As a writer, sooner or later your editor will let you down!

the-editor

They’re not pefect despite what they may say…

Face it, some editors only really care about how much money you are paying them. It is not until you become a writer yourself that you not only notice the errors that editors miss in any given book, but also how many there are. I’m not just talking about incorrect spelling, but the use of totally wrong words; things like missed spaces between a fullstop (period) and the capital letter of the next sentence, as well as either a lack of punctuation or far too much of it.

Let us also remember that some editors see nothing wrong with a book’s pages becoming nothing more than solid blocks of text with no break to make it easier to read. To give you another example, some editors in cahoots with certain publishers plead the old chestnut ‘house style’ as their excuse to cover a multitude of sins, like which type of quotation marks they prefer – single, or double.

It matters little that the book you are reading was self-published, or produced by a small press or one of the traditional big five publishers. More and more these days, with each book I pick up, I’m finding errors, which any editor worth their salt should have picked up on long before it went to print. If they were threatened with the sack, or were told they would not be paid for allowing those annoying mistakes to slip by, maybe all editors would be more vigilant! Heh, a chance would be a fine thing. Or in other words, don’t hold your breath…

Before any of you reading this while professing to be an editor has an attack of apoplectic rage brought on by what I’ve just said, if you are truthful, you know deep down that in all likelihood you have never ever turned in a totally error free manuscript for publication in your entire working life, due to time and business constraints. That being the case, the editor’s credo should be more haste, less speed. Maybe you need to stop thinking about how many other writers are waiting for your services, along with how much money you charge and concentrate on presenting a quality product for publication instead. Just a thought…

Why am I bringing this to your attention as editors and writers? Simple. When a member of the general public reads and reviews a book, their opinion (which is all any review is when you think about it) won’t necessarily be about its content or subject matter. More than likely these days what it will be about are the mistakes the reader found, or thought they had.

For instance – quite often anyone who is not an American writer will be taken to task for what some Americans see as misspelt words. To them I will only say this – apart from American English (which bares little or no resemblance to the original – English English), there is also Canadian, South African, New Zealand, Australian and Indian English. To my knowledge they are the main branches of the language. Each form of the language tends to spell some words differently.

Getting back to the general public – will they blame the publisher for any mistakes found in any given book? No. To the average reader, publishers and their editors don’t make mistakes, which of course is total baloney! They’re human just like the rest of us, despite believing they are a cut above humanity in general!!!

Instead you will find that to the reader’s way of thinking, the fault lies wholly with the writer. Once again many readers cannot seem to appreciate that all you did was write the story, employing someone to edit it for you. If you as the writer are to be blamed for anything, it’s thinking that once you have written the manuscript – that’s it, job done. Wrong! Never let your editor get away with too much by not picking them up on those inevitable mistakes. Like you they’re not infallible. Between the two of you, errors should be eliminated.

Here’s a thought – if you want to improve your image as a writer, learn to edit. While your at it, employ beta or copy readers. Personally I do both. With each book I write, the number of errors has dramatically reduced. For instance, my novella Cataclysm, written last year, literally only has one very minor error – a space between quotation marks and the first letter of the first word in a sentence. If I can do my level best to eliminate all errors as a self-published writer, so can the editor you are employing.

Am I going to fix it? No. That way the author hating internet trolls, grammar nazis, literary snobs, and other assorted self proclaimed experts such as pedants and armchair critics will still be able to appear smug when writing their inevitable caustic reviews of it. You just can’t please people like that. So don’t even try. Don’t be put off over attempting to edit. It’s not that difficult. Like anything else, all it takes is time, patience and application, as well as a damned good command of the English language.

Remember this – It doesn’t matter what we do as writers, if we make use of professional support and it is less than satisfactory, we’re sunk!

😉

Of Words And Other Things

woodchuck

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck
If a woodchuck could chuck wood?
As much wood as a woodchuck could chuck,
If a woodchuck could chuck wood.

If you are of a certain age, chances are that you learnt that tongue twister in primary school, just as I did back in the nineteen-fifties. It is a perfect example of the overuse of specific words, even though in this case it’s just a fun thing for kids to learn and to attempt to recite.

Many emerging writers tend to rely on a limited vocabulary, even though most words have perfectly acceptable alternatives. How many times have you seen specific words endlessly repeated in the first book written by a new writer? Either that, or their incorrect versions.

Chances are you will come across examples of words when writing, which while sounding similar when used in actual conversation between two people, are completely wrong in a given instance within any piece of writing.

Note to self – hmm, a lot of words beginning with ‘w’ in that last sentence. Must watch that. Damn, there’s another one!

If you want an example of similar sounding words think about there, they’re and their. They all sound exactly alike. But in each instance they have a totally different meaning. Even simple words we all use such as and, can and do become seriously overused by most writers. I’m no different in that regard. I’ve even been known to start a sentence with it on occasion, for example the one word question – “And?” But only during a conversation between some of my characters.

