Are you still enjoying the movie? My guess is, after you get a headache you'll turn it off.


If you take it to the extreme, sure. If the grammar is so bad and the writing is filled with so many spelling and homophone errors that reading it becomes a nightmare, than your point is valid. Most people probably will, but is that really what we're talking about here? Are the authors in question such hicks that the entire piece is written in one long paragraph without any punctuation at all? Are we talking about nearly indecipherable text?

Probably not. Most likely we're talking about text that has some errors and is probably annoying at times, but is legible and as long as the story is good under these conditions, most people won't close it. If they like the story they will most likely finish it and will most likely vote on it based on how the story made them feel.

But I can't tell you how many times I've read grammatically correct stories by amateur or near amateur authors whose prose is so generic and their dialog is so mundane, that I can't even get far enough into it to see if they ever get around to telling a good story. I get so bored within the first five pages reading the cliche openings and humdrum approach that I can't click on the little x at the top right of the screen fast enough.

I'd much rather suffer a few grammatical annoyances in an intriguing story, than not have those annoyances, but can't find a character I like either.

Replies:   Wheezer  Switch Blayde  Zom
Invid Fan

@Switch Blayde

Did you ever watch a movie you really like? Great story. Great acting. But your TV reception isn't good and you see a lot of snow and squiggly lines. Are you still enjoying the movie? My guess is, after you get a headache you'll turn it off.


I grew up in the days of UHF, getting channels that were always snowy. You got used to it. You kids, with your perfect picture and sound quality...

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist

@Invid Fan

Getting channels? There was only one channel in the UK until 1955 when ITV started, and the next one didn't come until 1964.
You middle aged fogeys, with a choice of entertainment........
Funny thing is, the quality of the program was better, even if the reception was worse.

Replies:   Zom
Wheezer

@Chris Podhola

For me, either can be a reason for me to abandon a story quickly. Bad grammar and homophone hell will do it quickly. Bad enough and the story quality does not matter. I've also ran across plenty of technically correct stories that were so stiff and stilted, or just plain boring that I gave up within a few chapters.

Zom
Updated:

@ustourist


the quality of the program was better,


Perhaps not. That sounds like The Good Old Days complex. Watch a few of them again. With precious few exceptions they are all poor quality in production, script and acting. The only thing that sometimes makes them feel good is nostalgia. Would you believe ...

Replies:   awnlee jawking  invidian
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


As I said, I've had a few over the years. But only a handful in hundreds of stories. I get a lot of feedback, but not editing type errors. I'm always editing and am good at it.

Switch, that's the key. If you convey that you're not receptive to feedback (corrections and suggestions), the readers learn to shut up. I only get as many suggestions/corrections as I do because I make it plain to my readers that I'm interested in improving my books, even after they've been published.

2. I think an author should become an expert editor. The best way to do that is to edit themselves. This doesn't necessarily mean they shouldn't hire, or accept the services of a free editor, but they should have a rigorous editing process themselves and their editor shouldn't see it until after a piece has been edited with at least five or six passes before being sent out for further editing.


Chris, my problem is that while I'm good at cleaning up my text, I'm terrible at cutting extraneous text, and my proofreaders refuse to slice and dice my words, not wanting to put words in my mouth. I've been struggling learning how to edit properly over the years, and I've picked up a lot of tricks, but a decent editor can cut through the meaningless dribble many of us unintentionally drop into our stories. It's also why I decided to fork over some major cash (2 months of a professional editor's time to edit a single book) for an example of what a professional does to my writing, just to see what I need to change.

I believe Chris nailed it. Within limits, most readers will prefer a well told story over a well edited one. An original plot, realistic dialogue, and appealing characters are far more important for their enjoyment than a missing comma or apostrophe.


Argon, I've long maintained that the story is the key. It's got to be decent, or no one will read it, no matter how well written it is, and if a story is captivating, readers will forgive nearly anything. The key, though, is that editing is a matter of professional pride in one's work. If an author doesn't care about their work, then why should a reader? It's a red flag that you're dealing with an amateur who's uninterested in growing as an author.

For me, either can be a reason for me to abandon a story quickly. Bad grammar and homophone hell will do it quickly. Bad enough and the story quality does not matter. I've also ran across plenty of technically correct stories that were so stiff and stilted, or just plain boring that I gave up within a few chapters.


Wheezer, if you have enough books to read, then you can be picky what you read. However, if you're looking for free literature, or something that will keep you busy, a chapter or two a week, for the next year, then you put up with a lot more. There are comprises we make every day. If you want perfection, stick with the traditionally published best-sellers. If you want to see what's new, take a chance and see what the new people in the field are trying out.

Grant

@Crumbly Writer

and if a story is captivating, readers will forgive nearly anything.

The problem is that if the errors are frequent enough, then I can't get in to the story.
The odd mistake isn't an issue, but when the wrong word is used, repeatedly, and there are other typos and errors it's just not worth the effort to read, no matter how good the story itself might actually be.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Grant

The problem is that if the errors are frequent enough, then I can't get in to the story.
The odd mistake isn't an issue, but when the wrong word is used, repeatedly, and there are other typos and errors it's just not worth the effort to read, no matter how good the story itself might actually be.

I agree. Like Chris, I'm assuming the work isn't terrible, just not cleaned excessively. But again, seeing several errors per page is like seeing spelling errors in the story description. If the author doesn't care what his flagship work reads like, why bother with the work at all?

An author's brand is his quality--both story and writing. Any writer will write a stinker, and we often have no clue which stories will work and which will fail. But what keeps us in the running is the quality of our work. If readers can depend on us to produce quality, they'll return even if they hate our latest book.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Switch, that's the key. If you convey that you're not receptive to feedback (corrections and suggestions), the readers learn to shut up


Where did you get that from what I said? I always ask for feedback and ALWAYS respond and thank the reader. Always!

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Chris Podhola


If you take it to the extreme, sure. If the grammar is so bad and the writing is filled with so many spelling and homophone errors that reading it becomes a nightmare, than your point is valid.


I wasn't only talking about grammar issues. I was talking about constructing a good story so that it is exciting to read.

Using movies again, how many times has a director screwed up a great story? Under his direction, it becomes a story hard to follow or simply boring because of the way he presents it? That's what I'm talking about. You can really have a great story, but if you write boring prose and dialogue then the great story is ruined. So it's not only having a great story, it's also writing it well.

This is where I end up arguing with many in this group. There are ways to craft a story that make it exciting to read and engages the reader. Someone else could take that great story and bore the reader to death.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Zom

@Chris Podhola

that reading it becomes a nightmare, than your point is valid

Genuinely, is the 'than' quoted a typo, or is it intentional?

As a proofer I run across 'than' being used instead of 'then' in that context VERY frequently. So far I have not been able to determine if it is always a typo (unlikely) or if there is some dialect usage used by many writers that makes 'than' acceptable to them.

The references I have available to me all tell me that in the quoted context 'then' is always correct.

This is a learned gathering, so I thought I would put it out there ...

Switch Blayde

@Zom

So far I have not been able to determine if it is always a typo (unlikely) or if there is some dialect usage used by many writers that makes 'than' acceptable to them.


It's always a grammar error. It's a very common error, too.

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@Switch Blayde

It's a very common error, too

Indeed it is. It is easily the most common wrong word error I see, and by a big margin. So much so that I was wondering if I was somehow out of step.

Switch Blayde

@Zom

As I've said in the past, Grammar Girl is my grammar expert. Here's what she has to say on then vs than:

http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/then-versus-than

Replies:   Zom
awnlee jawking

@Zom

I'm nostalgic for the days when Dr Who was a drama, rather than a soap opera/comedy.

AJ

Replies:   Zom
awnlee jawking

@Zom


Indeed it is. It is easily the most common wrong word error I see, and by a big margin. So much so that I was wondering if I was somehow out of step.


Strange, I can't recall seeing that error in any stories I've proofread. I wonder if that's because I've missed any occurrences, or because the authors whose work I chose to proofread set a high standard to begin with.

AJ

Replies:   Zom  sejintenej
Zom
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


I wonder if that's because I've missed any occurrences, or because the authors whose work I chose to proofread set a high standard to begin with.


Wow. I hate to say it, but it might be the former. I regularly correct it in work from generally high quality authors, even when already processed by well regarded editors. Maybe partly because it easily passes text to speech detection. I'm sure it's not my imagination ... I think.

Zom

@awnlee jawking

I'm nostalgic for the days when Dr Who was a drama

Amen.

Zom

@Switch Blayde

Grammar Girl is my grammar expert

One of the more useful resources. 'She' says what they all say, and what I understand to be correct. I am glad you all agree. Doubt was beginning to creep in.

Chris Podhola
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Chris, my problem is that while I'm good at cleaning up my text, I'm terrible at cutting extraneous text, and my proofreaders refuse to slice and dice my words, not wanting to put words in my mouth. I've been struggling learning how to edit properly over the years, and I've picked up a lot of tricks, but a decent editor can cut through the meaningless dribble many of us unintentionally drop into our stories. It's also why I decided to fork over some major cash (2 months of a professional editor's time to edit a single book) for an example of what a professional does to my writing, just to see what I need to change.


Well, you've mentioned that before and I'm curious to see how it goes. If you don't mind sharing the results of that when they come it, I would love to see what he does.

My approach has been different. I have gobbled up books on different aspects of writing instructions, including everything from plotting, structure, dialog, setting, descriptions, character building, world building etc. Cramming these theories and knowledge from other authors into my brain (I still feel like I have a long way to go) has helped me. I find that when I write my rough drafts, I still go about it the same way. I simply drift through the story and write down what I see without questioning anything. Then, when I start editing, I make passes through the manuscript with different aspects in mind. I will make a pass thinking about plot, a pass thinking about character definition, a pass thinking about dialog, etc. The final pass is about grammar etc.

I have went back into older stories that I have written and changed as much as thirty percent of the word count using the additional knowledge I've gained over the past couple of years.

Chris Podhola

@Zom

Genuinely, is the 'than' quoted a typo, or is it intentional?


It's a mistake. I don't claim to be perfect. Far from it.

Replies:   Zom
invidian

@Zom


the quality of the program was better,

Perhaps not. That sounds like The Good Old Days complex. Watch a few of them again. With precious few exceptions they are all poor quality in production, script and acting. The only thing that sometimes makes them feel good is nostalgia. Would you believe ...


That's the thing: you can't re-watch them. The BBC after the war was sort of a jobs program, and structured the royalties so it was cheaper to make a new show than replay an old one. Since the old episodes were useless, unless they were sold overseas, they were tossed out. Something you only saw once as a kid is naturally better than what you're watching now as an adult.

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist

@invidian

It was also a situation that with only one or two channels the companies could pick the cream of what was available and had a pool of affordable actors.
Now with hundreds of channels anyone and anything can get airtime. Production quality may have improved. Acting and scriptwriting is something I would dispute. "reality" shows are scripted, but do not demonstrate quality writing or acting in my opinion.
It is the same with writing. Publishers made mistakes, but generally it would have been the better quality that saw the light of day. Online publishing is so easy that almost illiterate books are now no longer a rarity.
So some nostalgia for older TV, but the pure volume of current production almost inevitably results in reduced standards across the board

Chris Podhola

@Switch Blayde

Using movies again, how many times has a director screwed up a great story? Under his direction, it becomes a story hard to follow or simply boring because of the way he presents it? That's what I'm talking about. You can really have a great story, but if you write boring prose and dialogue then the great story is ruined. So it's not only having a great story, it's also writing it well.

This is where I end up arguing with many in this group. There are ways to craft a story that make it exciting to read and engages the reader. Someone else could take that great story and bore the reader to death.


Stating it this way makes more sense to me.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


Where did you get that from what I said? I always ask for feedback and ALWAYS respond and thank the reader. Always!


I wasn't saying that you don't respond to feedback, but that you don't respond to corrections and suggestions (I qualified the type of feedback you don't respond to). Readers pick up on these things, and if they perceive you won't change an existing story, they stop suggesting corrections.

I take a different approach, and encourage corrections and am eager to tinker with my books until they reach the point I'm tempted to rewrite the entire thing. That's the point I have to wash my hands of a book, and that's typically a couple years after I first publish/post it. You tend to walk away from changes to your books as soon as they're published. That's not a criticism, merely pointing out the differences in our styles.

As a proofer I run across 'than' being used instead of 'then' in that context VERY frequently. So far I have not been able to determine if it is always a typo (unlikely) or if there is some dialect usage used by many writers that makes 'than' acceptable to them.


Zom, I think it's clear, in this case at least, that it was a typo. They are easy words to miss, and even many editors bypass them (which is why I use several editors, because the likelihood of catching typos increases with more eyes searching for them).

People read what they expect to see, rather than what's on the page. That's why authors need proofreaders, and why proofreaders often miss many errors themselves. In the 'bad old days' of traditional publishers, they'd employ a whole team or professional editors. Nowadays, each author is on their own to hire whoever they can afford, and if you don't earn a sizable income for each book, you tend to avoid hiring professionals. The results are predictable.

Strange, I can't recall seeing that error in any stories I've proofread. I wonder if that's because I've missed any occurrences, or because the authors whose work I chose to proofread set a high standard to begin with.

