As a avid reader and book lover, as well as an active editor, I have great respect for the creative effort of those who are able to express themselves well as they inform, amuse, thrill, and generally entertain me.
In the course of my work, I usually tend to proofread, edit, and correct mistakes that I find. However, mellow old farts like me tend to be in the minority in the literary world. In talking with colleagues, there are things that writers do which bother us all. Writers should beware of becoming lazy and careless, lest from excellent work over which they labored be rejected because of simple and easily remedied errors.
These are just a few of the pet peeves editors have with authors’ works:
Stifling Your MuseIn poring over some authors’ fiction works, I am struck by what starts as a good premise degenerates into more of a essay or a report. Rules of writing are meant to help one express themselves clearly. They are not meant to inhibit or curtail authors’ imagination. Take a deep breath, dare to dream, and write from your soul. Does what you have written make you excited, sad, amused, or hot? If so, chances are that enthusiasm will be communicated to and felt by your reader.
Point of ViewAre you really sure who is telling your story? If you are writing in the first person, remember that you cannot get inside of the head of other characters. In you are writing in the third person be careful of too many shifting, conflicting, and confusing points of view. While showing different characters thoughts and feelings it’s a good thing, especially with a smooth and logical transition, you don’t want to have your reader dizzy and disoriented from constantly switching back and forth.
Ignoring the RulesNot heeding rules of grammar and punctuation can be a fatal with some editors and publishers. If your not sure, look it up. It matters. Literary license is one thing. Laziness is inexcusable. Fragmented or one word sentences for dramatic emphasis and effect are acceptable, provided they are not a recurring element. Otherwise, their use shout that the author has no grasp of basic writing skills, or respect for the reader.
Too Many SubplotsSubplots can help generate suspense and add depth to a story. Too many of them however, merely leave a reader wondering what the heck is going on and why.
Yawn TimeToo much description and explanation, in lieu of action related to the plot, can bring a good story down in a hurry. Readers don’t really need to know every detail about every minor character. Don’t do it.
There is a reason for a rough draft. While you should not edit and correct when you are first writing your story and letting your creative juices flow, do take time later to go over your work and ensure it’s the best it can be.
Contributing friend this week is T.C. Worthington. T.C. is Editor-in-Chief of Southern Desires Publishing. He lives with his dog Barney, smoke cheap cigars, drinks good bourbon, and enjoys fishing.