Monday, December 3, 2012

Editing: Now with Technicolor

When my pseudonym first got published, it was a steep learning curve. 

Fill out how many forms? 
Sign and initial where? 
Wait, how many round of edits? 

But even all the paperwork was exciting, because this was me being a real writer. Hell, who am I kidding? It still is exciting. 

But never having worked with a professional editor before, when I got my first round of edits back it was all a bit of a comment-filled rainbowy mess:
Not Alco-vision, but intentionally blurry. 
And let me tell you, when you're looking at 250 pages of that, intimidating is not the first word that comes to mind. The f-word is. But you know what? The only way to avoid getting something back with all that colour is to turn in a better manuscript in the beginning

I know, crazy, right? 

But it's possible. My last submission came back with not much to do at all. At first I figured the editorial team was slacking off, because the only other explanation was that I was -- gasp -- getting better, and surely that couldn't be right? Apparently so. Yes, I was learning from my mistakes. I was shocked as well. But not as shocked as my mum, who has been praying for this since my early teens. 

So here's my Editing 101 advice to you: say goodbye to your red pens, and get out the highlighters instead. And then go through your manuscript and do this: 

Make echoes and repeated words blue. Yes, even down to the 'he said's. You'll be surprised how many you can cut. 

If actions are happening simultaneously that are physically impossible, make it red. I'm good at doing these. Falling to his knees, he reached for the knife. Actually, first he fell to his knees and then he reached for the knife, right?  

Green is for independently acting body parts. His hands moved across the table. No, they didn't. He moved his hands across the table. 

Pink is for all those unnecessary words that creep in. That. Very. Really. Please note that this is for editing manuscripts only, not blog posts. Because otherwise a good 75% of my blog posts would be pink. 

And do that yourself before you send your manuscript away, and you'll be surprised at the difference you can make. 


And I am off to Cairns today. Just because! If I am late posting next time, I promise to make it up to you with a picture of the most outrageous and possibly dangerous waste of tax payer money I have ever seen in my life. Oh yes -- it's possum-related. 

Furry little bastards. 


  1. Ooooh, interesting! I'm bookmarking this for future reference :D

    Have fun in Cairns :)

    1. Thanks, Miss Cole!

      It's a handy system for seeing the patterns in the mistakes you make as well.

  2. I think my WIP would look like a technicolor nightmare of kaleidoscope rainbows even a unicorn wouldn't be caught dead reading. But this is awesome advice, and a great way to keep track of the changes.

    1. And surprisingly satisfying when you get it back to a white page! :)

  3. Very good advice. I believe I will tuck these tidbits away for future reference. That repeated word thing is probably my biggest issue.

    1. Thanks, JE. I also have huge issues with repeated words.

  4. Excellent advice, Jen! Thanks!

  5. Ohhh, I remember the rainbow! And being so terrified while I was correcting everything that I could barely move my hands on the keyboard. But yeah, it is easier now to nip these things in the bud--or once they've bloomed but before the mss get sent off.

    The repeated words still get me.



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