Awnlee, those are homonym errors, which are notorious hard to spot, and typically require a separate review searching for those errors specifically. They tend to not be spotted on a typical editing or proofreading review, unless the editor trips over them.

You aren't overreacting. It's a serious issue with all authors, but it's also one of the harder issues to catch (in their entirety).

Zom, Switch, I've always admired Grammar Girl, but I hate her audios. You get maybe three sentences of advice along with 5 to 10 minutes of ads. I gave up on following her after listening to that crap for too long. Her website is decent, but I can't listen to her podcasts for the life of me!

Well, you've mentioned that before and I'm curious to see how it goes. If you don't mind sharing the results of that when they come it, I would love to see what he does.

Chris, as usual, I'll be glad to share my results. I often dive into new territories in an effort to determine just how valuable they are, so I approach it as an experiment and report the results to other writers so they can evaluate whether it's valuable or not (see my discussions about goodreads, book giveaways, book pricing research, etc.)

However, I ran his sample revisions (from a couple years ago) past my editors, and since the content of the story didn't change, they couldn't spot any difference (though he cut about 20% from the story by combining my similar statements). So I'm not sure how much you'll pick up from viewing the before and after results.

If you want a great book on writing techniques, try "Dialogue for Writers, Create Powerful Dialogue in Fiction and Nonfiction" by Sammie Justesen. This is one area where I excel, and I found it a delight to read as it tells you how to focus on the highlights of dialogue, rather than catch-all advice for all aspects of writing.

We should probably start a series of discussions about different techniques, and which we've each found useful and which we haven't, and why.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Zom

@Chris Podhola

I don't claim to be perfect

Thanks for the clarification. For safety, I tend to claim to be imperfect. I am correct more often that way :-)

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

I wasn't saying that you don't respond to feedback, but that you don't respond to corrections and suggestions (I qualified the type of feedback you don't respond to). Readers pick up on these things, and if they perceive you won't change an existing story, they stop suggesting corrections.


Crumbly,

I always fix a typo when a reader notifies me of one. It's just it hasn't happened much.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I always fix a typo when a reader notifies me of one. It's just it hasn't happened much.

This is becoming such an ego-driven discussion, I feel a challenge coming on. Maybe we should make it a contest. You (Switch), Chris and someone not a self-declared editing expert (say Ernest, who hasn't even weighed in) each submit a 1,000 word sample and request a sample edit from the same editors, and we award a prize to the one with the fewest red marks? (Of course, that's likely to be the one who hit the editor on an off-day, rather than who's actually the best writer.)

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

Here again, you misconstrue a few different things. First, when I use the term 'expert editor' I speak to what is my personal goal for myself (I write with my writer's hat on and I edit with my editor's cap), as a self editor. It isn't that I believe I AM an expert, but I do aspire to constantly improve my skills in all aspects of writing.

Next, I still believe that you are confusing the different levels of editing. When I say an author should strive to become a better editor, I am not talking about copy editing, for that is a matter of grammar, spelling, homophones, etc. An author can easily get by allowing quality volunteers to copy edit. This isn't such a big deal. Developmental editing is an entirely different matter and developmental editing is what I am good at. You have said yourself that you haven't been able to find anyone in the pool of volunteers who are capable of making substantial changes to your manuscripts. This isn't surprising because it takes the skill of a skilled author to make such changes. Therefore, I don't see how it is possible to find a qualified judge to compare editing among author participants who claim that they are skilled editors. Editing and proofreading are two very different things.

Crumbly Writer

OK, the results are in. I got my manuscript back from the editor, and I must say, the results are striking! In case you want to view the difference, here they are:

- Before
- After
- tracked changes

She cut 25,000 words out of an 87,000 word document, which is just shy of 30%. The result is a much smoother read and a more powerful experience. However, on the flip side, she cut a lot of what I loved in the story. Most of the wonderful characters: Gone! (I was interjecting head-hopping to explain their motivations.) Clever turns of phrase: also gone. (they're 'uncommon speech, which breaks the rhythm and flow of the story). It's also almost entirely "he said"/"she said". As the editor said, she cut a lot of tell and unnecessary showing!

I'm now working my way through the story. I'm currently at chapter four. Just as she suggested, I'm working from her finished version, modifying select phrasing. Her changes are spot on, though I'm not crazy about much of her phrasing (she tends to begin sentences with "But" when there's no contrasting elements), but the stuff she cut deserved it.

I'm now stuck on chapter 3, as I need to cut a major story thread, and I'm trying to figure out how to do it. My other editors/proofreaders also flagged it, but since the entire story hinges on the story line, I was avoiding it.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

OK, the results are in


The question is, what did you learn? Will you be making the same mistakes on your next story?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

I'm sorry, but I'm far from impressed. Some of the changes look badly thought out, eg his attacker lifted the sword and ... bring it down on Adrian's shoulder. I noticed some basic punctuation errors too.

AJ

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

Long have I fought making a comment in response to the title of this thread, and I finally lost. So here it is:

I once wanted to try an editor, but my lawyer said it was better to just not pay him for his incompetence than go to court.

edit to fix typo of and for an - one of my most common mistakes.

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@Ernest Bywater

I once wanted to try and editor, but my lawyer said it was better to just not pay him for his incompetence than go to court.

Big :-)

Zen Master

@Crumbly Writer

CW,
Thanks for sharing that with us. I am NOT impressed with the before/after. Sure, you never use one word when seven will do, but that's part of your style. Some people like that.
Okay, your editor probably had reasons for everything he/she/it did, but some of those reasons don't make much sense to me. I agree that "wielding a large bowie knife" makes far more sense than your original "yielded a different weapon, a machete", but then the following paragraph is all about being hacked to death, and hacking is a machete function. A Bowie knife is good for fighting, whether another human or an animal, and it's acceptable for a lot of different knife jobs, but it's a stabbing, slicing, and blocking tool. Bowies don't hack very well. Anyone who has ever wielded the two tools would know this difference. When the story is about hacking why change from machete to Bowie? The conclusion that the editor has never actually picked up a machete or Bowie knife is inescapable. The editor had the chance to simply swap verbs from yield to wield, and decided to change nouns too without knowing what those nouns meant.
From that the general rule follows that "the editor makes changes from ignorance", and that calls into question every other change made.....
This wasn't an honest mistake. The editor KNEW that you had chosen a particular noun, and had NO REASON to change to a different noun. I would be pretty annoyed, if this happened to my work.

ustourist

@Crumbly Writer

I acknowledge this is only my opinion as a reader, so has limited use when related to editing, but the intent is readability.

I only read the first page or so of the prologue, and while I agree with a few of the alterations, the deletion of descriptions totally changes the character of the writing. Your style may be a little verbose, but that IS your style and you effectively build background that way. The alterations remove that element and dehumanize it a bit.
PS: Since the action took place in New York, why refer to the macaroon as a biscuit, surely it would be a cookie there? That makes me doubt the veracity of the editing.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Actually, I've learned a lot (like which things not to try). I've also learned that a straightforward narrative is stronger than delving into multiple topics (always a weak point for me). I've always like going off topic on tangents (like this sentence). However, there's a lot which will take me some time to incorporate into my writing. As I said, I now know when to avoid a new sub-thread in dialogue, but I'm still not sure how to combine the various sentences together.

Awnlee, I agree about her use of language. That's why I've reviewing it line by line, as she doesn't always pick the strongest or the most accurate terms.

Ernest, sorry to jump on minor details, but "I once wanted to try and editor" is the very reason we need editors!

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Dominions Son
Updated:

@ustourist


PS: Since the action took place in New York, why refer to the macaroon as a biscuit, surely it would be a cookie there? That makes me doubt the veracity of the editing.


All that makes me think is that the editor is English and doesn't understand American English. Which is in itself a good reason for an American writer to not use that editor.

Edited to add: Come to think of it, that the editor is English could also explain not knowing the difference between a machete and a Bowie knife or the difference in how the two weapons are used.

Replies:   Zen Master
Zen Master

@Dominions Son

Very good point. However, "Being English" is not a valid explanation for changing a tool when there is more than one version of that tool and the author may well have chosen one version for a reason.
If I'm writing an action yarn and I talk about whipping out my trusty Glock 9mm while rolling in the dirt and shooting the bad guy, and my editor changes that to whipping out my trusty Enfield .303 and shooting the bad guy, I don't consider those to be equivalent. If you don't know guns well enough to recognize that one is a compact pistol and one is a very long rifle, DON'T FUCKING CHANGE SHIT!
In this case, there was a paragraph about hacking. In the immediately previous paragraph, the author specified a tool I own two of, that I use for hacking the underbrush out of my way in the jungle. I also own several fighting and hunting knives but I don't hack with them. They are for fighting with. If you don't know the difference, why did you change from one to the other? The change shows a cavalier disregard for the author's opinions, knowledge, and work.
And, just because I love to start fights, I observe that the 13 American colonies did not unite and rebel from the crown because they believed that the crown didn't understand their problems. They rebelled because they had evidence, conclusive enough to start a fight for their lives, that the crown didn't CARE about their problems.
(Blatant plug: I wrote about this specific American/English issue, still affecting our relationships today, in my novella "The First Command" :) Okay, anyone else want to use my soapbox? I'm jumping down now.)

I just spent the last week going through an author's first story. From his word choice, he's clearly "British", and almost certainly English. Not Welsh, not Scot, and probably not from anywhere west of Plymouth, but beyond that I'm not too certain. I didn't tell him to change things to Americanisms, but I did point out several places where "An American won't understand what you're saying here. Still, the narrator is English and he would talk that way so leave it." There's a right way and a wrong way to 'improve' a story.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Zen Master


Very good point. However, "Being English" is not a valid explanation for changing a tool


I agree, but the editor clearly didn't understand what either tool/weapon was or how they are used, because if he did, the change makes even less sense. I only suggested the editor being English as a means of explaining his clear ignorance of these things, I did not suggest that as justifying the change.


f I'm writing an action yarn and I talk about whipping out my trusty Glock 9mm while rolling in the dirt and shooting the bad guy, and my editor changes that to whipping out my trusty Enfield .303 and shooting the bad guy


changing the Glock to and UZI would be more comparable to machette->Bowie knife. but now I'm just picking nits for fun.

In this case, there was a paragraph about hacking. In the immediately previous paragraph, the author specified a tool I own two of, that I use for hacking the underbrush out of my way in the jungle.


Which is exactly what that particular tool was invented for. I can't remember if the origin is African or South/Central American.

Zom

@Crumbly Writer

the results are striking!

I'm sorry to say that to me it is striking like a hatchet. If I received such a response from an editor I would:
a) sack the editor; or
b) quit writing.
I vote for a).
Although there are some valid changes in there, they are very much in the minority. Your style has been completely dispensed with. The story has been dumbed down. I find the edited version much less interesting.
Sorry.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Zom

Although there are some valid changes in there, they are very much in the minority. Your style has been completely dispensed with. The story has been dumbed down. I find the edited version much less interesting.

My style focuses on detail and rich characters. As I said, she stripped out much of the character background, which makes them interesting. Now the tertiary characters are just empty bodies moving around. However, she had a point as I was head-hopping. Her other point, which I'm not as fond of, is 'if it doesn't advance the story, cut it'.

The problem is, my style isn't selling books, so I figure I'll try this approach and see whether it gets me anywhere. I had a segment where the main character meets a white limo driver speaking like a Rastafarian. She cut the entire exchange, saying it didn't matter. It didn't, but if the reader doesn't care about the driver's opinion, then they might as well drive in silence.

Still, it's a faster read, and as I said, it keeps your attention. Previously, readers had a tendency to put the stories aside mid-chapter. They were interested, but their attention wandered just like the plot line did.

Edit: The story was originally about the main character who's private life was falling apart just as the case she's investigating threatens to rip the NYPD apart. Now it's a traditional police story, focusing on the mystery. I'm not sure which is the better approach.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

Ernest, sorry to jump on minor details, but "I once wanted to try and editor" is the very reason we need editors!


And one of the reasons I have TWO editors go over my stories prior to posting, but some errors still slip through. But the title just screamed for the joke.

BTW I wish I had a dollar for every time I've typed and when I mean an.

Zom

@Crumbly Writer

I'm not sure which is the better approach

A conundrum. Do you write to enjoy it or do you write to make money? If you believe your editor then you (specifically) can't do both.

Basic cop stories are a dime a dozen. I prefer rich characters. But then I haven't bought any of your stories, I don't think.

Maybe you just need to distil and target the audience you like to write to, and convince them to read your stuff.

Maybe you do need to dumb it all down and head for that very lowest common denominator. Glad I don't have to choose.

sejintenej

@awnlee jawking

Strange, I can't recall seeing that error in any stories I've proofread. I wonder if that's because I've missed any occurrences, or because the authors whose work I chose to proofread set a high standard to begin with.

One of my programmes refused to take that site (sensibly) but the other did. Personally I can't see how any reasonably fluent person over the age of three could mistake then with than(typos excluded)

sejintenej
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

@? Crumbly Writer wrote:


Ernest, sorry to jump on minor details, but "I once wanted to try and editor" is the very reason we need editors!


