Guest Post – 14 Manuscript-Formatting Tips for Writers and Poets – Kathy Steinemann

14 Manuscript-Formatting Tips for Writers and Poets

Don’t press the Publish button until you read this post.

Whether you self-publish or work with a traditional publisher, you should perform a thorough check for hidden codes that might hinder your book’s conversion.

Even if you’re not at the publishing stage, a professional-looking document will impress agents and slush readers. A haphazard mess will have them reaching for antacids.

Save yourself the embarrassment.

This article discusses a few common formatting blunders and how to fix them in Microsoft Word. If you prefer a different word processor, you can still use the information here to isolate the same problems in your software.

Before we begin, open your WIP in Word.

You’ll need to activate the function that allows you to see paragraph marks and other invisible symbols:

Navigate to the Home tab of Word and press the ¶ icon.

Tip #1: Never copy and paste from a website.

If you’ve already done this, you might be in for a bumpy ride.

And I’m not talking about legal issues if you’ve hijacked information from internet pages. You’d never do that, right?

No matter what you copy online, you could pick up weird spacing, tables, headings, undesired page breaks, non-standard colors and font sizes, tabs, highlighting, special characters, et al. These unexpected anomalies could prevent conversion to eBook format.

Tip #2: Select a standard font such as Times New Roman or Cambria.

Comic Sans MS won’t impress an agent or an editor. But if you’re self-publishing a printed children’s book, go for it.

Tip #3: Avoid tables.

Some eBook aggregators or programs won’t accept tables, or they do a sloppy conversion job. If you need a table, one option is to produce a graphic instead. It’s beyond the scope of a short article to explain the mechanics, but for guidance, you can search online for how to take a screenshot.

Tip #4: Remove non-breaking spaces.

These spaces, which require a Ctrl-Shift-Space key sequence in Word, mysteriously appear in some documents and will make them fail EPUBCheck validation.

Non-breaking spaces create sentences that look like this:

The°quick°red°fox°jumps°over°the°lazy°brown°dog.

instead of this:

The·quick·red·fox·jumps·over·the·lazy·brown·dog.

To replace them:

Search for [space]
Replace with [space]

Word is smart enough to replace all spaces, including non-breaking spaces, with regular ones.

Tip #5: Eliminate double returns after paragraphs.

Do you see something like the following in your manuscript?

The quick red fox.¶

Tsk, tsk. That’s what styles are for.

Search for ^p^p
Replace with ^p

If you want extra room after each paragraph, access the style you need to change and modify its spacing:

Modify -> Format -> Paragraph -> Spacing: After

Not sure how to use Word styles?

Microsoft provides how-tos for several versions of Word at the following link:

https://support.office.com/en-us/article/customize-or-create-new-styles-in-word-d38d6e47-f6fc-48eb-a607-1eb120dec563

Tip #6: Delete linefeeds, and replace them with paragraph returns.

Linefeeds eliminate extra spacing between paragraphs. They’re produced with Shift-Enter, and are helpful when writing articles for blogs. This post contains a few, because they work well in WordPress. However, they don’t belong in manuscripts.

Word expects all text joined by linefeeds to be part of the same style. An added annoyance: They hinder edits to hyperlinks and bookmarks.

Search for ^l
Replace with ^p

[That’s ^ell, not ^one.]

Tip #7: Replace double spaces with single spaces.

Double spaces between words were the norm when everyone created manuscripts on typewriters. Nowadays they’re unnecessary, and they can cause spacing anomalies.

For instance, if a line break occurs in the middle of a double space, you’ll end up with a single space at the end of the first line and another single space at the beginning of the next. Given the number of double spaces that would occur in a typical manuscript, the probability of several such anomalies is close to 100%.

Search for [space][space]
Replace with [space]

Tip #8: Remove extraneous spaces at the end and beginning of paragraphs.

No matter how careful you are, these spaces appear as you write and revise. They’re easy to replace.

Search for [space]^p
Replace with ^p

and then

Search for ^p[space]
Replace with ^p

Tip #9: Edit apostrophes that face the wrong way.

Consider this sentence:

“But I don’t trust ‘im,” he said.

Note the punctuation that replaces the missing h at the beginning of ‘im. It looks like a quotation mark.

Here’s how you would fix it. Type:

[h][i][m][cursor left x 2][‘][cursor left][backspace][cursor right x 3]

This is an excellent reason to avoid words that drop initial letters.

Instead of: ’E’s doing it again.

Try: He’s doin’ it again.