What I’m about to say, I’ve said in previous posts here on my blog. But just for you, here it is again – once you have written that first draft, go back over it many times during its edit phase. Make sure that one of your editing sessions is solely dedicated to deliberately finding alternatives of those words you are so fond of using.

How? Use the synonym function incorporated into your writing software in conjunction with a dictionary and thesaurus. Even better, why not rewrite certain sentences using completely different words, that convey the same meaning as the original one?

Before some of you feel an attack of righteous indignation coming on, and are thinking of going on the offensive, I am fully aware that I have used several words in this post more than once. In this instance I am completely justified as I’m merely pointing out that every one of us needs to pay heed to the way we write.

In short folks, do your darndest to avoid using certain words too often. Damn, there are two more – your and you’re, to and too. Allowed is yet another example of a word that sounds the same when spoken even when spelt differently. Its cousin aloud has a completely different meaning. The list is endless. Is it any wonder that so many people find the English language hard to come to grips with?

***

Next, I would just like to point out something to all of the various types of literary cowards who insist upon hiding behind pseudonyms, such as a number of the armchair critics, pedants, grammar nazis, literary snobs etc, who inhabit the darker recesses of the Internet, each of them purporting to know far more about the written word than most writers. None of us likes a smart arse who deliberately sets him or herself up as a critic.

To all of the above – I can only surmise that what you appear to be suffering from is the literary equivalent of penis envy. Remember this, apart from being counterproductive, jealousy tends to feed on itself. Never forget that. It’s the only reason I can think of for why you deem it absolutely necessary to be so vicious towards not only the newcomers, but also seasoned writers, whether Indie or traditionally published?

First of all, may I suggest that you get over yourselves. Secondly, instead of endlessly criticising new and seasoned writers, by issuing those interminably boring, often repetitious one and two star reviews you are so fond of placing in the public arena, in your pathetic attempts to destroy a writer’s reputation, as some of you still tend to do on Goodreads and Amazon (you know who you are), why not actually try to write a book yourself. Maybe you already have, which probably accounts for the way you behave. But go on, give it another try. Far better to occupy your time by writing a book. Once you do, prepare yourselves for when it is torn to shreds by your fellow trolls. In other words, I’d think long and hard if I were you before you feel the overwhelming desire coming on, to rubbish someone else’s work.

Like most writers, I always refrain from reviewing some books, especially those written by new writers, if they did not succeed in gaining my full attention by drawing me into the story. Believe me when I say that it’s always better to do that, rather than to publically condemn, and by definition, earn yourself a reputation as yet another vicious troll. If I ever feel the need to offer criticism, its usually in the form of advice done privately, well away from the gaze of the general public, either by email or when chatting to writers on Facebook.

You should try doing the same…

Well that’s enough for today. It’s back to my current W.I.P.

😉

More on the misuse of words

new_yorker_fewer_cartoon

I know I have posted about this subject on more than occasion. But if you write for a living as I do, the correct use of words is your stock in trade. If you are a normal person who loves their language, like me you must feel that misusing words is totally abhorrent.

On previous occasions certain deluded individuals (mainly young adults) after reading my other posts on the subject have all cried – English is a living language. Get over yourself! I partially agree with them, it is living. Were it dead we would no longer use it now would we.

It still does not excuse certain individuals within the public eye from abusing my mother tongue. Take the word so for instance. When did the rules of speech change, making it acceptable for its use as the first word in nearly every sentence they utter? Whenever I hear academics or other professional people being interviewed on television or on the radio, who start each sentence with so, quite frankly I cringe in horror.

Presumably they had to employ the correct use of the English language when writing their dissertations and doctoral thesis? In which case why misuse my language in public? The same applies to celebrities and other individuals who the younger generation tend to regard as role-models. Recently I was watching a programme on television concerning a young television presenter’s family background. Literally every sentence she uttered contained the word like, not once but at least six times, certainly no less. If such people feel that for the sake of their careers they must maintain their popularity with the younger generation, at least use my native language correctly for goodness sake.

It’s one thing when vulgar speech is used on the streets – by vulgar I do not mean rude. In fact, given the low intelligence level of certain individuals within society, it is completely understandable. But when professionals and celebrities dumb down to appear ‘cool’ it very definitely is not acceptable by any stretch of the imagination! Don’t get me wrong here people, not every professional or celebrity engages in it. But the numbers are increasing.

To give you two examples of the current vernacular here in England, I direct you to the phrase “do you know what I mean” which has degenerated into No wot I mean. The second example is “isn’t it” which has also been given the common treatment. In its case it has become Innit. God forbid that vernacular should become acceptable in any novel of the future. We all use varying degrees of vernacular on a daily basis when talking with family and friends. But when it comes to writing, apart from the gutter press, it is a big non no people!

Yes there are differing types of English, mainly concerning local spelling, depending on the country in which it is used. America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa all have their own variation.

But that is still no excuse for misusing words. So, like, no wot I mean? Don’t do it please – innit