Surely simple mistakes/typos like this cry out for a proof reader rather than the far more advanced skills of an editor?

Chris Podhola

@ Crumbly

CW, I think you are taking the right approach here and are adopting the correct attitude in regard to this step you have taken to forward yourself in your writing. Certainly, a few of the points brought up have some validity (ie. the Bowie knife versus machete thing), but you are the author and you have the authority to override any mistakes like this that she's made.

Ultimately, you've purchased yourself an effective tool and I hope you continue to see it that way. You can blend her changes with your style in any way you deem appropriate and it should still result in an improvement in your ability to tell a better story.

Before you hired this editor, you weren't sure about things that you might be doing right, or could be doing wrong. It sounds to me like you've found at least some answers, which is always a good thing. Even if you reject some of her changes or ideas, you will always have the ideas that you like and want to try out as your reward for the step you've taken.

The best part is that the things you've learned were shown to you in direct relation to something you've written.

I say flip the bird to the naysayers and proceed with confidence. You made a tough decision and an expensive one, but with the right applications, you should experience growth, both in your skills and hopefully in your sales.

Good luck to you sir and thank you for sharing your results.

Chris Podhola

Oh, and P.S.

I agree with what you said about the 'But' thing. I think it's okay to start a sentence here and there with 'But', but doing in more than occasionally is a mistake. The reason for starting a sentence with either 'And' or 'But' should be to draw attention to the sentence. If you do it too often, it becomes 'typical' and the reader's attention won't be sparked.

Ernest Bywater

@sejintenej

Surely simple mistakes/typos like this cry out for a proof reader rather than the far more advanced skills of an editor?


both my editors do a lot more than just proofread, but they do that as well. They find logic holes and continuity errors - the few times I do make them. They also point out when they think I may be pushing the envelope of the believability of the story. One is Australian and one is from the US. The US one is also very good at pointing things he feels the US readers won't get straight away or I've not explained them well enough yet.

Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

BTW I wish I had a dollar for every time I've typed and when I mean an.


I wish I had a dollar for every time you typed "sue" when you meant "use."

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Her other point, which I'm not as fond of, is 'if it doesn't advance the story, cut it'.


That's "advance the plot OR develop a character.
Why don't you agree with that?

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola

@Switch Blayde

That's "advance the plot OR develop a character.


I have to agree with Switch on this one, CW. It is perfectly acceptable to allow a bit of 'tangent' in order to develop a character. Especially if the character has importance to the story.

awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

Might I ask the purpose of the prologue?

They're pretty much deprecated by the creative writing industry these days, although some published authors still use them. Their main use is by novice authors to brain dump the rules of their universe rather than drip feeding it or, more often, to include something with a bang in the interest of tempting an agent or commercial publisher, the vital first three normal chapters of their novel being short on action.

Your editor has acted towards the latter goal, hence making the prologue faster and more taut, but I'm not sure that's right for your story. What sort of tie-in do the prologue events have with the rest of the story?

AJ

Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

They're pretty much deprecated by the creative writing industry these days


Always be wary of the possibility of group think with things like that.

There might well be a good valid reason why prologues have fallen by the wayside.

However, it's all so possible that someone influential in the industry said I personally don't like prologues (as a matter of personal taste, not for any articulatable reason) and because that person was influential everyone else went along without even thinking about why.

rather than drip feeding it or


Unless you know a clearly articulated and logical reason why this method is necessarily always better than a prologue, I am inclined to call it group think.

Chris Podhola

@Dominions Son

They're pretty much deprecated by the creative writing industry these days


Personally, I don't consider myself to be in the creative writing industry. I think of myself as an author and a publisher of books. It's also the first time I've heard anyone suggest not to include a prologue. I've read plenty about there being rules to follow when using a prologue and guidelines as to when you should, but I haven't heard anyone deprecate the idea.

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

They're pretty much deprecated by the creative writing industry these days, although some published authors still use them.


That's what I hear on wattpad. Most readers say they don't read the prologue unless they get lost in the story and then go back to the prologue to see if it would help them understand. That's crazy.

I believe prologues got a bad name because many authors used them to do an info dump. The prologue should be as compelling as your novel.

One of the best reasons I know of for having a prologue is when your story has two beginnings.

Another has to do with POV. You might have a 1st-person story that needs to provide the reader with info the narrator doesn't know. You can do that in a prologue written in 3rd-person.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Zom

@awnlee jawking

What sort of tie-in do the prologue events have with the rest of the story?

Good question, and one that may actually require reading the story? The ongoing series 'A Well Lived Life' makes excellent use of prologues. It would be a loss to see such an effective tool deprecated.

Replies:   awnlee_jawking
awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son


Unless you know a clearly articulated and logical reason why this method is necessarily always better than a prologue, I am inclined to call it group think.


Done well, the rules of the universe can be drip-fed into a story without interrupting the flow. Otherwise you're starting with the equivalent of a history lesson and readers want to read a story not a history lesson.

AJ

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

Done well, the rules of the universe can be drip-fed into a story without interrupting the flow. Otherwise you're starting with the equivalent of a history lesson and readers want to read a story not a history lesson.


Done well, maybe as long as there aren't too many rules relevant to chapter 1, but done well, a prologue is not necessarily just a history lesson.

This is not a reason that the drip in method is always better, you are still running on group think.

Replies:   funkso
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Many trends in writing are cyclical. For example, it used to be a hanging offence to use 'said' more than once per chapter, whereas nowadays they tell you to avoid not using 'said'.

Personally I don't eschew prologues completely, but I carefully evaluate the pros and cons for each candidate story.

AJ

awnlee_jawking

@Zom


'A Well Lived Life' makes excellent use of prologues.


I'm not sure I agree with that. They seem to be a teaser for what will happen several books in the future and to me that comes across as rather affected.

AJ

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@awnlee_jawking

I'm not sure I agree with that.

To each their own. I guess it depends on what floats your boat. For me, speculation is a large part of stories like that, and the prologues only enhance same.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@sejintenej


Surely simple mistakes/typos like this cry out for a proof reader rather than the far more advanced skills of an editor?


Sorry, but proofreaders are a type of editor. Most editors also do proofreading. It's their bread and butter.

That's "advance the plot OR develop a character.

Why don't you agree with that?


Switch, I didn't say I disagreed with it, just that I wasn't fond of tossing attractive characters in the trash. The limosuine driver (in the first chapter) was intriguing, and his advice is worth paying attention to because the readers learn to trust his judgement. It's the characters I write for. If you remove all the characters, and just leave the main character and a few background figurines, you don't have much of a story left.

By the way, you asked whether I'd learned anything. I just editing another chapter in a different story (halting editing this one while I decide whether I want to completely abandon my own style). I found myself unable to implement many of the changes. Realizing you make mistakes is one thing, understanding how to avoid them is another. It's simply using "said" for every attribution, but it's another to realize how to combine paragraphs into a couple of sparse sentences.

It is perfectly acceptable to allow a bit of 'tangent' in order to develop a character. Especially if the character has importance to the story.


Chris, the limo driver was a minor character. She left the major characters, but it's the minor ones which carry the story. The main characters are the pie at the end of the meal, while the minor characters are the meat and potatoes which carry the story (weak analogy, I know).

Might I ask the purpose of the prologue?


Awnlee, this gets into an old debate we've had over and over (in the Google forum). Yes, I understand how to use prologues. In this case, the murder is only incidental to the plot. The story begins after the death, when the detective first receives the case. It isn't necessary to understanding the story, but provides insights into the story. What's more, it doesn't matter whether the readers skip it or not, though those who read it gain more insight into the story.

You use prologues, knowing few will read them, because the objects in the prologue aren't a direct part of the plot. It's a teaser, nothing more.

DS and Chris, prologues aren't used much in general fiction, but they're practically required in sci-fi since they're so common there (mostly to fill in back story).

Important Point Below!

Finally, and this is getting lost at the very end of my long response, but I need some feedback here. How many (still reading) think the edited prologue strips my individual author voice in favor of my editors? I'm eager to learn what I need to succeed, and not just please my few (several thousand) loyal fans. I'm now fumbling in the dark, not knowing whether I'm holding myself back or whether I just need to promote my minor voice more aggressively.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


How many (still reading) think the edited prologue strips my individual author voice in favor of my editors?


CW,

I've not read much of the edited version because I just couldn't get past the first few pages of the prologue without feeling it was a story outline and wanting to correct so many things I felt were wrong with how it was structured. Sorry, but that's how it struck me.

edit to add: To me, the original felt like a fiction story, the edited version felt like an academic attempt at fiction.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

If you remove all the characters, and just leave the main character and a few background figurines, you don't have much of a story left


I couldn't open your before and after so I'm answering these blindly (I must have a cookie blocked or something).

I hope your editor wasn't doing that.

A minor character must be there for a reason: to move the plot forward or build another character. You can't just throw in characters that don't do that. That would be like describing in detail a house at the end of the block that isn't part of the story. It might be a beautiful description, but so what? What would it add to the story?

Not every character needs to move the plot forward. But they aren't minor characters. You can have a butler serving drinks at a party who doesn't move the plot forward, but in that case the butler is simply part of the furniture. He's not a minor character.

Replies:   funkso
awnlee jawking
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

I think the editor has altered your voice. But if your intention was to provide a teaser for the story to follow, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Depending on how big a role the characters subsequently play, you may have supplied too much detail about throwaway characters. For example, James Patterson (who likes prologues) probably wouldn't even have named the councilman.

Having said that, I liked the contrast between the mundaneness of councilman's last thought about his wife being mild irritation that she might be scuffing the floor compared with the subsequent horror. If I had been editing I would have spared that.

AJ

ustourist

@Crumbly Writer

How many (still reading) think the edited prologue strips my individual author voice in favor of my editors?

I stand by my original thoughts on this.
The style of the writing was changed and not for the better. The story had the life sucked from it and became more of a corpse without a personality.

Chris Podhola
Updated:

I hate to say this, but I tend to agree here. I read both versions and your version is better. I do still think your version needs editing, but the editor you hired went way overboard with the cutting. She did, in fact, cut all personality out of the original voice.

Some of her changes are okay (I think), but many of them are too intrusive. If you look at the track changes, there is more red than there is black (it seems).

All in all, I enjoyed reading your version better.

If I were you, I would probably go through her changes with a fine toothed comb and I probably would reject more than half of her changes.

I do agree with some of the things she says in her comments, but for some of them I agree with her for different reasons.

In one comment, she says that the character, 'wouldn't refer to himself like this.' Well, how does she know what his personality is? Some people are vain and tell themselves some really odd things. Maybe he would say that. So, for me, if your intent was to show a vain personality, I might alter the words to make sure the words were specific to him, but I wouldn't necessarily delete that he said it.

In the end, it is nice that you are asking for opinions and I hope that the ones given are helping you, but it really is your decision. Try to find the way to make the most of the experience, I guess. I hope it works out for you.

Edited to add:

By the way, I feel like she missed way too many minor grammatical flaws. I kind of understand how it happened. The reason you should edit in phases is because your brain can go into overload. When you are making major content edits, it is harder to focus on grammatical flaws (at least it is for me).

Crumbly Writer

Well, thanks everyone for your input. But it puts me into a real bind. The way the author did the edit (going off on her own, without getting to know my style of writing first, or getting feedback on what kinds of editing I was looking for (say by providing a chapter or two for my feedback), I'm left with an "all or nothing" situation.

She cut multiple paragraphs at a time, stitching together fragments of several sentences to create an entirely new paragraph. If I approve each edit individually, I'll end up with two distinctly different styles of writing which aren't likely to mesh well with each other.

So then it comes down to: do I toss my own writing voice, or do I flush thousands of dollars down the tubes with little to show for it?

Damn, I was hoping for some easier decisions than this. This is a hard selection!

I must say, this editor had a very dismissive attitude, assuming I didn't understand enough for her to cater to me. I didn't expect hand-holding, but allowing for some direction would have helped.

I'm taking all your suggestions into consideration and am folding them into the story (both before and after versions). Now I just have to decide which direction to take the story. Since this was essentially an experiment to see what value an author gets for such an investment, I'll probably go with her version (with me modifying it afterwards), just to see whether it sells any better than my other books have. If not, then I won't hire an editor in the future. If the book sells well enough to pay (at least partially) for the edit, then I'll probably try again. But as I've observed, while I understand her lessons, I'm not sure how many I can really work into future stories. So far, I'm incorporating several minor lessons into my future books, but I haven't really changed anything major in my writing.

Luckily, this book was in a new genre for me, so chances are, it'll mostly be read by readers other than my normal sci-fi fans. If the books stands or falls, hopefully it won't impact my other sales (or hurt my professional reputation).

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

do I toss my own writing voice, or do I flush thousands of dollars down the tubes with little to show for it?


I think you just had an expensive education lesson. I'd go with your own version but revise it while keeping in mind some of the points your paid for person said, but not all of them.

funkso

@Ernest Bywater

And one of the reasons I have TWO editors go over my stories prior to posting, but some errors still slip through. But the title just screamed for the joke.


