Why, hello dear readers of Avalon’s blog! Pleasure to meet you, I’m Kendall, Avalon’s humble editor friend.
I’ve edited a few of her projects over the last few years, including the wonderful Adventures of Captain Acorn. My background includes a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and a few academic publications under my belt. I’ve never truly identified as a writer but I’m always ready to give a whack at any piece of writing a friend or colleague threw at my inbox. There’s just something great about seeing someone else’s work and helping them make it just a bit clearer, cleaner, or consistent.
In the spirit of the fantastic world of writing and publishing, here are a few things the editor of your writing project wants you to know.
Avalon is definitely going to chuckle at the primary item on this list. Mostly because I have strong-armed her into constructing outlines before, much to her dismay.
Hear me out. While you might not be the author who needs to develop an outline before constructing a fabulous first draft, it’s a hellish thing for an editor to feel like she’s on a blind adventure during her first round of edits.
Outlines assist editors by giving them a pathway through your draft. Whether it’s just chapter titles, or more detailed explanation of the structure, they give the editor an idea of how they should be editing from the beginning. They can look forward and see that something will be resolved, a question will be answered, or there’s definitely a plot hole that needs fixing ASAP.
The more information you can give your editor ahead of time, the better! Ask your editor how much information they’d like before even sending over your draft and they will thank you a million times over. (It also makes the editing time go much faster.)
Oooh boy, is this a favorite one of many editors in almost every realm of publishing. However, it’s especially important in fiction.
This might seem like a dumb tip, but spell check your character names, fictitious locations, references to the climactic scene/plot twists, and more. Fixing these can feel rather moronic to editors because, well, the author should know how to spell their fictitious creations consistently.
If you have a nice one, they probably won’t bring it up but might leave you a note on your Google Doc that says something along the lines of, “Um, hate to be a nag, but you misspelled your own lead character’s name. Again.”
Don’t be that author! Instead, to keep up with all of the places and names you’re creating, make a master doc that looks similar to the first few pages of a theater script. You can find templates of those here. This is also an incredibly thoughtful and productive extra step to do for your editor. You can thank me later.
Know What Editing Results You’re Looking For — And Ask for Them!
Ask questions. Ask LOADS of questions!
There are several different styles of editing, and you probably have a good idea of what you’re looking for when you forward your manuscript to an editor. Here are a couple of things you might want to get out of having an editor comb through your draft:
· Structural edits
· Grammar edits
· Consistency edits
· Plot direction edits
Get on the same page as your editor from the get-go and tell them what you want to see when they send it back to you. You’re probably going to have to send it back and forth a few times, but having a clear vision before you start is always a lifesaver — especially if you’re on a time crunch.
Question the Edits You Don’t Understand
Along the same lines as the last tip, communicate when you don’t understand edits or questions she poses in the edit. It’s okay if you don’t like something she changed or deleted or switched out or questioned.
The draft is your baby, and editors get that. But be open to asking questions when you see an edit you didn’t understand or like — clarifying might help you comprehend where they are coming from and how it might let your reader have a better experience. After all, editors are often your first readers!
Easy Edits to Do Yourself
Wait. Isn’t that your editor’s job?
I mean yeah, sure, if you want to finish your book in 2028. Cleaning up your draft as you go along is a smart tactic for authors because it helps you:
· Keep consistent plotlines
· See which words they overuse
· Spot repeated mistakes
· Get new ideas for future drafts
Here are a few quick self-editing tips and tools before you send it off to an editor:
· Watch out for p(l)ot holes!
· Show, don’t tell. Dialogue is a great way to do this.
· Boring repetitive words are the worst. Avalon’s favorite is “very.” Use a thesaurus to go back through and diversify your word choice.
· Save yourself some time and download Grammarly. If you can afford it, the premium version is DEFINITELY WORTH IT. Sorry. Can’t emphasize that enough.
Bonus tip: Edit as you go along, every few thousand words.
If I could make a sticker that said, “Editors are champions of good stories,” I would. Maybe I will!
Editors want you to have a successful draft that tells the story you set out to write. Communication and consistency make for happy editors, and happy editors help publish great books.
Avalon wrote a fantastic post about what to do with edits once you’ve received them from your editor last month. Check it out here!