Monday, September 18, 2017

What Do Editors Hate?


What Do Editors Hate? - Writer's

A piece of advice every writer should follow is to hire a professional editor to go through their work, once they have completed their book.
However, to actually prepare your manuscript for that stage, it’s a good idea to be aware of the common pitfalls that writer’s fall into. If you know what editors hate, you can make their lives easier and save you time and money too.
Not only is it good to look out for and fix the mistakes that editors hate before you send your book to them, but also for when you send your book to publishers and agents. If you want them to seriously consider your work, checking you have already eliminated any of these editors bugbears from your book before you send it off will give you a much better chance of success.
So what is it that editors hate? Let’s take a look.

No basic grasp of grammar or spelling
If every second word is a spelling mistake and every sentence is punctuated incorrectly, it’s going to take a huge effort and many hours to get through your book. This will mean editors have less time to concentrate on structure, character development and plot - elements which are important to receive feedback on. Do yourself a favour and run your manuscript through a spelling and grammar checker before you pass it to an editor.

Huge passages focusing on backstory
Having backstory is useful and a device to establish your characters and allow the readers insight into their past lives. However, if you focus too much on backstory both the editor and reader will get bored. Include details that are relevant and necessary - cut the rest out.

An entire chapter where the character is walking somewhere, driving somewhere or sitting in bed reminiscing
An excellent book will be fast paced and full of action - if a character spends too much time getting somewhere or reminiscing about something, this slows down the pace of your book - a pet peeve of editors.

Making your story overly dramatic will make it seem farcical and unbelievable. Readers need to buy into your story, to believe it - editors know that and so should you.

Making the same point over and over again
If you draw out a point laboriously or repeat it in different ways over and over again, it simply looks like you are trying to hit a word count rather than write a story that appeals to your readers. If you say something well, you only need to say it once.

Going into too much detail
Creativity is all about having poetic licence, and beautiful descriptions can be really affecting in a book and enhance your story significantly. However, when you spend an entire paragraph describing a vase in your characters living room, it better be seriously significant, otherwise you need to cut it down. Overwriting is a big no no for editors.

Silly inconsistencies
When you are editing and redrafting your novel, look out for inconsistencies. These can be anything from where a character is standing to the time of year. Inconsistencies are easy to make but will frustrate your editor as these should be picked up by you.

Repetitive vocabulary
If you continuously use the same descriptive word this will quickly get tiresome for your readers. Try to be unique and exciting with all your descriptions. If you know you overuse a word, try doing a ‘find and replace’ search of your manuscript so you can easily pick these up and change them.

Long passages of dialogue
Dialogue creates immediacy, can drive the action forward and reveals more about your characters. However, don’t turn every piece of dialogue into a massive speech or monologue. Use it as a device to break up the narrative instead.

Telling rather than showing
Editors hate it when you tell the reader something rather than showing them. Comb through your novel and pick up instances of when you are doing this - this will save your editor having to point them all out for you!

If you can go through your manuscript before you send it to an editor, agent or publisher and look out for these ten things, you’ll make their and your lives so much easier. So make sure you take the time to edit your book first thoroughly, and you’ll find you get so much more out of your editor and are more likely to have a positive response from a publisher too!

I'm now wondering how many of these I have done. And how I can find them. I visited this editor's site and left a message, but have not heard anything. This was the editor that bar owner in my town had employed for her memoir (she gave me the editor's site name).  Even though I have not yet met with an editor, I'm already feeling anxiety over an editor reading my memoir and finding examples of the points mentioned in this article. 

About that first point--I wonder if  this paragraph would count:

The daycare had no structured activities. The kids just wandered around on the dirt ground that was covered with gravel in various shades of grey. They played on the swings, slide and monkey bars, paved roads in the dirt on which they played with toy cars. Played tag or games like Cops and Robbers or Cowboys and Indians, or played house, always arguing over who got to play what parts. Playing hide-and-seek, crawling in and out of the gigantic monster-truck tires randomly placed on the playground on their sides, or the old steel barrels that were painted red or orange and placed on their sides to be used as tunnels. Climbing on and hiding inside the jungle gym. Lying on the hammock hanging between and shaded by two large trees that never seemed to be trimmed, playing in the clubhouses and forts, and in the large empty building behind the swings and under another of the large trees, and that was as big as a barn or a garage. Running relay races down the cellar-door cover, which was adjacent to the playhouse.
Can you see what I am getting at?

And the showing-not-telling one has always been difficult one for me to grasp. Once when I wrote something, my dad, who tends to get over critical about stuff I have written, immediately mentioned this point. And just recently, this came up in my memoir writing class. This one will be hard for me to detect.

I'm still hoping to find others who will want to read my story before I let an editor see it. But still to no avail. I only got some feedback from those to whom I had sent my original draft more than a year ago.


  1. Editors can definitely make a piece SO much stronger. And their feedback can HURT, seriously! But I always compare it to working out at the gym. You have to tear a muscle in order for it to grow back stronger...same with writing!

  2. You know, Jamie, that paragraph is really well written. My only thought would be to tighten it up just a little. But it's very visual. I really like it.
    Showing not telling is always challenging.

  3. Showing not telling is a pitfall for many. I suspect it is true because the point the author is trying to make is so very important to them.
    I hope you hear back from the editor soon.