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


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!


Why do I write the way I do?

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God save us from all pedants and others of their ilk!

If you are the kind of reader who desperately needs to have every nuance, action and reaction explained to you through endless nauseating dialogue like a small child, then clearly my style of writing is not for you. I write in such a way as to make you ask yourself questions throughout the story.

When Onet’s Tale (the only one of my books not to be self-published) appeared in the market, my pedantic editor at the time insisted that it must have a Dramatis Personae at the front of the book before the first page of text despite my strong objections. He claimed that without it the reader would be confused. For those among you who have no idea what that is, it’s a list of characters, their names, their origins etc.

Apparently that was not the case. From the feedback I’ve received from many of the almost two hundred people who bought and read it, with one or two exceptions (aren’t there always at least a couple, eager to pounce) you weren’t the least bit interested in the list at the beginning of the novel. Like most normal intelligent readers, as and when I introduced you to each character you simply accepted who they were and merely got on with reading the story.

Personally I prefer to write thought provoking stories, designed not only to entertain but to make the reader use the brain they were given. My style comes from a lifetime of reading the same kind of books by writers such as Arthur C. Clark and Isaac Asimov. If you merely want to coast for a couple of hours in the evening with a book in your hands pretending to read simply to impress, there are literally millions of trashy novels out there.

The first science fiction novel I ever wrote was Turning Point. It was written in the same way as its severely hampered sequel Onet’s Tale. When I broke with the publisher and went solo, I sent Turning Point off to a few fellow writers to read through. Needless to say, thanks to the pedants, I had various points within the story thrown back at me, to which I simply replied – “wait until you have read it through to the end before you make your observations. My stories should never be scanned (speed read). They need to be read thoroughly several times, not just once then discarded.”

Neither of the two books in question can be described as mere mindless entertainment; nor are they sex laden pot boilers like a certain terrible book of recent times – Fifty Shades of Grey. If you want endless dialogue, gratuitous sex and violence between characters then I’m sorry but when it comes to science fiction, I don’t write that way. Come to that none of my recent works are crammed full of any of the above either.

For those among you who absolutely insist on the show don’t tell rule in any book you read, you will be disappointed by my work. It is not a hard and fast rule even though many writers and editors insist it must be adhered to today. Just perusing the books in my own library, most of the more well-known titles I own, written by prominent writers like Asimov and Clark, completely disregard the rule in fact.

Lastly – I write using the original version of the English language. I do not write in American, Australian, New Zealand, South African or any other version of English. Why do I mention this fact? Simply because of one totally misguided review for Turning Point from an American pedant, who accused me of endless spelling errors throughout the story. I would argue that his particular version of my native language is chock full of spelling errors like mom and gotten to name but two in common use when viewed by anyone outside the continental USA, especially here in the UK, the home of the language.

Simply put, my sale’s figures in the thousands bear me out. It’s not often a writer can say I am right and the pedants are wrong…