Happy Weekend, WG2E-Land!
It’s time for our next Ruth Harris Report…Part Two in her Series on Editors and Editing.
You can catch the first part of this fabulous and informative series right here:
Take it away, Ruth…
In an effort to clarify some of the confusions about various kinds of editing & the writer-editor relationship, I’ve asked our editors to talk about genre-specific editing, choosing an editor and the ins and outs of plot/character/story structure edits
How can plot/character/story structure edits improve a manuscript?
Meghan Ward: Often writers spend so much time focusing on the minutiae of each chapter—writing beautiful descriptions and realistic dialogue and perhaps even compelling story arcs within each chapter, but they forget about the big picture. Their protagonist doesn’t have a clear goal, she has no obstacles to overcome, and each dramatic scene carries the same weight.
These flaws can be the death of a beautifully written book by a talented writer. An editor can resurrect that book from the dead and give it a new life.
Matt, the Edit Dude: An editor can help an author maintain good pacing and make sure that the story doesn’t get off track or spend time on extraneous events that don’t move the story along.
Your editor will also help by making sure that characters’ voices remain consistent throughout and their actions remain consistent with their voice and character.
Sherrie Holmes: Plot/character/story structure edits can mean the difference between a manuscript that sells and one that garners an endless round of rejections. Who wants to read a book where the plotting is full of holes or the characters are unlikeable?
Who wants to read a mystery where the clues are unbelievable, too predictable, or nonexistent? Who wants to read a romance where the hero and heroine don’t meet until chapter fifteen? Who wants to read an action/adventure where the protagonist can see the Pacific ocean from the front porch of his Montana mountain cabin?
Absurd? Yes. But these are examples of the things that have appeared in client manuscripts. Whether you’re aiming for a traditional print publisher or e-publisher, they want to see a polished manuscript that is not only a good read but professional in appearance and content. If you expect to break into publishing, you aren’t competing against other unpublished writers. You’re competing against published writers.
Do you specialize in any particular genre(s)?
Jodie Renner: Yes, I specialize in editing thrillers, romantic suspense, mysteries and other crime fiction. I also occasionally edit YA, historical fiction or mainstream that interests me.
Sherrie Holmes: I work in all genres, but my specialty is romance.
Matt, The Edit Dude: Not really. I generally stick with fiction, but I’m willing to look at any type of manuscript.
Meghan Ward: I specialize in memoir, but I spend at least 50 percent of my time editing novels and nonfiction books as well.
How should an author go about selecting an editor?
Sherrie Holmes: Before deciding on an editor, I’d like to suggest the writer join a good critique group, first. Most writers benefit enormously from quality critiques which can eliminate many manuscript problems before they go searching for an editor. This in turn saves the writer money and the editor’s sanity. It also helps the writer understand the process of getting edited and critiqued, and helps them develop a thick hide.
My best advice for finding a good editor is to ask your writer friends for recommendations. Then go to the Preditors and Editors Web site at http://pred-ed.com/ and check to see if there are any complaints against the editor you’ve chosen. This site also has a ton of writing-related links and useful editorial information.
Matt, The Edit Dude: I would ask potential editors if they could put them in touch with any clients they have worked with. I have found that an editor is generally in fairly close contact with a writer while working on a manuscript. An editor should have at least a few authors who have enjoyed their work and are willing to speak with other authors about their experience.
Meghan Ward: The best way to find an editor is through referrals. But if no one you know has worked with an editor they were happy with and who charges a reasonable fee, writers can find many wonderful editors online. Just be sure to check their credentials and ask for either a sample edit or references.
Jodie Renner: First, be sure they not only edit fiction, but also read and edit your genre. Visit their websites and check out their credentials and experience, and read about their process and editorial services offered. Ask the editors for references from former or current clients or check the testimonials on their website and consider contacting some of the authors who have written reviews there.
You can find out more about our editors at their websites—
Next time I’ll ask our talented editors about their policies toward sample edits & how best to use sample edits to choose an editor. I’ll also ask them what happens when a writer disagrees with their edits.
Until then, I want to thank our editors for their time and for sharing their expertise.
It’s Your Turn, WG2E-Land: What questions do you have for our fabulous Editor Panel?
The Best of WG2E Editor Wishes — Ruth Harris
NYTimes Bestselling Author