I proof-read on a popular series here, 2nd book and felt like I made quite a difference (if only because I changed capital for capitol everywhere it needed it). I wasn't invited back for the 3rd, and I think that's because the editor before me liked the control a bit. I'd get chapters late, with posting deadlines already passing, and drama.

Even with three proof-readers though things got through. It can't be helped. We only get so long and so much effort goes in.

I'd be surprised if many writers on here gets an editor in early who would have any impact on story direction, narrative flow, what the author is trying to say. I also wouldn't be surprised if I was wrong.

I also copped a lot of flack for being Australian, as they thought I wouldn't follow a lot of the Americanisms, and that may be fair - but I can pick up on a lot of issues and if an American follows it, they can tell where I've gone out of bounds.

Changing from cookie to biscuit is a bit of a giveaway though.

Replies:   Zom  Ernest Bywater
funkso

@Dominions Son

Done well, maybe as long as there aren't too many rules relevant to chapter 1, but done well, a prologue is not necessarily just a history lesson.


I agree with this, and what's wrong with a history lesson? It doesn't have to be about setting up the rules, just the tone, landscape or setting before the story.

You could have a king be dethroned in the prologue, and a thousand years of darkness across the land. First chapter a knight is travelling...

World-building, setting, rules... if you need to set up then a prologue is useful, if you don't need to do that or can do it retroactively then you tend to cold open and have the character reminisce, or find it out from storytelling or fact-dumping along the way.

funkso

@Switch Blayde

Not every character needs to move the plot forward. But they aren't minor characters. You can have a butler serving drinks at a party who doesn't move the plot forward, but in that case the butler is simply part of the furniture. He's not a minor character.


But he does describe the major characters are the type that have a butler. Sometimes furniture can be useful to describe, sometimes it's just description porn, and sometimes it's useless.

awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

I think you were unlucky. If she were doing the job on behalf of a dead tree publisher or agent, she would have a standard set of rules to follow and your opinions would be secondary. Since you were hiring her directly, she should have shown far more sympathy towards your writing style and what you wanted her to do.

I don't know how you chose her, but personal recommendation is usually a better way than picking one out of a phone book.

AJ

Replies:   funkso  Crumbly Writer
funkso

@awnlee jawking

What's a phone book?

Kidding, but man, there are people these days who wouldn't know.

Zom

@funkso

I'd be surprised if many writers on here gets an editor in early who would have any impact on story direction, narrative flow, what the author is trying to say

I don't know if many do, but I know some well respected authors on here do.

Ernest Bywater

@funkso

What's a phone book?

Kidding, but man, there are people these days who wouldn't know.


Ayep, they'd be the same ones who think a party line is: Hey, you want to go to a party with me on Friday night?

Ernest Bywater

@funkso

I'd be surprised if many writers on here gets an editor in early who would have any impact on story direction, narrative flow, what the author is trying to say. I also wouldn't be surprised if I was wrong.


At one point in my varied work career I was responsible for getting drafts to and from editors for some of the people who worked for my organisation. No one sent anything to an editor until they finished the third draft. The editor went over it and sent it back, and it would travel between the author and editor two to four times before I was instructed to send it off to the printers.

From that experience I found out an editor is there to help polish and fine tune a finished product, but not to be involved in the actual creation stage.

Replies:   Chris Podhola  Zom
awnlee jawking

@funkso


What's a phone book?


I wonder if the idiom will survive after dead tree directories have died out completely.

AJ

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

I wonder if the idiom will survive after dead tree directories have died out completely.


Checking your iPad contact list doesn't have quite the same ring as checking the little black book.

Chris Podhola

@Ernest Bywater

From that experience I found out an editor is there to help polish and fine tune a finished product, but not to be involved in the actual creation stage.


Well said.

ustourist

@Crumbly Writer

Publish under a different name.
Since it is a new genre you may actually get disappointed reviews from followers of your other one if you use the same name.
It will also give an unbiased indication of whether the combination of her editing and that genre is of interest to the public.
The only real downside could be that some people may want to follow you across the lines, but wouldn't you be able to contact many of them by email as existing readers and explain the reasoning for a different name?

Zom

@Ernest Bywater

not to be involved in the actual creation stage

Sorry:
"The editing process often begins with the author's idea of the work itself, continuing as a collaboration between the author and the editor as the work is created. As such, editing can involve creative skills, human relations and a precise set of methods" [Handbook Of Print Journalism]

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Zom


[Handbook Of Print Journalism]


The editing function in a newspaper is very different to that of an editor of a book. Also, the editing of a fiction book is very different to that of editing an academic article or book.

What they call an editor in a newspaper is the guy who decides how the final version will be cut to fit the page and what the content will be because he's the manager of that section; his job is to control and direct the reporters writing for him. While an editor for a fiction author is there to assist the author, not control and direct them.

edit to add: This alternate use of the word editor is one of the reasons why there's such confusion about what an editor does.

Applying journalistic editing to a fiction book is like insisting the use of a 12 foot sailboat is the same as a 250 foot motorlaunch.

Replies:   Zom  Dominions Son
Zom

@Ernest Bywater

The editing function in a newspaper is very different to that of an editor of a book

OK, but that paragraph or something similar appears in many descriptions of editing of various types.

I have found references to 'developmental editors' for non-newspaper work, and they are described as collaborative, and a radical form of substantive editing, so I guess it is possible.

Maybe it is too strict to try to fit all forms of editing for all forms of non-fiction authors into a neat definition.

I know first hand that a number of authors on SOL do use developmental/collaborative editors.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

a 250 foot motorlaunch.


That's like calling a Greyhound Bus a car.

Ernest Bywater

@Zom

Maybe it is too strict to try to fit all forms of editing for all forms of non-fiction authors into a neat definition.


The interaction between an author and a good editor has to be collaborative to the extant the discussions on the editing of the work is a too and fro process between the two. The author hands over the manuscript and the editor comes back with comments and suggestions on what they've edited on a regular basis. The two talk about the suggestions and the comments, and the both take on-board what the other has said. However, a good editor does not change the style of the writer, they should help polish the work and will probably help with the story pacing.

Part of the problem in the editorial process is like awnlee said earlier, most dead tree editors are working for a publisher who has strict guidelines on how they want the work presented and part of the editor's job there is to guide the author into moulding the story to fit those guidelines and the style the publisher wants because that's who's paying both the editor and the author for the work. Whereas, when the editor is employed by the author they should be working with the author to establish the proper guidelines first and then looking to help move the work to fit those guidelines because it's what the person paying for the work wants.

If the editor feels wholesale changes, such as this person is making to CW's story, are required they should mark-up the first couple of chapters and talk it over with the author and then suggest the author re-write the whole project and give it back for editing after that.

Replies:   Chris Podhola  Zom
Chris Podhola

@Ernest Bywater

Man, this is some Twilight Zone shit here, but I'm actually agreeing with pretty much everything Ernest is saying here! lol

Somebody pinch me.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Chris Podhola

Lets see if there is room for more agreement. Editors may proofread, if they chose, but if proofreaders edit, they are editors.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola

@richardshagrin

Well... theoretically, sure.

My difference in perception comes in that I have yet to meet or talk to an editor who doesn't proofread and I haven't met or talked to any proofreaders who are capable of making any substantial edits with any degree of capability.

My heart goes out to CW in this instance. In a perfect world, hiring a professional editor and paying as much money as he did, should have resulted in a far superior product. I can only judge for certain based on the material he provided as the sample that we were allowed to view, but from what I saw, the end result wasn't far superior. The editor in question made a few improvements along the way, but made so many overly intrusive cuts, that the end product wasn't superior (in my opinion).

The reason I am agreeing with what Ernest has said so diligently, is because I firmly believe that it is the author's responsibility to make a majority of the major content changes within his or her work. Once the author is satisfied that his manuscript is as good as he is capable of making it, then and only then is it time to consult another set of eyes.

And it's a shame too, because (again my opinion) this is the best piece I've read from CW. I genuinely enjoyed reading his version of the prologue and the flaws I saw in his version were relatively minor (especially when you consider the intrusive cuts the editor made).

I thought the editor's minor cuts and changes were justified, but the places where she cut entire paragraphs, to me, were over the top.

In my opinion, the largest needs for changes in his opening had to do with variations to the dialog, which I didn't really notice too many of those in her changes (other than where she cut them altogether).

Replies:   Zom
Chris Podhola

CW,

One thing I haven't noticed you saying is whether the editor offered either suggestions or changes that added content to the story. Did she have any of those, or was it all hack and slash?

rustyken

I find it very difficult at times to see my errors. These could be using the wrong word or leaving a word out. Fortunately an editor or proof reader catches those most of the time. Like me they are not perfect. So I appreciate readers comment pointing out errors that have slipped through. Typically I have reviewed a chapter several times before it goes to an editor and then at least once after receiving their comments.

Several editors I have worked with have provided alternate wording for some sentences. I have to admit that in most if not all cases they were an improvement which I greatly appreciate.

Generally, when I receive readers comments, I will update the offending chapter at the next posting cycle. It does't take any significant amount of time and makes it easier for future readers.

Since I've published a story here (with a different pen name), I've become sensitized to wording errors. Before I used to read through them, and now the cause me to pause. Reading through them means that I mentally substitute the correct word.

Cheers, RustyKen

Zom

@Ernest Bywater

they should help polish the work and will probably help with the story pacing

So if there are rough classes of fiction editors, based on the medium, and on how they edit, all the way from 'give it to me when its done and I will tell you what needs fixing' to 'lets have a latte and discuss what the story really should be like', then it seems the work of an editor covers a broad spectrum of involvement.

Surely it is up to the 'independent' author to decide where on the spectrum the editor he wants should be. Of course I guess there are authors who really can't articulate what they want from an editor, and can have difficulty in reconciling what they get with what they expected. CW's situation may be a case in point.

How far, then, does a collaborative editor have to get into the authorship of a story to start being considered a co-author, with a very small 'c'? If discussions happen on a partial chapter basis, often pre-chapter, and whole story threads change or evaporate because of that, or if characters change, or entire sections don't get written, does the editor remain an editor? I am not talking about style, or presentation, but the actual structure and unfolding of the story. What then?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Zom

@Chris Podhola

I have yet to meet or talk to an editor who doesn't proofread

I would be interested to know if you would be confident in restating that as 'I have yet to meet or talk to an editor who doesn't proofread well'.

I maintain that editing and proofreading have different foci. That good editors can't be anal enough to proofread well, and good proofreaders are too anal to be able to edit well. My personal experience continues to support my view.

Good proofreaders are those that always see what is there instead of what should be there. Good creative brains can't do that very well.

Zen Master

@Crumbly Writer

CW, does your editing contract -the one that says you have to fork over several thousand dollars for work you don't like- have a secrecy clause? I, for one, would really like to know the name of the editor to help me _avoid_ her. If you were happy, she'd want you to spread her name as free advertising. If you're not happy, you should be just as free to spread her name.

Zen Master

@Zom

While there is some overlap, I have to agree with you. I can help an author work through some plot/whatever issues, and while I'm at it point out some speling/gramer/whatever issues, or I can do the anal nit-pick final check but if I'm doing that I'm not thinking about the plot holes. I can't do both at once.

Replies:   Zom
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Zom


So if there are rough classes of fiction editors, based on the medium, and on how they edit, all the way from 'give it to me when its done and I will tell you what needs fixing'


The usual place to come across an editor of the 'I will tell you what needs fixing' type is when they get assigned to the author by the publishing house handing over a contract and a big cheque for the publishing rights of the story because they want the story to comply with their story guidelines. In that situation the author is being paid to amend the story to suit the publisher and the editor is the publisher's employee telling them how to amend it to suit.

I think I mentioned it earlier, but Wes Boyd has a very good story about a publishing house editor called Picking up the Pieces and it goes into the nitty gritty of that type of work real well. However, like many things, it's the one paying the bill that gets to call the tune. But when the editor makes a major hack and slash, like the one CW hired, does a job like that, you have to wonder about what they're using for their guidelines and where they expect the story will be sold to.

http://storiesonline.net/s/69945/picking-up-the-pieces

.....

The main purpose of early discussion on a chapter by chapter basis is for both sides to get familiar with what the other is doing and thinking. Even so, the editor should not be attempting to alter the story or plot line at all; the most they should be doing about the plot is pointing out plot holes or places where the plot doesn't link up right so the author can fix them.

The main thing an editor should be giving advice and correction on is smooth story flow - which is done via sentence structure, word choice, and similar grammar and structure matters. The job is to smooth and polish the work, not give it a total re-write.

...........

Once before I saw an editor do a slash and hack similar to what hit CW's story, and that was an academic paper that needed a major rework to suit the specific needs of the niche market journal it was to be published in - something that doesn't apply to a fiction story.

edit to add: The journal wanted certain aspects of the paper brought to the foreground and others pushed to the background; thus giving it a different perspective to the original document while using the same material. This was because of the journal's target audience and what they were looking for.

Replies:   Zom  awnlee jawking
Zom

@Ernest Bywater

the editor should not be attempting to alter the story or plot line at all

But what if the author wants that?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Zom

@Zen Master

I can't do both at once.

