Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pre-editing Part One

Before I started the editing process with my editor at Samhain, she sent me a pre-editing guide of common mistakes. I thought over the next couple of weeks, I would share with you some of them because getting published is difficult enough. Why make it any easier for them to reject you?

1. Numbers within the manuscript should be spelled out. This includes chapter headings.

2. Garbage words: so, that, then, and then, just, really. These tend to get overused. I know I have to keep an eye out for just, I seem to like it a lot.

3. Watch for multiple as, and, then, and while phases in a sentence.

As Jack turned away, Judy frowned, folding her arms across her chest and watched him move across the room as if he were mad at her while she could think of nothing to have drawn his anger.

A sentence like that has too many actions happening simultaneously; therefore, they lose impact on the reader.

4. This leads to one of my favorites, the simultaneous action.

Walking across the room, Jack opened the door and drove downtown.

You might see this quite often, especially in much older romances, it is a big no-no.

5. The use of he's and she's: when you have more than one person of the same sex, you need to be really careful it is obvious of whom you are speaking. The last person mentioned is the one who gets the pronoun attributed to them. If you have more than two individuals, you should probably stick to using their names.

Well, there are a few. Next week, dialogue tags, redundant actions, and the dreaded wandering body parts.


Rosalie Stanton said...

I suppose the pre-edits checklist is more common than I thought. Lyrical provides one as well, as does Noble (or so I've heard). It is an extraordinarily good guide for those looking to perform repeat submissions to the same house. Likewise, all the advice you provided here was very sound.

Thanks for sharing, Madelyn!

Sabrina Shields said...

Still really good advice for us newbies!

Madelyn Ford said...


I don't know if the list is something my editor put together or a Samhain thing but I really wish I'd had one before I'd ever begun the subbing process. Rules have changed since I was in school. And while my editor at LI taught me how to avoid most of them (have I mentioned how much I love my LI editor, lol), those damn simultaneous actions still get me sometimes. I find myself inspecting every sentence as I'm writing it looking for flaws. Makes it kind of difficult to write :)


Thanks for commenting. And that's we're all hoping to accomplish with this blog, to make things easier for newbies. The whole process, from writing the ms to editing it, can be daunting, even for the seasoned pros. My first time, I was terrified.

If anything, this checklist should make the editing process even for non-newbies run much smoother. Check back next week more more.

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