Instead of: He’s going with ’em.

Try: He’s goin’ with them.

Instead of: I’m not against ’t, honest.

Try: I’m not agin it, honest.

Plan your dialect before you write your story, and keep a file with the quirks for each person. Characters should have unique speech characteristics that enable readers to differentiate them, but the dialogue should be easy to read.

Tip #10: Replace tabs.

Search for ^t
Replace with [nothing]

Tabs don’t belong in a manuscript. Neither do multiple spaces. If you want to indent the beginning of each paragraph, set up a style for that.

Indented paragraphs function well for novels.

Block-formatted paragraphs work better for books such as cookbooks and instructional manuals, where special formatting like bulleted lists, block indents, and hanging indents often appear.

Tip #11: If you’re preparing your document for eBook conversion, find and replace these codes with [nothing]:

^b (section break)

^m (manual page break)

Tip #12: Never do this.

Do you remember the tip about double returns after paragraphs?

Here’s a practice that’s even worse: multiple presses of the Enter key to reach the top of a new page, to insert a blank page, or to set up for a section break.

In eBooks, free-flowing text, font changes by readers, and varying screen sizes will transform extra lines into a mess. You might get away with it in a paperback or hardcover edition, but a minor edit before you print could alter your paging and introduce other glitches.

Instead, on the Insert tab, select:

Pages -> Blank Page

or

Pages -> Page Break

Tip #13: Search and replace cautiously.

Why?

Consider the following, for example. Sometimes authors want to replace all ‘s (straight quotes) with ‘s (curly quotes). This is how they do it:

Search for ‘
Replace with ‘

However, when they do this, all words such as ’e’s, ’em, and ’t end up with apostrophes that face the wrong way.

Can you imagine the time-consuming mess you’ll have to clean up afterward?

Always, and I repeat, always double check your entire document after performing blanket search-and-replace operations. Yes, it takes time, but quality is worth the effort.

Tip #14: When all else fails …

Are you receiving obscure errors from EPUBCheck or your book aggregator’s conversion process?

If you can’t locate the problems via Word’s Find function, you might have to:

  1. Copy the text from your manuscript into a text file.
  2. Begin a new manuscript.
  3. Select the contents of the text file, copy, and then paste into the new manuscript. This removes all formatting.
  4. Start at the beginning and reformat the @#$%&! thing.

Imagine how long that will take. The painless approach would be to avoid the errors in the first place.

A program like Jutoh, which contains EPUBCheck and works well in tandem with Calibre, provides meaningful errors. Jutoh also allows direct edits, saves your project, and converts to multiple file formats.

Don’t give up if you experience formatting difficulties.

And remember: Today’s words are tomorrow’s legacy. Keep writing.

© Kathy Steinemann

Kathy Steinemann, Grandma Birdie to her grandkids, is a parrot-loving grandma involved in a passionate affair with words, especially when the words are frightening or futuristic or funny.

As a child, she scribbled prose and poetry, and won public-speaking and writing awards. As an adult, she worked as a small-town paper editor, and taught a couple of college courses. She has won or placed in multiple short fiction contests.

If you were to follow her around for a day, you might see her wince when a character on TV says “lay” instead of “lie” or when a social media post confuses “your” with “you’re.” And please don’t get her started on gratuitous apostrophes in pluralized words.

Her popular books in The Writer’s Lexicon series are touted by writers as “phenomenal,” a “secret weapon,” and “better than a thesaurus.”

You’ll find her at KathySteinemann.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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A Day in the Life Of Laurie Boris – writer and editor #Meetanauthor

 

Welcome to Laurie Boris

Please give us a brief outline of who you are. (no more than 250 words).

I’m an enigma wrapped in a pair of yoga pants and a T-shirt, with a secret yearning to go back in time and become either a stand-up comic or a chef. Otherwise, I’m just trying to enjoy my life as a copyeditor and fiction writer.

You’re a writer/editor – how is this reflected in your typical day?

Wearing a few hats means I have to be mindful of my time and energy. That includes keeping myself as healthy as possible, with regular exercise, stretching, and a good diet. If I’m working on my own writing, I’ll do that first thing in the morning, since that’s my best window of creativity. When I’m doing client work, I make sure I’m giving it my best focus. Everything else gets fit in around that.

Do you work at another job? If so tell us about fitting in the writing/cover design/editing.

I do. I work part time as a web content editor at a small community college. It’s a great place to work and my colleagues are terrific. My hours are flexible, so I’ve been able do my freelancing and my own writing around the job.

