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That Pesky Internal Editor

August 19, 2013 by in category Archives tagged as , , ,

I think we’ve all laughed along with the t-shirt motto: I’m Secretly Correcting Your Grammar. And nodded because, yes, we are. We each have our own particular misuse or phrase that acts like fingernails on a blackboard. For me it’s Who/Which/That. I find myself inserting “Who” for “That” while following a conversation, or listening to a television news personality.
We can also be distracted by titles or weak plot points. Most recently I remember a title referring to the hero as soldier coming home. Lovely thoughts. Except this particular hero was a Navy SEAL, as in SAILOR. Somehow this faux pas made it past multiple editors as well as an author who has in the past shown excellent military knowledge.
Maybe we’ve become experts at catching plot anomalies such as horses changing color (or their riders shifting from in the saddle to on the ground to in the saddle without ever actually mounting or dismounting) I remember one love scene where the hero unbuttoned the heroine’s blouse then removed her dress…guess she really wanted to cover up.
Sometimes that editor doesn’t even show up when we first read or hear something that will one day bother us. I’m thinking about “Sound of Music” which I saw when it came out at the drive-in theatre (remember those?) and subsequently wore out the sound track on my record player. Sometimes while I’m gardening or working with the dogs, I’ll break out into show tunes, since there’s no one around to hear me. I was singing “(How Do You Solve a Problem Like) Maria,” trying to sing all parts myself since the dogs aren’t great at following a tune.
“She climbs a tree and scrapes her knee. Her dress has got a tear. She waltzes on the way to mass and whistles on the stair. And underneath her wimple she has curlers in her hair. I’ve even…” Wait a minute? Curlers in her hair? For a young woman from a small village who intends to be a nun? Where would she buy curlers and why would she spend her money in that fashion? For that matter, if she’s a novitiate, wearing a wimple, she’s not going to have enough hair to wear curlers. Certainly Julie Andrews wasn’t showing off flowing locks of hair in the movie.
Minor?  Perhaps, in this instance. After all the movie, the music, the story all combined to enchant us to such an extent we probably wouldn’t question the curlers. I certainly didn’t until, well let’s see, Sound of Music came out in 1959 and it’s…ahem.  Well, anyway…
We’d all like to hope our characters are so compelling readers will ignore minor editing issues. Except what’s minor when it comes to editing? A character who despises coffee in the first chapter and is swilling down espressos in the second half of the book, with no logical explanation for the change in taste.  Although come to think of it, that is an interesting plot point. Hmmmm
Sorry for the digression, must be too much coffee. Or maybe not enough? Of course we’d rather be known for scintillating dialogue and compelling characters instead of unintended humor due to poor editing. And we really don’t want to dump a confusing mess on our editors, especially if we want to keep sending them books.
This problem has many solutions including beta readers, critique partners, and people you pay to give your book a cold read. Just be sure whoever has input on your story cares enough about you to be brutally honest when necessary. Better them than someone reading your story after publication.
Happy writing
Monica Stoner w/a Mona Karel

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Of Edits and Covers and other Minutiae

March 19, 2012 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , ,

Monica Stoner, Member at Large
I continue to be amazed to read “no one edits books anymore.” Mind you, I have read quite a few books that don’t seem to be edited at all. But it’s hard to say if the books were not edited or maybe they just were not edited well.  However that works, I do know some publishers do still edit submissions, and state so quite clearly in their websites.
I can only personally speak of my own publisher, Black Opal Books.  My books have received three edits: one for spelling and basic grammar, one for syntax and style, and a final review by the lead editor.  Each time the book comes back to me, I read it from beginning to end, considering the suggestions, made some of my own, and along the way found even more places where words could be replaced, eliminated, polished.  This after what I thought was an intensive rewrite.  There really is always room for improvement.
And how many times are we told: “The author has no control over the title, the cover, the blurb, or anything else to do with their book but the actual words?”  Lucky me, I have not experienced this situation.  The cover for My Killer My Love was collaboration between me and another Black Opal Books author.  I had the face I wanted to use (see image on the right) and I knew I wanted the face “haunting” an ancient forest.  

For my upcoming book, the edits made Teach Me To Forget more poignant than I had ever imagined it could be.  The blurb was a matter of a few messages between Lauri Wellington, editor extraordinaire, and me.  But I could NOT come up with any sort of cover.  Too many scenes crowded into my head: Bethany’s travesty of a wedding, her later success as a feature writer, her Irish setter, or Jonathan’s past life as a jet setter, his new life as a nature photographer.  Any of those would have been a decent cover, but none sang to me.  So I admitted defeat, and asked for help.  Within a day, I received this cover:
Okay, so Jonathan and Bethany never really got it on in the middle of the woods.  But for such a pretty cover, I think we can allow a little poetic license.
Teach Me To Forget will available in e-book format May, 2012 from Black Opal Books.  
Mona Karel’s blog talks about cooking and dieting and getting by.  
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