Tag Archives: why you need an editor

Says the Editor: Verb? Adjective?


Is it a verb? Is it an adjective? No! This is a picture!

Seriously, though…

I had an interesting experience I wanted to pass along, because it’s about worldview, and it’s about word choice, and it’s about how every person brings something different to a piece and to the use of language, itself.

You see, I have a short story. I’ll be telling you more about this short story in the near future, but for now, let me say that I wrote a short story and I’m working with an editor on it. Yes, even editors use editors! (That’s because we understand the value of a second set of eyes, and we understand that it’s money well spent, and we understand how a fresh perspective (dare I say worldview can help us produce the best book — or in this case, short story — possible.)

And I used this phrase: At last, we quiet.

Or something like that. 😉

And my editor wanted me to change it to At last, we quieted.

So I took a look. Because I brought her on board to help me, right? And… I realized that the piece is in present tense, which is kind of rare for me but there it is, and approving her change means… a tense change right in the middle of the piece.

I pointed that out to her. She looked it over, thought about it, agreed, but said something about the phrase still bothered her.

I took another look, both at her request and because, frankly, I was intrigued.

And it hit me. She didn’t like that I was using quiet as a verb. So I changed it to an adjective by adding a verb in there and we were both happy.

It was a few hours later that it hit me what a brilliant change that wound up being. It’s one of those small, subtle changes that no one will ever be aware of (although now that I’m pointing it out to you, you might), but it’s a verb that echoes back to the genesis of the story, the action that sets the character on the path that leads us to the point where she finally quiets.

But hopefully — and this is what really good writing does — that one small word change, that one insertion, will give the reader a more complete reading experience, will heighten the emotion even if they don’t know the hows or whys they got there. That the reader will come away with a bit of extra satisfaction that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

This is why we use editors, friends. I sent her the best story possible. She helped me make it better.

More to come about it, so stay tuned.


#SaysTheEditor Yes, You Need Me


I got a call for guest bloggers last week. I’m not telling you directly about it because:
1: The call was for Pittsburgh-based folks, and most of you aren’t Pittsburgh-based
and (here’s the key)
2: It was full of grammatical errors.

Why would I encourage anyone to be associated with a group that’s trying to curate an unpaid writing staff, but can’t be bothered with proofreading the job packet? Why would I take the time to write a post or two for them, using my strict standards for grammar and punctuation, and… let them possibly change that up and make me look bad?

One or two typos… that’s one thing, in certain circumstances. Like a blog post, a Facebook status, even sometimes (*cough*) a Tweet. (Typos, folks, not a lack of knowledge of homophones.)

But from a professional organization? Looking for writers?

Yeah. No thanks.

I came this close to sending them an e-mail offering to proofread for them. It didn’t take long to decide not to. After all, my fiction clients keep me gloriously busy* and fiction is my passion. I’m about making the best book possible, not about hitching myself to a company, while local, that would probably thank me and tell me to contact them when I wanted to submit unpaid blog posts to them.

So… as you consider publicity (and even publications!) for yourself, look hard at the source. Is their copy sloppy, riddled with errors? If so, how will they make YOU look to others?

Bottom line: You can write the best book possible, but if people aren’t helping you look your best, it’s not in your best interests. Publicity or no, walk away.

* That said, this is always a good time to add your manuscript to my queue, or to ask for a sample if we haven’t worked together yet.


#SaystheEditor Even Businesses Need Help


Dear Susan:

Weather your struggling to find like minded professional individuals, business ideas, career paths, or ways of developing additional income of your own we can help you maximize your results. With a great business system, business team, experienced knowledge, and technology all at your finger tips…


Three typos in the first ten words (and that’s being generous with the word count) and more to follow, I closed the invitation. It was ostensibly for a networking group, but let’s face it: who wants to network with people who can’t be bothered with such basics as grammar? Isn’t communication the foundation of networking? And good communication key to understanding each other?

I can’t hammer home the importance for everyone (myself included!) to use a good proofreader whenever you turn out writing that’s meant for public consumption. This person shot him/herself in the foot by sending out an invitation like this. And s/he’s not the only one who’s done this, either.

I see it daily. And I don’t understand why. Yes, you may think you don’t need to spend the money on editing. But guess what? You do. In the long run, you need to make sure every word is as strong as it can be, every comma, every synonym — every everything.

Yes, human editors miss things. Yes, computerized editors (oh, don’t use those!) miss things. Computers can’t pick up the nuances of human speech and communication. Humans are … well, we’re only human. My effectiveness goes down when I get tired (go figure). If we haven’t worked together before, I may struggle a bit as I pick up your voice. Both problems are pretty easy to correct.

So don’t be that person who sent me that invitation to join a business network. I took one look at it and decided that if the sender wasn’t professional enough to make sure s/he didn’t look like a doofus, his/her group wasn’t the sort of people I wanted to be associated with.

Although if I did join, imagine the business I could pick up…