A like mind! I find it doesn't work with subsequent passes either. I use multiple passes to proof, but I know a pass(es) to edit and then a pass(es) to proof doesn't work, because what is supposed to be there is already in the head.

Replies:   Zen Master
Ernest Bywater

@Zom

But what if the author wants that?


Then they should be seeking out a co-author and not an editor. having been involved with both activities in the past, I can tell you they are two very different activities, mindsets, and outcomes.

Replies:   Zom
Zom
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


Then they should be seeking out a co-author


OK, so as I posed above, how far, then, does a collaborative editor have to get into the authorship of a story to start being considered a co-author?

Is there a strict white line set in some definition concrete somewhere, or is it up to the author and editor to agree?

funkso

I would think some agreement, and be clear about the effort. I've heard a couple of instances where editors thought they should get co credit and got upset.

Ernest Bywater

@Zom

OK, so as I posed above, how far, then, does a collaborative editor have to get into the authorship of a story to start being considered a co-author?


The best way I can think of to give you the difference between an editor and a co-author is to give some examples.

1. I edited a story for another author recently. He had a complete book. Much of what I did, after a proofread, was to identify points where I felt he was better to change the sentence structure to flow better. A lot of cases where I suggested a change of word to make it easier to read or flow. But at the end I found a significant plot hole. I didn't try to fill the hole, I simply pointed out the hole and suggest a couple of possible outlines for him to use in filling it. He's working on that and will send it back for another edit when finished, but he has to do the creative work on how to fix the problem.

2. I co-authored Shiloh because The Scot was dropping it at chapter 25. With his permission I rewrote the first 25 chapters to flow more easily and changed it from past to present tense. I then went on to write the rest of the story. In this case the creative concepts up to chapter 25 and the aliens were his, everything following that was my creative content. Later, we both edited the first 32 chapters, with The Scot cutting some scenes from the first 25 chapters. For legal reasons I had to change the name of the the university and the uni sports mascot, but that's the only change to his creative content I made. The Scot was unable to do any more editing work on the story, due to personal reasons, and I finished and posted it after having my regular editor go over the story.

That's one way a co-author works a story.

3. Although I didn't list as co-author to start with, I was heavily involved in the creative development of all of Cazna's stories and wrote all the action scenes for the stories. During the story development we discussed the plots, sub-plots, and how they'd develop, with both of us adding to the creative development. Later, when Caz was unable to do any more work I took over the revisions and now list as co-author. My original concerns about listing as co-author no longer apply.

.......

In examples 2 and 3 I'm co-author because I was actively involved in the major creative development of the story and it's direction when there was nothing there at that point. That's where I see the real difference between a co-author and an editor.

An editor may point out a plot hole, but it's wrong for them to write the material to fill, although they may suggest a general direction within what's already there.

I hope this helps you understand where I'm coming from on this.

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@Ernest Bywater

difference between an editor and a co-author

The examples you gave are clearly co-authorships where the co-author takes full control of the story at some point. You also maintain that editors don't impact authorship. What happens between those extremes?

I do understand where you are coming from. I always have. But I am asking where the line is.

Today's technology makes it possible for authors and editors to collaborate much more closely than ever before, even at vast physical separations. Maybe only over the last five years have Internet enabled technologies allowed such collaborations to occur seamlessly without the traditional swapping of 'manuscripts' taking place.

I have trouble accepting that the cast iron definitions that have been relevant for perhaps centuries are relevant any longer. Some authors and editors are making more use of the real time concurrent collaborations that are now possible, and they have little use for the niceties of traditional roles.

So where is the line?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Zom

You also maintain that editors don't impact authorship. What happens between those extremes?


I know some editors push the envelope, but the author is the one who provides the creative ideas and control. If they invite another person to assist with the creativity of the plot, then you're moving to the co-author side of things, but an editor should keep well away from that.

The closest an editor should get, in my book, is what I did with the last story I edited. I pointed out to the author the end seemed very rushed and comes to a sudden conclusion (plot hole, in my mind). I suggested he look at the last three chapters and work them over to slow the pace a bit, I pointed out that a dozen chapters earlier he foreshadowed the events that are the conclusion, but the plot hole has them suddenly appearing out of mid-air. I suggested he needed to add more content to introduce the foreshadowed plot items a bit more towards the end so they don't seem to suddenly appear. - This is simply pointing out the plot hole and the general trend he needs to go to close it, the creative ideas on how to develop sub-plots to close the hole is all up to the author; it would be wrong of me to write out what I think is the answer and shove it in.

.............

I agree the technology today allows for people in wider geographic areas to collaborate on a story, but the ability to collaborate has always been there, just limited how far apart the collaborators can be. If someone wants to be a co-author, they should advertise for that and find someone to work with from the initial story conception, not come in at the end and stick their style and name all over it.

In one of my stories I foreshadowed what will come in a later linked story, a reader wrote to me setting out the outline of a story using what I foreshadowed. I wrote back and told him to go ahead and write his story his way, as I intend to use what I've got to write my story my way and wasn't interested in co-authoring his story with him. In regards to the Chaos Calls stories I write I've had a few people write and suggest technology I can introduce into the story, some I probably will introduce, some I won't, but none of what they suggest affects any of the creative story line or the plots the stories will run; this is not co-authoring or editing, just an idea for a peripheral item to enrich the story society environment.

..............

What does and doesn't constitute editing is a lot like art, and that famous quote about knowing it when they see it. The variations in the story CW wrote looks more like an attempt to take over the story as a co-author, but may simply be a case of the editor trying to shoe-horn CW's story into the rigid story guidelines for the publishing houses they normally work with, and because CW's work is so different from those they work with it requires a lot of significant changes to fit the publisher guidelines. In which case, the editor failed to do what they were paid to do, which was to polish CW's story, not to slice it up to fit a particular publishing house set of guidelines. It's akin to be asked to load up some gear on a four tonne truck, but deciding to use the 1.5 tonne pick-up instead and stuff everything into the pick-up tray and roofrack instead a neat load into the big pantec truck.

Chris Podhola

@Zom

I maintain that editing and proofreading have different foci. That good editors can't be anal enough to proofread well, and good proofreaders are too anal to be able to edit well. My personal experience continues to support my view.


Okay. Stating it this way makes more sense to me and I can find agreement with it.

awnlee jawking

@Ernest Bywater

I seem to recall the protagonist editor in Wes Boyd's story was tasked with working on a complete turkey written by a woman author, the book having been already accepted because of some sexual machinations. The protagonist editor was prepared, as a last resort, to do a virtual rewrite, including changing the plot substantially. I assumed Wes Boyd was using artistic license with regard to the role of an editor.

AJ

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


The protagonist editor was prepared, as a last resort,


From my memory of it, the story you mention he'd read and looked at, then arranged a meeting with the author where he told her it was a major lemon needing major work to suit their guidelines and a big rewrite - he explained the only reason they were considering working on it was because she'd already been paid. He was prepared to work closely with her to identify where she had to work on it, but she had another story mostly written she showed him at the meeting and he worked with her and giving advice on better sentence structure and ways to develop characters and a plot etc to prepare the new story for publication because it was much better. He didn't write any actual story for her, just gave her direction.

In the story he'd marked up passages in the old story that needed lots of attention, but he'd not rewritten it for her.

Another established author her was working with he had a meeting where he pointed out issues she had to address. Again, he noted areas of concern and then left it to her to write the correction.

edit to add: a lot of the posts in the forum are classic first draft work that need the clean up and polishing an editor provides, as is evidenced by the grammatical and spelling errors we often see in the posts because they're written and posted on the fly.

further edit addition: 3.30 a.m. here - I'm off to bed for several hours or more.

Replies:   awnlee_jawking
Zen Master

@Zom

Exactly. I just went through that with an author I hadn't worked with before. I found a bunch of places where the story could be improved, sent them back, he made some/most/all/his choice, and I went through it again, finding far fewer issues. I can't do it a third time, I already know what I'm supposed to be reading. He's gotta turn it over to a fresh set of eyes for the third pass.
I suppose if I was being paid for it I could do it, but it would be real drudgery and I would hate it. I'd need to be paid on a scale for "I hate this job, pay me enough so I don't quit".

Switch Blayde

@Zom

Then they should be seeking out a co-author

OK, so as I posed above, how far, then, does a collaborative editor have to get into the authorship of a story to start being considered a co-author?


I don't believe that's how a co-author works. I never co-authored, but I've spoken to an author who has (for a traditional publisher - Penguin). The two authors worked out the plot together and divided up chapters between them. I don't know how they worked after the draft was done to ensure consistency. But one didn't change the other's; each wrote their own.

I don't want to speak for CW, but I believe he was looking for more than an editor. He was willing to invest in her as a learning experience. We don't know how much latitude CW gave the editor. CW, can you elaborate?

The Development/Structural Editor does the work way before the other types of editors. One author I spoke to said hers does it off the synopsis. That avoids a major rewrite. And having the proofreader/copy editor do their thing at the end avoids having to pay for that twice.

I agree with Ernest. With a traditional publisher, the editor gives the author a list of things to change and a deadline for making the changes. They go back and forth until the editor is happy. The editor doesn't make the changes. But the situation is different. The manuscript was submitted and the publisher thought it was publishable the way it was written with some changes (and probably not style).

I wish I could read the before and after (Dropbox must require a cookie that I have blocked). I wonder if I'd agree that the new version isn't as good as the original.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
awnlee jawking
Updated:

@Zom

I've just seen that Book 8 now has a title - Stephie. That's bad news as far as I can see, because each book is usually about the girl the protagonist breaks up with at the end of the book, and I am really enjoying the Stephie character. :(

AJ

Replies:   Zom
Chris Podhola

@Switch Blayde

Download the track changes version as a file, open it in word and then turn the changes mode to simple, that way, you can see the editor's version. Once you are finished with that, reject all of the changes and you can read CW's version. That's how I had to do it.

awnlee_jawking

@Ernest Bywater

He didn't write any actual story for her, just gave her direction.


Agreed, he didn't have to use last resort tactics because the second book was so much better and the author agreed not to press for publication in the immediate future.

AJ

richardshagrin

I get the feeling from the discussions that one person can't be both editor and proofreader for the same story, and for at least some people, their character(istics) require them to be either an editor or a proofreader, depending on how anal they are, anal being doomed to proofreading and unable to make editor type suggestions. If I got it wrong, please let me know where. I had assumed anyone could proofread, but it took special skills as a writer or experience doing at least some advising on making stories better to be an editor. Anal types may be better proofreaders because they "enjoy" finding and correcting comma faults, missing apostrophes, and other punctuation faults. Personally I do better with homonyms and where spellchecking has selected the wrong word or someone typed and when they meant an. Although I do that all the time, I am not anal enough to proofread everything I write here on the Forum. I tried a little voluntary editing once and was not a success. I suspect it takes more of a sales personality, or finding an author who wants whatever you can provide, if only an alpha or beta reader to suggest issues that don't work for him. That doesn't sound like editing to me, even combined with proofreading. Even the most anal proofreader seems to ignore some issues. Perfection is striven for but seldom achieved.

Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

I get the feeling from the discussions that one person can't be both editor and proofreader for the same story


Proper editing and proper proofreading take two different mindsets, just as being a good writer is a third very different mindset. It is possible for an editor to do proofreading as well as editing, they usually do the two tasks in different reads through the story. However, some people who are very good proofreaders aren't able to make the mind shift to be an editor, and they make a marvellous proofreaders.

Think of them as two circles that overlap, some are in just one circle or the other while some are in both.

The proofreaders needs to pay very fine attention to the spelling and grammar while the editor needs to pay more attention to the sentence structure, grammar, plus plot and character development. One looks at the fine details for every grain of dust and the other looks at the larger picture for the clods of earth.

NB: got fed up of tossing and turning and got up again - can't sleep.

Chris Podhola

@richardshagrin

I get the feeling from the discussions that one person can't be both editor and proofreader for the same story, and for at least some people, their character(istics) require them to be either an editor or a proofreader, depending on how anal they are, anal being doomed to proofreading and unable to make editor type suggestions.


On top of what Ernest said, you have to bear in mind that both of these jobs do take a special talent. Truly good proofreaders are hard to find and valuable when you find them. I've read comments by several authors who frequently contribute to this forum who claim they have their work edited and proofread by two or more different people and yet, when I sampled their work, I was confronted with so many easy to find proofreading errors, that I was appalled to see it published.

The same can be said with editing. It is much more difficult to find truly capable editors. Back before CW got his results back, I thought for sure that when he did share his results, we would be able to see and learn something new about what a professional editor can do to a manuscript.

We learned something new alright. We learned not to put blind faith when hiring an expensive editor. Just because they charge a lot of money, doesn't mean they worth the money they charge.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Chris Podhola

I was confronted with so many easy to find proofreading errors, that I was appalled to see it published.


One important thing to keep in mind is the differences between presentations affect what you see, and how easy it is to see. Most authors at SOL write the stories in a word processing program of some sort, this is true of most authors anywhere. When you upload the story to SOL it goes through a Wizard that converts it for display in html on the SOL system, which changes how it looks, and then the readers can personalise their display settings which change the visual presentation some more.

