Monday, September 22, 2014

Another Week in the Life of an Editor 2

by Alycia Morales

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be an editor? Do you need a Bachelor's Degree in English? A Master's Degree in Storytelling? Superpowers?

Sometimes I find myself wondering what it's like to work in various careers. Forensics sounds intriguing to me. But keep me away from the hospital surgery units. Police work could be exciting. I enjoy shooting, just not at people. I love music and do a decent job of promoting others and their work. Sometimes I wonder what I would have done if I'd finished my Music Business degree. My professor said I had a knack for figuring artist royalties. I hope that gift translates into figuring author royalties. You know, for that day I publish my novels.

"But what does it look like to be an editor?" you ask.

I ask you this: Do you self-edit? If so, that's a big part of the job.

As an editor, I spend many days putting aside what I'd like to be doing with my own writing to assist others in making their writing shine. At the heart of my business is my desire to perfect my authors' pages. What does that mean?

Training them to show, not tell. Oftentimes new writers will tell their story with inactive verbs, allow outside objects to act on their characters rather than have their characters affect the world around them, and explain every single detail down to the color of the nail polish on the character's fingernails, leaving no room for readers' imaginations to kick in.

Searching for things that will jolt the reader out of their fictional dream, such as information dumps (again, too many details or supplying a history lesson on a particular aspect of their story), preaching (no one likes to be told how they should think - save it for your soapbox), and repetition (boring - I'll go to sleep now).

Combing the manuscript for spelling errors, misuses of homonyms (those words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings - you know, like there, their, and they're), incorrect punctuation (especially ellipses, commas, and quotation marks), and other miniscule details that most readers will notice.

Formatting the manuscript. Has the author correctly formatted their scripture references? How about the margins on the pages, the indents, the titles and subtitles, the font (a lot of manuscripts come to me with multiple fonts instead of one), and even the format of the apostrophes throughout the book. Formatting can take a huge chunk of editing time...

Crafting their story. Is there a complete character arc? Is the dialogue natural and believable? Is the story believable? Are all five senses represented? Does the story flow well? Are there hooks? Do I want to keep turning the page, or have I lost interest in the character's plight? Is there enough conflict and are all conflicts resolved by the end of the book? Does the middle sag? Does the ending satisfy the reader? There is so much to learn sometimes...

These are a few things I am looking to cover when I'm editing a novel or non-fiction book. When I sit down at my computer and pull up a client's manuscript, I am paying close, detailed attention to every jot and tittle on every page. I want them to have the best manuscript possible before they approach an agent or acquisitions editor in hopes of a sale. And if I'm working for a publishing house, I'm making every best effort to be certain my client's manuscript is in tip-top shape before it sits on a digital shelf at Amazon or a tangible shelf at Barnes and Noble.

Tweetables:
What does an editor do when they sit with your manuscript? A peek at a week in the life... @AlyciaMorales http://tinyurl.com/pnmvcav {Tweet This}

What an editor does for work. A look at the editing life with @AlyciaMorales  http://tinyurl.com/pnmvcav {Tweet This}

Is this all there is to the life of an editor? Not even close. This is just one facet. To learn more, join me October 6 for another behind-the-scenes look at a week in the life of an editor.

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