How do you fit in ‘real life’?

Real life? What is this real life of which you speak? I try to fit in a little fun once in a while and spend time with my husband, family, and friends. I like movies and baseball and swimming. And one important lesson I’ve learned from freelancing and self-publishing is that most tasks take longer than I expect. So I try not to schedule myself down to the minute.

What is your ideal working environment?

Total silence, with a cup of coffee at my side. Sometimes I’ll play an app of nature sounds. That’s very soothing and can sometimes improve my focus or help me transition from one project to another.

What do you eat for breakfast?

Gluten-free oatmeal with almonds and fruit, usually a banana. I don’t feel right if I miss breakfast—it messes up my energy for the rest of the day.

Links/samples/etc.

Thank you so much for letting me visit! Here’s where you can find me:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/laurie.boris.author

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LaurieBoris

My website: http://laurieboris.com

Amazon author page: amazon.com/author/laurieboris

2015 – A Writer’s Diary

Welcome back to the Library of Erana and the last day of 2015. So another year has dashed past and I’m sitting at the end of 2015 and wondering where it went. I have a theory – someone is siphoning time out of the weekend and holidays and sneaking it into the working day. That’s why days at work seem to go on longer than the same day on leave.

What has 2015 brought me? A house! We bought our first house in April and it’s great. Whilst the place isn’t perfect it’s a good deal better than renting a damp flat and my overall health is better. Also we now have a delightful doggy – she’s grown from a tiny puppy to almost adult and we adore her. Every day she makes us smile and she’s such a happy and joyful creature.

Work… still there. Still stressful and busy but at least I am working and thankful for that.

Writing wise I’ve not been as productive as I planned – mostly due to the factors above but I’ve not been idle.

Stolen Tower – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book III was published in March 2015. https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/new-release-the-stolen-tower-the-light-beyond-the-storm-chronicles-iii/

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The third edition of Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book I was published with quite a few revisions and a new cover for the paperback. http://www.amazon.com/Light-Beyond-Storm-Chronicles–ebook/dp/B0088DQO9C

Outside the Walls was revised and expanded and the audio book produced with narrator Melanie Fraser. It sounds great. There is something magical in hearing one’s book read aloud.

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/08/25/outside-the-walls-fantasy-short-story-new-release/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/10/16/outside-the-walls-now-in-print/

Audio

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Outside-the-Walls/dp/B0189QHB12/

http://www.amazon.com/Outside-the-Walls/dp/B0189Q944E/

http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Fiction/Outside-the-Walls-Audiobook/B0189QCHI4/

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Outside-the-Walls-Audiobook/B0189Q95XO
Warrior’s Curse was produced in audio by narrator Rob Goll – who has also done Heroika: Dragon Eaters for Perseid Press and will be narrating Light Beyond the Storm and Shining Citadel in 2016.

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Tales-of-Erana-The-Warriors-Curse-Audiobook/B00UG8AWU4/http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Tales-of-Erana-The-Warriors-Curse-Audiobook/B00UG8I5SK
Heroika: Dragon Eaters was published – along with the accompanying audio book. Please check out the A Week with the Dragon Eaters posts for author and character interviews.

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/12/19/heroika-dragon-eaters-audio/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/04/05/heroika-dragon-eaters-heroic-fictionfantasymyth-new-release/

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I’ve done 17 guest interviews elsewhere including the latest with Melanie Fox here. https://mercedesfoxbooks.com/meet-author-a-l-butcher/ and four character interviews including Mirandra, Ephany, Dii’Athella and the Thiefmaster.

Oh and a course on Roman and Greek Mythology – which was really interesting. https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/07/11/greek-and-roman-mythology-course-review/
There have been over 160 blog posts – including another Week in Hell, a Week with the Dragon Eaters, character, editor and author interviews, and several fantasy based posts and reblogs.

10 tips and lessons

1) I’m rubbish at using Twitter! Does it help marketing? Not a bloody clue. Many people say it is a vital tool; personally I’m not convinced as I have never bought a book or product from a twitter link and it looks like many people shouting to me. That said I do follow a few authors and it is useful for sharing blog posts. I follow the history, nature an astronomy posts too.

2) There is never enough time or energy to write. This is, of course, mostly my fault. I work full time and often I don’t have enough energy or brain power to do much but poke about on Facebook.