To give you an example of what I mean, below is the various processes I use and presentations I see.

Original text and master file is written in Libre Office in a pre-set 9 x 6 inch book format using Palatino Linotype in 10 point font and saved as .odt. While writing I have the system display the non-printing characters (carriage returns and spaces etc.) and will do an edit read with them not displayed. - You'd be amazed at what will stand out with the non-printing characters on, but not with them off, and the reverse; it really is two formats.

Editors Read and edit the file in MS Word using the font Times New Roman at 10.5 point. This gives a very different presentation and some things stand out more.

Post edit file ready to publish is converted to PDF, e-pub, and html. The html code is cleaned up, a SOL tagged text .txt file created, loaded into the SOL Wizard and then into it's system for display as html a bit different to my html file.

Finished formats are:

.odt master file in Palatino Linotype in Libre Office.
.PDF version saved in same font, created by Libre Office.
e-pub file created by Calibre using the user's font.
.html file using the browser font.
.txt file of the SOL tagged text code using the system font.
SOL .html displayed with the user preference font.

It's been my experience using that system for over 100 stories that what stands out in the .odt is different to the e-pub, to the .html, to the .txt, to the SOL .html version. Then I'll get a print copy of the PDF and see things on the printed page I'd not seen in any of the earlier versions, and thus, you now know why some of my stories have so many revisions when I correct typos etc I spot in the various versions because the full process takes a long time to go through. It also explains why so many things sneak by the author - and that's not even getting into the business of what they expect to see in the text because they know it so well. To get over this last bit I leave a finished story for some weeks after I get to what I call the posting draft before I give it a final edit and conversion for posting.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


I don't know how you chose her, but personal recommendation is usually a better way than picking one out of a phone book.

Awnlee, that's the process I used. I asked a group of writers on a LinkedIn forum who they recommended. Out of the top three suggestions, I had each do a sample edit, and she had both the most changes and the best ones.

To be on the fair side, though, I specifically asked her to cut my word count back as much as possible, so I could learn how to self-edit myself (since my editors never removed text, just point out typos and logic errors).

Still, her going off into left field and modifying my personal writing style was a bit over the top.

What's a phone book?

Funkso, its books you read on your smartphone. 'D

The editing process often begins with the author's idea of the work itself, continuing as a collaboration between the author and the editor as the work is created.

Zom, that doesn't mean they write the story in their own voice, only that they make suggestions about content.

And it's a shame too, because (again my opinion) this is the best piece I've read from CW.


Thank you, Chris. The reason why it's taken me so long between books (a full year) is that I've been revising my writing substantially during that process. Instead of trying to cut my word count down during the revision process (when I add new story elements), I've learned to write more concise stories. Out of the 4 stories I now have ready (I wrote a lot waiting for the seven months it took for the editor to get to it and finish it) my word count went from 100,000 words to 87,000 (this book), 64,000 and my latest one is only 56,000 (I don't dare submit it to an editor for fear they cut it down to only a short story!).

My next story (and the next to be published on SOL in a couple months) is problematic for the reasons discussed concerning prologues. The first four chapters are all back story, but I couldn't figure out how to eliminate it without destroying the story. I was ready to dump it when my beta readers recommended I publish it anyway.

I'm making progress, mainly because I've been paying attention to how people respond.

By the way, which "variation to the dialogue" did you have issues with?

One thing I haven't noticed you saying is whether the editor offered either suggestions or changes that added content to the story. Did she have any of those, or was it all hack and slash?


Chris, despite being a Content Editor, she had few structural changes, though as I said, she recommended eliminating a full chapter and stripping out what I'd intended as a major subplot. Changes I now agree with, as they echo what my other editors said. She also fact checked several quotes from other authors I'd included in the story, picking up several major problems. But then, I only got as far as the third chapter of her edit (not including this prologue).

I would be interested to know if you would be confident in restating that as 'I have yet to meet or talk to an editor who doesn't proofread well'.


Zom, she specifically told me I should run her version through a proofreader, as it's hard to proofread while you're doing content changes (Boy, did she ever!). However, after paying that much, being told you need to hire yet another professional to clean up her errors wasn't appreciated!

I, for one, would really like to know the name of the editor to help me avoid her.


Zen Master, I'm not afraid to admit when someone screwed up. I still consider her a decent editor, but if you work with her, insist she communicate with her while she works!!!

Her name is Averill Buchanan. As you guessed, she's a Brit.

But when the editor makes a major hack and slash, like the one CW hired, does a job like that, you have to wonder about what they're using for their guidelines and where they expect the story will be sold to.


Ernest, she used to work for one of the major publishers (I forget which). She insisted, earlier, that she follows a particular Style Guide (after commenting about my lack of serial commas), so I'm assuming it's the one her previous publishing firm insisted she use.

OK, so as I posed above, how far, then, does a collaborative editor have to get into the authorship of a story to start being considered a co-author?


Zom, when they add their own content to the story. In this case, despite what she did to my 'voice', I still consider her an editor because she was cutting the text down to size, not writing entire sections of the plot.

I don't want to speak for CW, but I believe he was looking for more than an editor. He was willing to invest in her as a learning experience. We don't know how much latitude CW gave the editor. CW, can you elaborate?


Switch, as I specified earlier, I asked her to cut as much as possible, just so I could learn how she went about it. I'm assuming she took that to mean combining multiple paragraphs into single paragraphs, and cutting anything that wasn't essential to the bare plot.

Also, they (editors in general) suggest you contact Content Editors both before you write the story and after it's completed, the first to point out major mistakes in the basic plot, and the latter to identify what you did wrong. However, I doubt many authors do that, aside from the best selling authors at a major publishing firm (where the publishing is free!)

One important thing to keep in mind is the differences between presentations affect what you see, and how easy it is to see. Most authors at SOL write the stories in a word processing program of some sort, this is true of most authors anywhere.


Ernest, that's why I never accept finished edits (except this last time!). Instead, I take the changes the editors recommend and make them on my Master file, just so the formatting of the chapter doesn't get screwed up!

However, in most cases, when you copy text from one WORD file to another, the changes are adopted to the STYLEs defined in the current document. As long as they use the same Styles, you should be fine. (However, this editor didn't use ANY styles, including the "Normal" style, so I had to manually assign everything to one of my existing styles).

Whew! I opened a can of worms with this addition, in more ways than one. That's a lot of responses all in one pass. Back to work. During church today, I suddenly realized how to improve my latest story, so I revised the first chapter, making substantial changes 2 days before the final version can be submitted to Amazon before the final publication! Luckily, the new version is much better than the original. When you're on a productivity roll, things flow much more smoothly (as opposed to "smoother").

awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer


Still, her going off into left field and modifying my personal writing style was a bit over the top.


I'm reserving judgment on her prowess. All I've seen is her edit of your prologue, and I think it could be argued that it better serves its purpose if it's pared to its bare bones. However I'd be very worried if she changed the voice of your normal chapters.

I guess in this technological age, recommendation through social media is displacing that by people we know in the flesh, but I personally still have reservations.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

I guess in this technological age, recommendation through social media is displacing that by people we know in the flesh, but I personally still have reservations.

I'm not sure I consider the SOL forum "Social Media", because I communicate with so many of you via email and have worked with you separately as well. But I decided against her changes after everyone insisted my original version was preferable to her completed version. That speaks volumes. Why pay money to trade in a successful version for an inferior one. (But then, maybe everyone is just being overly kind for fear of pissing me off! In which case, you can all fuck off!) ;)

However, as I said earlier, I'm still tempted to try publishing her version just to see if it sells any better (or worse) than my other books. If it does better, then it's about time I changed my style! Sometimes convoluted is simply a waste of time.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Chris Podhola

@Ernest Bywater

Well, that was 80% foreign language to me. My process it to write a story in Word, edit the story in word (multiple passes) send it to my editor so he can (hopefully) catch the mistakes I missed, then to publish, converting the file to whichever format is necessary for upload.

I don't know if everything you wrote is necessary or not, because most of it was over my head, but I would suggest that if making your process that complicated results in an increase of grammatical errors, you may want to try to think of ways to simplify your process. Either that, or consider finding editors who are more focused?

Crumbly Writer

@Chris Podhola

I don't know if everything you wrote is necessary or not, because most of it was over my head, but I would suggest that if making your process that complicated results in an increase of grammatical errors, you may want to try to think of ways to simplify your process. Either that, or consider finding editors who are more focused?

Or simply use the same damn word processor everyone else is using! (You wonder why the rest of us don't use freeware writing tools.)

Chris Podhola

@Crumbly Writer

By the way, which "variation to the dialogue" did you have issues with?


Well, I'm referring to the way that it was in the 'before' example. I didn't notice it as much in the after version, because I think she edited out most of the the things that raised the hairs on the back of my neck.

Please bear in mind that I am most interested in character development as a reader. I demand rich, believable characters that mimic reality. I don't care what that reality is. If the person is a stuffy, vain person who speaks with perfect grammar, I'm okay with that. As a matter of fact, Effie Trinket from hunger games is one of my all time favorite characters and she very much spoke with proper grammar.

One of my biggest pet peeves as a reader, is when every character seems to read exactly the same, especially if their dialog seems to be filtered through a grammar rule book before it goes to print. Again, if the character in question happens to be a grammar aficionado, good. But all of a manuscripts characters shouldn't be this way (unless the book is about a bunch of professors).

So a few of the things that stuck out to me were:

"This friggin' umbrella's useless. The sleet's blowing sideways!"

Feels like information stuffing.

"Honey? Are you home? Sorry for being late. There's always someone to meet or another proposal to consider. I had drinks with a building consortium about a new project."

Again, feels like information stuffing but it also feels a little stiff.

"Ah, that hits the spot." He rubbed his belly, loosening his tie and unbuttoning his collar. "Now, let's see where Martha disappeared to."

Feels a little too exact and unnatural. I would have preferred skipping the, 'hits the spot, comment and just having him take a drink of his scotch and then yell out for Martha, by just calling out her name.

I could go on, but it's more of the same, I think. I feel like your prose itself dances effortlessy while your dialog comes off a little stiff and feels cardboard as if all of your characters get their lines from the same place. I feel like each character should have their own distinct personality and, as often as possible, their dialog should reflect that.

I do feel like the dialog here was improved over the last thing of yours I read. At least in this one, the opening character used a little slang and even dropped a g.

Also bear in mind that I am only judging this by the prologue. I would have been willing to read further if more was available. The prose was strong enough to make me want to read further. (Your version. I would not read further in the editor's version).

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Chris Podhola

Thanks, Chris, that's helpful. I'll admit, I've always had a weakness concerning different voices. When the subject comes up, I always point to the differences between my brother and I as we were growing up. Being military dependents, we'd move every couple of years. His way of adapting was to imitate everyone's accent, and he can pick up a dialect after listening to someone for only a few minutes. In my case, I try to rid my voice of any noticeable accent (as much as humanly possible). As a result, I've become a bit tone deaf as far as accents go. I mentally translate everyone's speech into my own universal lingo. I need to work on that now that I'm an author!

By the way, those changes I approved of. As you said, it was excess information which didn't help the story. (The bit about his having drinks about business was an attempt to show possible motives in his murder which might come into play later in the story, but it's not strictly necessary).

Replies:   Zom  Chris Podhola
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Chris Podhola


I don't know if everything you wrote is necessary or not, because most of it was over my head, but I would suggest that if making your process that complicated results in an increase of grammatical errors, you may want to try to think of ways to simplify your process.


It doesn't result in additional errors, what the different formats do is highlight existing errors in different ways. The format make different things more noticeable because of the different presentations.

Now, I don't use Word (and haven't for several years) because I can't afford to keep forking out good money to get the latest version because Microsoft's management have made changes to line the pockets due to the older versions not working with their newer software. Unlike MS Word, Libre Office will work on all versions of MS Windows and also Unix and Linux; it's also much like the old MS Word in looks and doesn't have the ridiculous ribbon. So that's the master file in .odt.

I sell my books on on www.lulu.on so I use a single click on an icon in Libre Office to create the PDF file needed for the print version, then I use Calibre to create an e-pub from the .odt file for the e-book sales. Both these processes take less than a minute combined.

I use the Libre Office Save as option to create the html version for my personal website; another few seconds of work. However, because (like all word processor programs) that puts in excessive format code I spend a few minutes using Bluefish to remove the excess code via the Replace all command to end up with a very small and clean basic html file.

Now, I'm a little obsessive about how my stories present visually and I learned that the SOL Story Submission Wizard will sometimes mess up some presentation aspects of html files and it doesn't like .odt files. Submission as a plain text file leaves out a lot of the format code, but submission as plain text with the SOL Tagged Text codes does have a lot of format coding in it and will carry through the Wizard a lot better than any other option, thus I spend several minutes converting the html code to the tagged text code - which is fairly easy using the Replace all option in a text editor. in most cases it's simply a matter of changing the angled brackets of < and > to the curly brackets of { and } but sometimes includes a little more than that. To have the finished product look as close as possible to what I want in the way of a visual presentation is worth the extra work.

