Twitter’s #EditReport

Disclaimer — this post is pretty much only for novel writers.

Carina Press Executive Editor Angela James does a monthly Twitter hashtag of snippets from the reports she gets back from her freelance editors, mostly reasons they recommend rejections. It’s fascinating reading, if only to see the basic mistakes in manuscripts that writers thought were good enough to submit. She did one today, and she posts them afterward at storify.com: http://storify.com/angelajames. Oh, and just to prove there’s hope, she always ends with tidbits from those manuscripts recommended for acquisition.

You can search for the hashtag #EditReport to see what they tell her — be aware that the wording is much more blunt than you might see in a critique; these aren’t meant for the tender eyes of apprentice novelists (I’m one of those fragile-ego’d writers, but I also have rhino-hide from years of being on the other side of the desk in journalism where no prisoners are taken, and in technical writing where engineers PREFER passive voice and cannot be strangled for it).

However, when sanitized for the protection of, well, everyone, they make a remarkably good checklist of things to look at before you send your brain child into the harsh world of other peoples’ eyes and opinions.

For example, does your heroine admire herself in the mirror at the end of chapter 1? Really, is there a woman alive who can look in a mirror and not notice all the bad parts first? Maybe that’s not the best way to get her appearance across to your readers.

Do your characters have conversations where they tell each other things they already know so you can communicate it to the reader? (Note that science fiction writers are particularly prone to this. I’m just sayin’….) This is known as the “As you know, Bob” conversation. Yes, it’s a technical term.

Consider how often you tell your friends and family things they already know, so they can tell you things you already know. Yes, I know one or two people who do like to lecture others about known topics, but I avoid them as much as humanly possible.

If you’re a writer and you just broke into a cold sweat, I recommend taking a class on self-editing. I took two in the last year, because I thought to myself, “What if you’re wrong, and all that editing you did for the college paper back when and for various and sundry technical writing clients in the (mumble) years since doesn’t apply, and your fiction structure sucks?” Luckily, I seem to have been doing it properly, so any and all suckage is mine alone, not because of a deficit in my editing skills.

One of them was the Editpalooza class through Savvy Authors featuring instruction from developmental editors at Entangled Publishing; this might never happen again, as organizer/lead teacher Liz Pelletier has far too many hats on her head between her publishing company and her website/writer community/writing school.

The other class was “Before You Hit Send”, which is going to be taught again in January by Carina Press Executive Editor Angela James (of the #EditReport). It’s a tiny bit spendy ($49 for four weeks, I believe), but it covers all those basic writing issues that get in the way of your story-telling talent. How much is it worth not to recognize something you did in one of those #EditReports? For me, it’s priceless; your mileage may vary. Grin.

1 comment so far

  1. Novel Girl on

    Wow. You just introduced me to a wonderful world. Thanks for the tip on the #Editreport hashtag 🙂

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