Tag Archives: freelance editor

Manuscript Impossible

Your manuscript needs help. So you’ve called in an expert. He’s supposed to arrive anytime.

There’s a knock on the door. You cast a nervous glance at your manuscript, your eyes briefly settling on the two words The End halfway down the last page. Is is a declaration of a work completed? Or a prediction about your career as a writer.

A more insistent banging jolts you out of your thoughts. You step awkwardly to the door, pausing to wipe your moist palm on the side of your pajamas. Panic pulls your eyes wide. Pajamas! Too late to change into the garb of “normals” now. He’s here.

HE’S HERE!

A different pounding gets louder. It’s your heart thumping against your ribcage. Wait! I’ll pretend I’m not home. I…I…I don’t need his help after all. I can fix this manusc–“

“I’m Mr. Knowitall Foriegnpants. Open up in the name of literacy,” a deep voice booms. “I’m here to edit your manuscript.”

“I’m not home,” you shout. Bad move. Not much chance of a do-over there.

“I know all about your POV problems,” he states with a verbal sneer. If you don’t open up, I’m going to spread it all over town that you have issues with dangling participles.”

Your breath catches. That’s dirty pool.

“You wouldn’t!”

“I already have the first fifty pages of your novel. Remember, you emailed them to me…incorrectly formatted, of course, but that’s a later discussion. Here on page one I read, ‘…skipping along the beach, the moon shone brighter than before.’ Shall I read more?”

Before you can stop yourself, you swing the door open. Standing on the front porch is one of the largest men you’ve ever seen in your life. Even his eyebrows have muscles. And it looks like turtles have crawled up his sleeves and stopped midway between his elbow and shoulder. A t-shirt strained against his wide chest. On the t-shirt was a quote from someone named Hannibal Lector…something about a census taker and a lunch. The words begin to roll, so you glance away. A giant tatoo of a red ink pen covers most of his beefy forearm.

“I’m not home.”

“What?”

“I mean…welcome to my home.

“I’m here to help you remodel your novel,” he says calmly. Too calmly. And that’s two repetitive “ly” words in a row.

You begin to think that perhaps this won’t be as bad as you fear. Then you notice the camera crew walking up the sidewalk.

So how rough is the editing process? Do you fear the process? Do you look forward to it? How do you feel when you get blunt criticism about your manuscript?

My experiences with a freelance editor have been one of the best learning experiences of my writing life. Every writer needs an editor. There are plenty of places to get good help. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s proof that you are teachable and have a respect for the craft.

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Filed under Christian Fiction, Christian Growth, Christian Life, editing, Writing

The Perfect Manuscript

A groom took his new bride by the hand. “Now that we’re married, dear…I hope you won’t mind if I mention a few little defects I’ve noticed about you.”

“Not at all,” the bride said. “it was those little defects that kept me from getting a better husband.”

Defects, snafus, imperfections, issues:  we’ve all got them. Some of us are loaded with them. And so are our manuscripts. Try as we might, we are unable to create the perfect manuscript. There will still be the overused words, muddled phrases, unneccessary speaker attributions, blurry POV issues, and on and on and on the list could go.

So what do we do about it?

We get fresh eyes to look over our work. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received was from an agent who told me to have a freelance editor look over my project before I submitted it to anyone. And that’s exactly what I did. In fact, I’ve done it for both books I’ve written so far on my writing journey. The experience was eye-opening and skin-thickening to say the least. And I loved it!

The editor’s red ink alerted me to mistakes that I hadn’t noticed before. I learned that I have a crazy fascination with the word “that.” And in my first manuscript at least, I had an allergy to contractions and an addiction to speaker attributions. Once I was made aware of these things I just slapped my forehead and said, “Of course!” And there were the other red-inked areas of concern that I didn’t know were defects at all. It truly was one of the most inspiring learning experiences ever.

Writer, relax in the knowledge that ALL writers produce imperfect manuscripts. Be humble, teachable, and respectful of the craft, and you will grow as a writer.

Having other people look at your work is essential. They will see things you missed, or were unwilling to cut. No, there is no perfect editor. They are giving you educated advice, but they can be wrong too. You may have to try a few to find one whose personality meshes with yours, or who has the ability to hear your “voice” and understand your intent. But it is worth the effort. (The dark side of this experience will be a topic for another post).

What mistakes do you make in your writing? Remember confession is good for the soul…or at least good for a laugh. And it helps other writers know that mistakes are just part of the journey. Share a comment about your writing weaknesses and “defects”. Thanks!

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Filed under Christian Fiction, Christian Growth, editing, Writing