As to being more focussed, reading is done with the mind, not the eye, and everyone will miss different things when reading, no one is perfect.

Anyway, the reason I mentioned all that, and this, is the various formats cause different things to stand out from the bulk of the text more readily. Thus, when an author writes only in MS Word and uses only that, errors they don't see in Word will likely be more noticeable when the SOL Wizard converts their Word file to html for display in the browser. Thus readers spot what the author missed due to the different display format changing how it presents.

edit to add: When I first started writing at SOL I didn't create e-pub or tagged text versions of my works. I started creating the tagged text to get an improved display at SOL and the e-pub is created to get more sales.

Zom
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


I still consider her an editor because she was cutting the text down to size, not writing entire sections of the plot.


Yes, me too. Which leads to why I don't hold with EB's point of view.

But I now see editors doing non-traditional roles enabled by recent technology, by being MUCH more involved in the structure and flow of a story without necessarily 'writing' anything.

It's good to see some folk in this thread now qualifying editor types. But I don't know how to more appropriately qualify the type of editor I have described. I tried 'collaborative editor' but that got shot down because it only happens in newspapers. The all encompassing 'editor' doesn't sit well.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Or simply use the same damn word processor everyone else is using! (You wonder why the rest of us don't use freeware writing tools.)


That wonder is easy - you like to keep paying Microsoft for new versions of a program that they keep breaking to force up their sales.

edit to add: Also, which version of MS Word, because they aren't compatible. In my collection of software I have the following versions of MS Word which aren't mutually compatible:

MS Word - it's DOS based only.
MS Word for Windows.
MS Word for Windows 2a
MS Word 6
MS Word 97 - compatible with MS Word 2000 and MS Word 2003
MS Word 2007 - mostly compatible with MS Word 2010 and MS Word 2013 - default file type is .docx

I don' have copies of the software for MS Word 2007 and later, although I have used them, but do have full copies of the software for everything else listed. There are other versions not listed which are compatible with the version just before or after it, but the above are the recognised major format code variations of the MS Word code. Each of these variation is not compatible with any version more than one out from it unless you have additional software loaded to allow for the compatibility. Often the later software will corrupt a file from an earlier version and won't save it properly as the earlier version. Yet Libre Office and Open Office can manage all these conversions tasks that Microsoft can't. From a coding perspective the different MS Word variants are totally different programs.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Zom
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

the girl the protagonist breaks up with at the end of the book

That's an interesting pattern you see there. I don't think it is rigorous though.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Or simply use the same damn word processor everyone else is using! (You wonder why the rest of us don't use freeware writing tools.)


I'm with Ernest on this one. I use Open Office on my home PC and Word at work.

1. Open source is not the samething as freeware.
2. There is not one function or tool in Word that doesn't exist in both Open Office(OO) and Libre Office(LO). Many of those tools actually work better and/or are easier to use in OO/LO than in Word.

Replies:   Zom
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

That wonder is easy - you like to keep paying Microsoft for new versions of a program that they keep breaking to force up their sales.


I'm with you, though to say they keep breaking it, kind implies that it worked properly at some point.

There are a number of very basic bug in the MS Office apps that MS has outright said they will never fix (broken leap year handling in Excel date handling* for example)

* MS Excel date functions treat all century years as leap years, but this is wrong, for a year evenly divisible by 100 to be a leap year it must be evenly divisible by 400. 1900 was not a leap year and 2100, 2200 and 2300 will not be leap years.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Dominions Son


I'm with you, though to say they keep breaking it, kind implies that it worked properly at some point.


It's not so much it worked great at one stage, as it worked well enough then they changed a bunch of the format and operational commands to make it incompatible with other versions of MS Windows and never included the code to allow it to be compatible with the earlier versions of MS Word - the same is true for all the MS Office products. The changes were deliberately introduced to force extra sales when people had to upgrade their software.

Zom
Updated:

@Dominions Son

There is not one function or tool in Word that doesn't exist in both Open Office(OO) and Libre Office(LO).

Sorry.

The following functions, including some that are very useful for collaborative writing are not supported:

View changes in the right margin in "track changes" mode.

Extended reading mode of documents.

Collapse and expand parts of a document.

Simultaneous editing of a document by multiple authors.

Instant messaging while collaborating on document.

Diagonal borders in tables.

Picture styles & additional effects.

Shortcut keys for accented Latin characters.

Live preview while formatting.

Inserting audio / video from online sources.

Import of graphics formats: MEZ, WMZ, PCZ, CGM.

Complex/rich text formatting in comments.

Document/text translation.

Decorative page borders.

Add watermarks to pages.

Horizontal split view of the same document.

Outline view.

Draft view.

At least, that is according to documentfoundation.org .

Dominions Son

@Zom

View changes in the right margin in "track changes" mode.


OO does change tracking and you can view the changes so what if it doesn't display them in the margin.

Replies:   Zom
Dominions Son

@Zom

Import of graphics formats: MEZ, WMZ, PCZ, CGM.


It supports import of graphics. Windows does not import a MEZ, There is a EMZ though and that might be what you meant.WMZ and EMZ are compressed MS specific formats. OO does suport the uncompressed versions.

Dominions Son

@Zom

Instant messaging while collaborating on document.


I don't buy the suggestion that MS Word actually supplies this functionality itself.

Dominions Son

@Zom

At least, that is according to documentfoundation.org .


Document Foundation controls the ODT file specification for file functions like multiple simultaneous editors and instant messaging you would have to check with http://www.openoffice.org/

Replies:   Zom
Dominions Son

@Zom


Add watermarks to pages.


OO supports watermarks.

Dominions Son

@Zom

Decorative page borders.


As a reader or writer I consider page borders in general a decorative borders in particular a distraction, not a useful function.

Replies:   richardshagrin
Dominions Son

@Zom

Inserting audio / video from online sources.


As far as I know Word doesn't do that either. OO does support hyperlinks.

Dominions Son

@Zom

Shortcut keys for accented Latin characters.


An application function outside of documentfoundation.org's purview

Ernest Bywater

@Zom

Sorry.


Please provide a link, because this looks like a enhancement request list of what people have asked be included and aren't not there yet. Putting in things people ask for is something they do at Libre Office but Microsoft never even consider.

You may want to check out the various comparisons listed here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_word_processors

So the 'track changes' is in a sub-window and not a side-bar , well duh - the window can be docked where you want it to be.

I have Print View and Web View, what else do you feel you need?

BTW the majority of these things you mention aren't in any standard version of MS Word I've used a lot in the past, so they aren't relevant. Also, many of these items aren't used by anyone either.

Dominions Son

@Zom

Document/text translation.


I wouldn't trust any translator built my MS you are better off using a live human or specialized software for this.

richardshagrin

@Dominions Son

I don't know what a page border is. Maybe a new character, Page Borders, likely a female? Maybe a surfer or skate boarder? Or lives in a boarding house? Or had something to do with Borders Book Stores when they were operational?

Replies:   Dominions Son  Zom
Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

don't know what a page border is. Maybe a new character, Page Borders, likely a female? Maybe a surfer or skate boarder? Or lives in a boarding house? Or had something to do with Borders Book Stores when they were operational?


Ask Zom, he's the one who brought them up.

Zom

@Dominions Son

OO does change tracking

Sorry, I thought you said Open Office AND Libre Office did everything. Can you say that Libre Office does this too?

Zom
Updated:

@richardshagrin

I don't know what a page border is.

I think it could be a shorter, younger male, wearing a white wig, living in a boarding house? But no, that is the wrong spelling. Perhaps he knows where he can't go and that is his border.

Zom

@Dominions Son

you would have to check with http://www.openoffice.org/

How would that help me with Libre Office?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Zom

Sorry, I thought you said Open Office AND Libre Office did everything. Can you say that Libre Office does this too?


Libre Office does change tracking, like any word processor you have to turn it on, but it opens in a sub-window and not as a sidebar.

Replies:   Zom
Ernest Bywater

@Zom

How would that help me with Libre Office?


this might help:

http://www.libreoffice.org/

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@Ernest Bywater

Libre Office does change tracking

Never said it didn't. I think it is probably the function 'View changes in the right margin in "track changes" mode' you are referring to.

My question is, does Libre Office 'View changes in the right margin in "track changes" mode'?

Replies:   Dominions Son
Zom

@Ernest Bywater

this might help:

EB - mate - why would I go looking?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer


I'm not sure I consider the SOL forum "Social Media"


I thought you said she was recommended by a LinkedIn forum, not SOL, but they're both media where people can make exaggerated claims about their qualifications and expertise.

I tracked her down on the internet. She seems to have a lot of strings to her bow. I even read a sample of the one available book she wrote. I can see why you'd want to use someone else for a final proofread. (Did I read that's what she actually recommended you to do?)

AJ

Ernest Bywater

@Zom

I don't know, you asked a question, and being the Asperger's Syndrome helpful and literal guy I am I gave an answer to the problem.

Replies:   Zom
Chris Podhola

@Crumbly Writer

I understood why you wrote the dialog the way that you did, which is why I called it information stuffing. When you write dialog, you have to put your character's motivations first. You can still provide information to your reader, but you have to learn to filter it through their needs, wants, and personality.

When writing or editing dialog, you must keep the motivations of each character in the forefront of your mind.

Chris Podhola
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


It doesn't result in additional errors, what the different formats do is highlight existing errors in different ways. The format make different things more noticeable because of the different presentations.


At the risk of offending you and in the spirit of frankness, when I read some of your most recent work, what put me off were the many easily spotted grammatical flaws. They were abundant. It is rare for me to be put off by grammatical flaws, but in this case, for some reason I couldn't get past them.

As far as your use of Libre Office goes. I wasn't trying to suggest that every author should use Word. I don't mind paying the ten bucks a month to have it. Not everyone feels the same, but I've used Libre and it's a good program. Nothing wrong with choosing it.

I do reject the idea that limiting yourself to your word processor to find flaws is an inferior method. I am confident that my finished products don't contain very many grammatical flaws. By the time my product reaches the public they are the exception and not the rule.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Zom

@Ernest Bywater

you asked a question

I did. But I think you answered the wrong question :-)

Dominions Son

@Zom

Can you say that Libre Office does this too?


As I haven't used it, I can't say from direct personal knowledge, but since it is a fork of Open Office, I would be very surprised if it didn't.

Dominions Son

@Zom

My question is, does Libre Office 'View changes in the right margin in "track changes" mode'?


Why is it important that they be displayed in the right margin as long as you can view the changes?

Personally, I don't consider "View changes in the right margin" a tool or function. The function is just "view changes", "in the right margin" is just a particular way of implementing that function.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Thus, when an author writes only in MS Word and uses only that, errors they don't see in Word will likely be more noticeable when the SOL Wizard converts their Word file to html for display in the browser.

I misinterpreted your previous comment to mean you were introducing formatting errors by sending files to editors using different tools. Instead you're saying errors are more obvious to readers than they are to authors. In that case, ignore my previous comments on the topic.

It's good to see some folk in this thread now qualifying editor types. But I don't know how to more appropriately qualify the type of editor I have described.

Zom, this gets a little confusing. "Editing" refers to all the different editing functions, and most editors perform all the roles, but as other editors have mentioned, once you put on a hat and review a story in one mode (say that of content editor), it's very difficult to change hats and perform another role adaquately (say changing over to a proofreader). That's why they suggest moving on to a different editor/proofreader to handle the other functions.

Ernest, the last version of M$ WORD to offer any new functionality was WORD 2003. They changed their document formats to .docx, but the only feature that enables is the ability to do 'mini-capitalization'. Since 2003, none of the WORD changes have added diddly to the ancient programs functionality while they removed (hid) many by introducing the obnoxious ribbon.

I use WORD 2010, but continue to use the older 2003 .doc format as (for a long time) it was more widely used than the newer file format.

But again, my mini-attack was based on a misinterpretation of your previous comment (about formatting issues).

DS, once again, my comments to EB about OpenOffice ("freeware") was based on my misunderstanding of his point. I'd thought he was complaining about formatting issues triggered by using OpenOffice. I rescind that comment now.

Import of graphics formats: MEZ, WMZ, PCZ, CGM.

Zom, when was the last time you've ever used one of these oddball graphic formats? I use .png (for my books) or .gif (for animation in forums), but that's the extent of my use of alternate formats (aside from my master .psd and .tif files).

I wouldn't trust any translator built my MS you are better off using a live human or specialized software for this.

DS, I'll use Google Translate, but only as a first pass. Once I've written the story, I'll go back (during my review process) and hire a someone to provide a native speaker translation using Fiver. Anyone expecting 20 year old M$ translator software is guaranteed to get crappy translation. I'd never include an automated translation in a published story! If you translate a sentence using them, and translate it back, it'll produce garbage, which only gets worse the more times you translate it.

EVERYONE, I think the whole WORD vs. OO vs. LO discussion is a non-starter. EB made a comment that I mistakenly jumped on, but it doesn't really affect writing or a writer's output in any way!

Replies:   Zom
Ernest Bywater

@Chris Podhola

what put me off were the many easily spotted grammatical flaws.


