Category Archives: About editing

What is plot? Pinning down fiction’s elusive structure

Recently, I was evaluating a fiction manuscript in which the really compelling part of the story didn’t begin until 200 pages in, halfway through the manuscript. The foregoing pages read like a journal of the protagonist’s everyday life up until the point of the inciting incident, which in this case happened to be a murder for which he was charged. While I wrote up suggestions for structural changes that would have that dramatic event occur much earlier in the story, I thought about how my self-publishing authors are often uncertain about how to structure a story, going at it blindly or by instinct. Continue reading ➝

Commas demystified! The top 10 uses for commas—made simple

Commas are the most frequently used—and misused—form of punctuation. Annually, I receive dozens of requests for editing, and one of the biggest concerns for authors is their comma usage. They may not be aware of dozens of larger issues in their writing, but they are almost universally uncertain and worried about their comma placement. Commas are used to indicate pauses and to separate elements in a sentence. Continue reading ➝

Accidental comedy in grammar—dangling and misplaced modifiers

The inspiration for this blog post came a from a juice box. I was standing at the fridge one morning a few weeks ago, getting a drink of Sun-Rype juice—a well-known brand where I live—when I read the following on the side of the box: “Nestled in the heart of British Columbia, Canada lays a lush green valley of orchards renowned for sun-ripened fruit.” Oh dear. Canada lays a lush green valley? Canada is nestled in the heart of British Columbia? Don’t we Canadians have a better reputation than that to uphold? Continue reading ➝

How to professionally format your manuscript for editors, agents, and publishers

Most of the manuscripts I receive are not properly formatted for editing. Instead, I get all kinds of unusual formatting, from a stylized, ready-for-print book to 37 chapters all in separate files, each with a hodge-podge of formatting. While it’s not difficult for me to clean up an improperly formatted manuscript, if you can save me the time and put a big smile on my face at the same time, wouldn’t that be a great start to our author-editor relationship? And if you’re planning to submit to an agent without the help of an editor, the following tips are essential for you to know. Continue reading ➝

How to write deep POV: It’s all in your perspective

In fiction writing, there are a lot of soft “rules,” many of which can be broken, but not before you’ve mastered them. For example, writers break fiction rules when they engage in too much telling and not enough showing, information dumping, improperly structuring scenes, and misusing dialogue tags (also known as attributions). But there is one rule I consider unbreakable in modern fiction, especially for first-time authors: stick to just one point-of-view character per scene. Continue reading ➝

Are grammar-checking websites worth the bother? By Caroline Kaiser

A client mentioned recently that she has a thirty-dollar monthly subscription to a certain popular website that promises to check your manuscript for spelling, grammar, punctuation, style, and word choice. I should say at the outset that as a freelance editor, I’m biased and tend to turn up my nose at sites like these; I don’t imagine that they have a hope of ever replacing me or my editor colleagues, so I don’t lose any sleep over the fact of their existence. Continue reading ➝
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