3) Networking is vital. I knew this already but it’s good to have one’s knowledge reinforced. Indie authors are, generally, a supportive lot and I’ve traded interviews, found great books to read and got to know a wide variety of people through social media and networking. It’s a good way of getting support for new releases, blogging, Thunderclap and more.

4) There are some total asshats about and many more idiots. This too has been obvious for a while. Recent events have NOT made the world a safer place. Whilst I agree that terrorism is bad, and religion pernicious bombing the crap out of an area that is already a wasteland is not going to make things better. Humans have an amazing capacity to be total asshats to one another – I can’t think of any other animal which is so unpleasant to its own kind – of course not everyone is like that and certain groups have been labelled as terrorists when it is the actions of a minority. History tends to repeat itself – and in many ways humans have a short memory – or at least a selective one. Often people are quick to judge, especially when they don’t know all the facts. Ignorance leads to fear and fear to hatred, then the killing begins anew, or the ghetto, or the pogrom, or the genocide….

Facebook especially fuels both idiocy and vitriol. There are lots of calls from freedom of speech but – of course that depends on who is doing the speaking and what they are saying. There is either freedom to say what the hell you like – and that goes for everyone or there’s not – some limitations are put in place. But then where and when does that stop. Perhaps if people thought before they spoke (or typed) such limitations wouldn’t be needed. Just because you CAN say something doesn’t mean you SHOULD.
Anyway enough of the political talk…don’t get me started I spent 7 years studying politics, sociology, ethics and philosophy and it taught me not to get involved in debates with people who won’t listen and assume they are always right…

5) Marketing is a lottery. I’ve tried some new tactics this year – including Twitter and Thunderclap – results have been mixed. Both are free – at least at the basic level so although not particularly successful no outlay was lost. I’ve found a mix of things helps. Don’t rely on one strategy – vary your approach and keep things interesting.

tps://www.thunderclap.it

6) Write every day, even if it’s not working on a book or story. A blog post, a facebook post, a letter or email to someone – it all keeps the brain cells ticking. Write stories when you can and don’t force it. The world is NOT going to end if that story isn’t finished this week. That’s one of the many reasons I love indie publishing. With a few exceptions the person setting the deadlines is me and so if the book isn’t finished or life intervenes (which it does frequently) then it doesn’t matter as much.

7) Be nice to people. If you can’t be nice be quiet.

8) Vary what you write – if you’re struggling with a project then step away from it and work on something else. I’ve found that focusing on other things means my brain can be ticking away in the background sorting out the problems with the other project.

9) Some things can’t be fixed. It’s easy to spend a lot of time on a project or idea only to find it doesn’t work, or its crap. Yes I know this contradicts point 8 a bit but sometimes an idea simply won’t work – or at least not in the way you want. That’s fine. Sometimes shit happens (or doesn’t) don’t force it to be something it isn’t. Readers can spot a forced plot. If it doesn’t work then change it – look at your options. Can it be used for something else? What is causing the issue? Can it actually be fixed? Sometimes it can’t. Sometimes it becomes something else. That’s fine too.

10) Read more. Reading is great relaxation, great research and great enjoyment. The more you read the better writer you’ll become.

So what’s planned for 2016?

I have lots of plans for 2016 – most of which may never materialise but it’s still good to plan.

These are not in any order….
Hopefully a second Heroika volume will happen (for Perseid Press). Not going to mention too much of my WIP but the volume should be great, having seen a few snippets of draft stories. Hopefully my story will be up to scratch and I’m sure the book will feature on the blog when it’s published.

There will be at least one short Tales of Erana, possibly two. I’m planning to release Just One Mistake with a few revisions as a standalone. It’s already featured in Nine Heroes plus my own Tales of Erana Volume One but I have idea how it can be expanded. I think it would make a great audio short story.

Book II is currently being revised so there will be a new edition of that sometime early to mid 2016.

Book I in audio. Rob Goll is narrating that and we are hoping for spring 2016 release on that. I can’t wait to hear what he’s done.

Tales from the Golden Mask – this has been a WIP for a while. Hopefully the first part of the series will be released by the summer. It’s a co-authored erotic adventure set in an Erana of the past. We think it’s a lot of fun, with feisty women, sexy heroes and of course a goodly helping of nookie. This one doesn’t take itself or the world too seriously and is aimed at a slightly different audience.

The Kitchen Imps – a short book of fantasy tales for kids and the young at heart. I really need to work on these, as this is another project which has been around for a while.
I’m contemplating changing the blog – currently this is the free wordpress type but the upgraded version has a lot more features. I’m hoping to attach a website dedicated to just the books as well. I’ll let you know how that goes…

Also looking to participate in a blog tour – I’ve hosted people before but I’ve never done it myself. Will be an interesting experience and I’ll review it after.