Now that is an interesting comment, because one of my editors is an English teacher and I always did advanced English. However, one of the things I have noticed is that there is a difference in what is acceptable grammar in some regional areas of the US to other parts of the US and the rest of the world, the most obvious variant of this is a tendency by some US authors from that region to over use commas and create sentence fragments they needed create.

There's also the fact that the grammar usage in past tense stories is sometimes a little different to present tense stories, and some people don't recognise that. However, whatever the cause is, there is also a possibility I made a mistake and I'll fix any I find or are reported to me, so please feel free to report any. That way I can either fix it if an error, or I can engage in a specific discussion as to why I don't think it's an error.

............

I don't limit myself to my word processor to find flaws, and I never said that. What I did say was that the different ways of presenting the product in different versions make different aspects stand out more than the other versions, and this explained why you can spot things in the html version the author missed in the word processor version they wrote the story on.

...........

Now, if you want to get into why I use Libre Office instead of Microsoft Word, that's a very different discussion to do with costs and the use of more effective software like Libre Office that's easier for me to use.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


There's also the fact that the grammar usage in past tense stories is sometimes a little different to present tense stories, and some people don't recognise that.


I guess the regional comma thing could be a possibility. Some of the things I noticed did have to do with comma usage. Others had to do with what I perceive as improper usage of semicolons. I will give a couple examples, so we can compare notes.

This taken from Interesting Times, Part 1, second paragraph (and after)(edited to add):

"Two more metres back are Candice and Bob, they're last because Bob paid the bill; he's putting his card in his wallet while he walks down the street."

This one, the semicolon is questionable, but it is possible that it is correct. I can see how the content after the semicolon could possibly need connection to the preceding sentence. This followed immediately after:

"Hearing a siren coming their way they all turn to give a glance back at the street the restaurant faces."

The rule of thought that I follow for this sentence is that independent clauses should be separated by a comma. I would have written it this way:

Hearing a siren coming their way(,) they all turn to give a glance back at the street the restaurant faces.

The same for this one:

Picking up Mary(,) he holds her to his chest

The next one (in my opinion) should be separated by a period and not a comma, or possibly a semicolon:

However he did it, it's a critical action

And this one, again a comma (in my opinion):

Instead of squashing her against the minivan with his larger body(,) he's now her cushion.

More semicolon issues:

Joe tells him what happened; he signs it a moment later

He doesn't care about the driver - not a bit; he already knows Bob and Candice are dead.

In my opinion these last two are separate sentences and should be broken by periods and not semicolons.

I would be curious to know if you will try to justify not using commas between the independent clauses, because I see many other places within this opening that have independent clauses separated by commas. If the rules you follow are different, how does one determine which independent clauses are not separated by commas and which independent clauses are?

As far as the Libre versus Word thing goes, I am not interested in debating which is better. To me, it is a matter of personal preferences and a person is and should be allowed to make that judgement for themselves. Like I said previously, I have used Libre Office myself in the past and liked it just fine. I thought it was a wonderful program. I choose to go with word, because I experience less issues when uploading to various platforms than I did using Libre. It is still a very fine program, however. I will point out that Libre does maintain it's costs through donations and (in my opinion) if you are an avid user of the program for professional purposes, you should be making regular contributions to support the continued updates of Libre.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Chris Podhola

Some of the things I noticed did have to do with comma usage. Others had to do with what I perceive as improper usage of semicolons.


In each case above the semi-colons are used correctly to join what could be two short sentences into a complex sentence and link them closer together without using words like and, because etc.. In the first draft I had two of the examples as separate sentences and extra words in them, but two editors (at that time I had three editors) pointed out they read better as a complex sentence the way they are now. In the one about the driver I could've used either a comma or a semi-colon, but the semi-colon means I don't have to use a word like because to join them together into a complex sentence.

The commas you list are the regional thing I mentioned before about unnecessarily fragmenting a sentence. In the siren example no comma is needed because their turning is in direct response to hearing the siren, putting in a comma makes the sentence look like that old See Spot reader with over short sentences.
...............
I agree using Word or Libre Office is a personal preference, but some of the other posts on the issue were saying Libre Office is an inferior product, when that's not the case. Both do what the people using them want them to do, and that's all that's really important. And yes, I do contribute to Libre Office; and it's a lot cheaper than being forced to buy new software because I updated the OS.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

Well, I think there is room for interpretation on the semicolon usages. I can see your point there, but I think we'll have to agree to disagree on the comma issues. I see them as introductory elements which require commas. I guess this must be the regional difference you eluded to.

And I don't necessarily see Libre as an inferior product. I don't mind paying Microsoft seven dollars a month to use their product. Whenever they update, I automatically get the newest version available if I want it. To me, that's a reasonable amount of money to pay for product that I consider to be very good.

Zom

@Crumbly Writer

when was the last time you've ever used one of these oddball graphic formats?

It doesn't matter. DS made a all encompassing statement about the efficacy of OO and LO compared to MO. While I don't promote MO, I do use it (along with OO), and the statement made didn't seem to have the veracity I would expect, so I checked. It didn't and I called it.

I get peeved when folk make definitive statements about stuff, to a public audience, that aren't true. That's all.

If DS had qualified his cast iron statement in the first place instead of making qualifications in his responses then no foul, and no response from me.

Zen Master

@Crumbly Writer

CW, before this thread gets COMPLETELY lost in the religious war over word processors, I'd like to thank you for sharing this experience with us all. I've learned a lot of stuff here about writing, editing, and proofreading. I don't expect to learn anything at all from the word processor argument.
And you really did all that in church? I never get anything done there!

sejintenej

@Zen Master

whipping out my trusty Glock 9mm while rolling in the dirt and shooting the bad guy, and my editor changes that to whipping out my trusty Enfield .303 and shooting the bad guy,

He must consider you an idiot. IF he has to change it change it to a hand gun.

several fighting and hunting knives but I don't hack with them. They are for fighting with. If you don't know the difference, why did you change from one to the other?


If he has to use it then over here the kukri is better know. IMHO I would use the machete to break through vegetation, not the bowie

Someone mentioned "macaroons" (macarons if you please) I would hardly call them cookies because they cost $1,50 each take several hours to make - very different to a mass produced cookie (that it between the lady's legs) or a biscuit. The correct word would be entremets so he would be better advised to askyopu to replace "macarooms"

Zom
Updated:

@Zen Master


religious war over word processors


My war is over accuracy and reason, and bombast, not word processors. My anality can't repeatedly ignore fluff or bluster dressed up as fact, whatever the subject. Sorry.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Zen Master

And you really did all that in church? I never get anything done there!

Typically, my best thoughts are when I let my thoughts stop and allow my mind to drift. Most of my best story ideas are formed while I'm lying in bed, awaiting sleep, thinking about the next chapter. But my biggest insights come when I least expect it. Walks along the beach/park help, but there you're focusing on everything around you, rather than simply letting you mind go into 'quiet mode'.

sejintenej, the issue with the macaroons (however you spell it), is that the editor changed the American cookie into a British biscuit, without regard to the setting of the book. It implies she's not very attentive to details and context.

However, it's a seasonal Jewish treat, which is why they cost more. They're only make small volumes once a year (any others you buy are leftovers from Hanukkah). There are also strict dietary and manufacturing restrictions that require approval by a rabbi, which also adds to the costs.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

it's a seasonal Jewish treat, which is why they cost more. They're only make small volumes once a year (any others you buy are leftovers from Hanukkah).


It's Passover, not Hanukkah. Passover is around Easter; Hanukkah around Christmas.

You can't eat leavened bread on Passover (you eat matzo) and macaroons have no flour or leavening.

They're delicious, especially the chocolate ones.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
sejintenej

@Crumbly Writer

However, it's a seasonal Jewish treat, which is why they cost more. They're only make small volumes once a year (any others you buy are leftovers from Hanukkah). There are also strict dietary and manufacturing restrictions that require approval by a rabbi, which also adds to the costs.

I wonder if we are talking about two different things. European macarons fit with the rules set out by Swytch Blade but are available year round even in McDonalds burger bars, I have two specialised recipe books which do not mention any religious connection and there are people like Ferrero Rocher and Pierre Hermé (qv) who are famous for them but whether they have the specialist religious oversee I doubt.
I use egg whites, icing (confectioner's ?) sugar, ground almonds (I hear that other ground nuts can be used), sometimes colourants and taste additives like cocoa powder plus the ganache fillings. The moulds are freely available in France and starting to be in UK shops.

Dominions Son

@sejintenej

I can't speak to the accuracy, but Wikipedia has this on macaroons

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macaroon

Culinary historians claim that macaroons can be traced to an Italian monastery of the 9th century. The monks came to France in 1533, joined by the pastry chefs of Catherine de Medici, wife of King Henri II. Later, two Benedictine nuns, Sister Marguerite and Sister Marie-Elisabeth, came to Nancy seeking asylum during the French Revolution. The two women paid for their housing by baking and selling macaroon cookies, and thus became known as the "Macaroon Sisters".[4]

Italian Jews later adopted the cookie because it has no flour or leavening (macaroons are leavened by egg whites) and can be enjoyed during the eight-day observation of Passover. It was introduced to other European Jews and became popular as a year-round sweet.[4]

Ernest Bywater

@sejintenej

I wonder if we are talking about two different things.


No, same thing. The wikipedia article mentions it as a common biscuit treat for Italians, French, English and many others, but it's also a very common treat during the Jewish Passover because it's unleavened and at that time they have to eat unleavened bread - most of which isn't sweet while the macaroon is and thus a welcome change.

Switch Blayde

I was able to read the PDF versions.

I like the after one better, the one beginning with, "Councilman Adrian Adams rushed up the steep steps to the carefully maintained brownstone and
slammed the heavy oak door behind him, blocking out the howling wind and icy sleet."

I don't like all the changes, but it reads better to me.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

They're [macaroons] delicious, especially the chocolate ones.

Growing up in New York, I ate a lot of them over the years (there's always been a strong Jewish community in New York City), but I always preferred the coconut ones.

The macaroons and the bowie knife are both references to the family's wealth and background (possibly Jewish, long-time residents of Manhattan, wealthy and fond of ostentatious displays of wealth).

I like the after one better, the one beginning with, "Councilman Adrian Adams rushed up the steep steps to the carefully maintained brownstone and
slammed the heavy oak door behind him, blocking out the howling wind and icy sleet."

I don't like all the changes, but it reads better to me.

Well, you seem to be the exception, Switch. Everyone else thinks she stripped my influence out of the story and robbed it of its distinctive voice and the interesting character details. I thought it make it as easier read, like you, but on subsequent reflection, I decided I preferred it simply because it was fresh (we all get exhausted reading the same passages over and over during the editing process). Instead of seeing something foreign, I saw something fresh and a joy to read (rather than the chore reading the exact same passage again becomes).

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

I always preferred the coconut ones.


They're all coconut. The chocolate ones are coconut with chocolate in it.

And I see this is where I replied to the two versions. I just replied again in another thread; the one where you said you sent me the PDF files via email.

I'm not familiar with your writing voice, but I thought cutting the stuff she cut made it stronger. Since there was a lot of action and suspense, the extra information you provided slowed it down.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I'm not familiar with your writing voice, but I thought cutting the stuff she cut made it stronger. Since there was a lot of action and suspense, the extra information you provided slowed it down.

Still, I think there's a happy compromise, where I retain more personal detail without losing readers. If I can figure out how to recount personal details without droning on, it would help. The initial scene is an excellent case in point. Much of the action and pointless dialogue (shaking his umbrella, curing the cabbie and talking about work) didn't really add to the story. We get that he's rich and privileged, I don't need to beat the reader over the head with the information. You need enough detail to make the story seem real, but not enough to slow down the telling. That line, however, can be a tricky one to pin down.

Bondi Beach

@Zen Master

CW, before this thread gets COMPLETELY lost in the religious war over word processors, I'd like to thank you for sharing this experience with us all. I've learned a lot of stuff here about writing, editing, and proofreading. I don't expect to learn anything at all from the word processor argument.
And you really did all that in church? I never get anything done there!


I wrote (notebook and pen) an entire sex scene during the sermon a couple of years ago. (It was a very liberal church, if that makes any difference.) As CW points out, it's best when you let your mind go, and that happened to me frequently in church.

bb

Bondi Beach

@Zen Master

CW, before this thread gets COMPLETELY lost in the religious war over word processors, I'd like to thank you for sharing this experience with us all. I've learned a lot of stuff here about writing, editing, and proofreading. I don't expect to learn anything at all from the word processor argument.
And you really did all that in church? I never get anything done there!


I wrote (notebook and pen) an entire sex scene during the sermon a couple of years ago. (It was a very liberal church, if that makes any difference.) As CW points out, it's best when you let your mind go, and that happened to me frequently in church.

bb

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Bondi Beach

I wrote (notebook and pen) an entire sex scene during the sermon a couple of years ago. (It was a very liberal church, if that makes any difference.)

And it was so good, he wrote it twice (during the same service, I assume).

I just have to ask, when you refer to a 'very liberal church', it wouldn't be a UU service, would it? There are other liberal churches in the world, but few religious organizations are as liberal across the board. (That's the one I attend as an atheist, since I like searching for deeper meanings in life.)

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