Want to try and read more, and review more. I often stick to re-reads but I’m going to try and branch out for new authors. I’ll try and be better at posting reviews as well.
Looking for plenty more interviews – both giving and receiving – guest posts and articles.

Signed up for a course on medieval magic, one on Ancient Greece and also looking at ancient Egypt. Plus whatever else takes my fancy and I can manage with the other commitments.
I’ll look back in twelve months and see how many of these I’ve done.
Feel free to comment on ideas, suggestions for the blog and contacts about interviews.
Hoping 2016 is good for you, my followers, and you’ll keep viewing the blog.

Red and gold rose 2chronicles banner  Warriors Curse Final 1 - ebook

Editor Interview Number Thirteen – Jamie Burgess

Hi, welcome to the Library of Erana and thank you for talking to us today.

Please introduce yourself. My name is Jamie Burgess and I am a stay at home mom of 3 girls.  I absolutely love to read and will read just about anything.  I am just getting started in the freelance editing business.

How did you get into this line of work? I chose to start editing due to the vast number of books I was trying to read that had obviously been self-edited, they are often very hard reads.  As I read I am editing in my head to make the stories easier to understand and decided that if I was editing as I read, I could put those skills to use.

Are there genres you refuse, if so why is that? Do you have any you love?I prefer not to read erotica, it’s just not my cup of tea.  I love historical romance, young adult, and Christian based books the most.

Are you also a writer?  If so do you self-edit or do you use the services of another editor? I write poetry and lyrics but I have never submitted my work for publishing.

What are your opinions of self-edited work by authors? Self-editing is virtually impossible.  You need that person who can help you see the best wording to convey your thought.  The person not afraid to say this paragraph is not needed or this makes no sense, can we try this instead.  It is hard to find your own mistakes, and second guessing your own work can lead to further mistakes.

Have you ever refused a manuscript? No, I have just now started in the business.

Have you ever had an author refuse your suggestions/changes? If so how did you deal with it? No, and if they did that would be their choice.  As an editor I am here to correct mistakes and makes suggestions.  Ultimately this is their work and they must do what feels right for them.

Editors often receive a bad press in the writing community, what are your thoughts on this? First and foremost editors must remember that they are assisting a writer with producing an easy to read product.  They are NOT the writer of the particular story they are working on and their vision will not always be the same as the writer. Instead of being a constant negative voice, make sure to give your author good feedback when they have done well.  I think building a good relationship with your author is imperative, it helps you to further understand what your author is wanting to say and how you can help them say it.

Please could you tell us about the process involved with editing for, say, a 100k word manuscript. (Line edit, content edit etc.) Line editing is the final edit ensuring proper punctuation, correct wording, that the best quality of work has been produced.

Content editing is working with the author to change wording and dialogue while ensuring that the vision of the work is being kept. Content editing can be the difference in being an author and being a bestselling author.

What is the difference between proof-reading and editing? Proof-reading is fixing punctuation and spelling mistakes, taking out double use of words.  Editing is ensuring the flow of the story, making suggested changes, and working with your author to ensure their vision is being told.

Do you have part of the process you really enjoy? Is there a part you don’t? I love it all.

Outside of your work as an editor do you read for pleasure? What genre do you enjoy the most? I love to read and would read from the time I get up until I go to bed if it were possible.  My favourite would be historical romance but it’s becoming more difficult to find “original” story lines, so I read a lot of young adult.

If so do you find yourself editing the work as you go or are you able to “switch off?” No, I am definitely editing as I go.

What advice would you give to someone starting out as an editor?Research and marketing in that order.  Look at the average prices free-lance editors are charging and determine where in that range your skills and experience fit.  Decide which type of content you would be most happy reading, if you don’t love reading what you are working on then you will struggle to effectively edit that work.  Then find all the places you can advertise yourself.  Be willing to work for free in the beginning, building a name will help you be prosperous later on.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-edit? Self-editing leads to second and third guessing of what you wrote and in doing so often leads to further mistakes.  It is time consuming and that time could be spent working on your next novel. Find a good editor and let them assist you in seeing your vision in all its potential.

Tell us a silly fact about yourself. I have a stuffed frog that I can’t sleep without.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editor Interview Number Twelve – Nikki Andrews

Hi, welcome to the Library of Erana and thank you for talking to us today.

Please introduce yourself.  Hi, I’m Nikki Andrews, AKA Kinan Werdski or Runs With Bears. Long stories.

How did you get into this line of work? Several years ago, a bunch of authors were featured in a collection by a very small local publisher. The editing was so poor that I begged to fix at least the punctuation. That led to a standing position at the company, with more responsibility as time went on. By the time the company folded, I had discovered how much I love the work, and sought out possibilities for freelance and contract work.

Are there genres you refuse, if so why is that? Do you have any you love? I don’t accept erotica, porn, or dystopian novels, simply because I don’t like them. I love mysteries, classic sci-fi, and well-written fantasy.

Are you also a writer?  If so do you self-edit or do you use the services of another editor? Yes, I am. I self-edit, but also submit to my writing group, and welcome editing by my publisher. If I were self-publishing, I would definitely hire an editor to check my work.

What are your opinions of self-edited work by authors? I think authors short-change themselves by trying to edit their own work. Editing is a different skill from writing, requiring a whole other set of qualifications. Most important of all, an editor is not emotionally attached to a manuscript, and can see where changes need to be made.

Have you ever refused a manuscript? Other than for genres I usually refuse, I rarely turn down work. On occasion I have advised authors that their work needs more than ordinary editing; they may need a writing coach or instructor. In those cases, I’m willing to help, but because the work is much more intense, my fees are accordingly higher.

Have you ever had an author refuse your suggestions/changes? If so how did you deal with it? In my freelance work, a self-publishing author is, of course, free to do what she wants with my suggestions. However, if an author brings me a new story with exactly the same issues as the ones I corrected in his first manuscript, I gently suggest he refer to our previous work together before I contract the new one.

In work contracted to a press, I explain in detail why the change needs to be made and offer alternatives. I cite company policies and contracts, which often require edits to be made to company satisfaction. If all else fails–and this has never happened to me–a book might not be published if the author refuses to make satisfactory changes.

Editors often receive a bad press in the writing community, what are your thoughts on this? As an author, I understand the feeling. Editors criticize your book, which is like a stranger criticizing your child. But for an editor, it’s never personal; it’s always about improving the work. We may have different ideas on what “improvement” means, even among ourselves, but the goal is always to polish the gem.

Please could you tell us about the process involved with editing for, say, a 100k word Manuscript. Regardless of length, I start with the big picture, the content. Is the story compelling, the characters well-rounded, the setting realistic within its genre? Does every scene serve a purpose, whether to advance the plot, develop the world, or deepen the emotion? The key question here is, “Do I want to read more?” If not, why not, and what can be done to make it more engaging?

Then (and often simultaneously) I do the line editing, which encompasses finding the right words, clarifying point of view, checking the flow of dialogue and narrative, verifying consistency, rooting out anachronisms, and more. Finally (and again simultaneously) I check grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

What is the difference between proof-reading and editing? Good question. Some people are under the impression that editing is making sure commas are in the right place. Nope, that’s proof-reading, which looks for the sort of errors that creep in when you’re writing in the middle of the night: there/they’re/their, or is/are, or !/? Proof-reading is “proving,” in the original sense of “testing,” that the text is exactly what you meant it to be, with all the p’s and q’s correct and every word in the right place. It’s a very painstaking process, but different from editing.

Do you have part of the process you really enjoy? Is there a part you don’t? I love watching stories and characters come alive, and seeing writing grow stronger and more dynamic. I hate teaching how to punctuate dialogue.

Outside of your work as an editor do you read for pleasure? What genre do you enjoy the most? Housework can wait. Cooking can wait. Visiting relatives can definitely wait. I’d much rather read. I probably read more mysteries than anything else, but I also enjoy science fact and fiction, mainstream fiction, and history.

If so do you find yourself editing the work as you go or are you able to “switch off?” As I mentioned earlier, I’ve always “edited” my reads. If a book can make me switch off, I dance.

What advice would you give to someone starting out as an editor? Get some nuns to teach you basic grammar. Preferably with a ruler across the knuckles. Failing that, and in addition, read some good style guides. Study well-edited books (ask your librarian for suggestions) and figure out what makes them special. Take a course or two or five. Read. Read. Read.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-edit? Don’t.

Tell us a silly fact about yourself. I settle editorial disagreements with hard copies of Roget’s or CMOS at ten paces.

Please add any links to your blog/website etc.

www.scrivenersriver.blogspot.com

www.nikkiandrewsbooks.com