Archive for category Editing

The Elipses – When to Use Them and When Not to Use Them

You know what the ellipses is, the [ … ].

Do you know what it is used for?

Often in blogs (including here sometimes) it is used to indicate a trailing off of thought or a pause, in a way that a comma or semi-colon might be used. This is an informal usage of the ellipses and is fine for informal settings, like many blogs.

When you are writing a book – whether fiction or non fiction – such informal use of the ellipses is a bad mistake, and one that I see many authors make.

How do authors often use the ellipses?

Authors often use the ellipses to indicate a pause, an insecurity, or to indicate that the thought or prose has trailed off or a character has been interrupted.

Examples:

A Pause.

She was entrancing … beautiful … sultry … and everything he wanted in a woman.

An Insecurity

Amanda did not know what to think. She was … confused. Why was this happening now? She knew she did not deserve this … did she?

Trailing off or interrupted.

He was on his way to the store. He needed chips, beer, and some kind of dip. He entered the store when she appeared, drawing his attention from his shopping list …

Each of these are examples of ways that I see [ … ] used a lot in fiction writing, and every single one of them is wrong.

How should the ellipses be used?

The ellipses in formal writing (this includes fiction writing) should only be used to indicate omitted text.

Example:

Full text.

John went to the store today to buy fruits and vegetables when he was struck by a car.

With omission.

John went to the store today … when he was struck by a car.

What is important to note is that the meaning is not changed. If you are relaying information you were told about John going to the store and being struck by a car, it is not important to know that he was going to buy fruits and vegetables. When relaying it in print, we indicate the [ … ] to tell our reader that some information is missing, but it is not important to what we are talking about. You never omit key details with the [ … ] as this is dishonest writing.

But in the examples above, the author could have been omitting thoughts when using the [ … ].

This is true. This is also a very bad thing to do in writing. The [ … ] is not a time for you to be lazy as a writer. If you are struggling with what your character is thinking as he talks about his ideal woman or she wrestles with her insecurities, then step back and think. You are probably struggling with it because your character is struggling with it. Think about what that struggle looks like and feels like. The way it feels to you is probably the way it feels you your character. Give detail instead of [ … ]. Why? Because you are omitting important details and crippling your storytelling.

In the case of ending an interrupted or trailed off thought/scene – well. In the case of an interruption, simply use a [ – ]. You will notice that programs like Word like to elongate the [ – ], but if you are interrupting dialogue, this can become messy. What I do is this:

He said, “I am so angry – a”

WordPress does not do this, but if you were in Word, when you space after the [ – ] and type the “a” you see the [ – ] elongate. End the quotation after the “a” as normal. Then simply back space to remove the “a” and the extra space so that your statement looks like this:

He said, “I am so angry -” (with Word leaving the [ – ] all elongated and pretty.)

In the case of a thought or scene trailing off. Sometimes it is fine to simply end the sentence with a [ – ] and no period. Other times, it is best to actually show the character’s thoughts and attention shifting away from what he or she was doing and onto something else. It depends on context. Generally, if a sudden thought, action, or dialogue is to follow the trailing off, then a [ – ] is fine. If you are going to move on to new descriptions with no sudden action, then you should describe the shift in words.

Now you know why you are probably using the [ … ] wrong.

Stop doing it. Write what you mean to write, use proper punctuation, and happy writing everyone.

 

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From the Editor

I’m starting a new category on the blog: From the Editor.

This will cover things that I discover as an editor while I am working. These are mistakes that I see frequently in writing that authors simply should not do.

It isn’t that I don’t want to do my job as an editor.

It is that you should, if you are going to be a writer, learn the craft of writing. That means learning basic rules of grammar and punctuation. It also means learning when to use adverbs and adjectives, and understanding why they should and should not be used in certain situations.

That being said, first post coming up soon about ellipses.

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On Editing w/pro-tips – Quotations

So I’m editing now.

Stuff other than my own work!

As I have been working, I have noticed a few habits writers sometimes have.

I’ve lived in my own little bubble of my own writing for a long time, so I’m really only able to talk about this now.

First, understand that as you write, you will have spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors. That is acceptable as no one is perfect. Amazingly enough, some of those errors will remain even after a professional editor gone over your work.

Again, no one is perfect. My child loves taking time out of her work to point out typos in her workbook. This is her school work, the thing that is supposed to help her learn, and it is full of typos.

So, you get the idea. Your work will probably never be completely free of errors. That is just how it goes.

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Proofreading

The final type of edit is the Proofread.

Often times this gets confused with a Mechanical Edit and as both an author and an editor, this aggravates me to no end. Most people, however, are not to blame for this mistake. You can blame your high school English teacher and often times your college professors (who should have known better).

By the time your story is ready for Proofreading, it is done. All of the other edits are complete. You are now proofreading your final copy, the Proof that has come back to you from your publisher of choice, be that an indie platform or a publishing house.

Proofreading involves making sure that the proof looks the way you intend for it to look. Are sentences broken up in odd ways? Are margins correct? Are whole parts of the page missing? Is the cover smooth and visually appealing?

Yes, some mechanical things may be found in proofreading, but that is not actually the purpose of the proof read. It is simply making sure that the final has come together well. Is the story formatted properly on the page? Does it read well in an e-reader? Is the font style clear and comfortable on the eyes for print or electronic format? Is the font the proper size for the eyes of the intended audience? Is formatting correct for illustrations and are they captioned properly?

Headers and footers should be inserted properly. The copyright pages should be formatted correctly, as should any attributions and acknowledgements. Page numbers and author/title should also be correct as should the title page.

For electronic formats, links should work properly. This includes the table of contents as well as any external links to things like author websites and social networking.

And that, friends, is Editing 101.

I’m going to return to talking about editing again soon. I’ll be offering some tips for writers having to do the editing themselves and some survival tips for those working with an editor that I have learned along the way.

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Format Editing

This is one of the last stages of editing before a book or story is actually published. Who does this type of editing depends. Traditionally published books and magazines have their own editors to do this for the author. Independent authors and vanity presses often put this onto the author, who may do it themselves or hire editors.

In a publishing house or magazine, the Format Edit includes three types of editing. For our purposes, looking at this from the self-publishing, independent author perspective, I prefer to put them under one umbrella. To understand how to properly format your book and have it ready for print, however, it is important to look at what is involved in each sub-edit.

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The Mechanical Edit

Hello everyone. Many apologies for not being back in a little while to get up the next Five Types of Editing installment. I have been very busy with the release of The Shulim Cycle Book of Susan and lots and lots of editing work. Now that I have a moment, however, I wanted to pick up where we left off: The Mechanical Edit.

The Mechanical Edit is usually the edit that authors look at and say “I hate editing.” This is a line by line edit, however it is not looking at sentence structure, voice, and transition. Instead, the Mechanical edit is concerned with four primary aspects of the work:

  • Grammar – Noun/verb agreement, proper use of prepositions, etc. Did you use words correctly – Their/there/they’re, lie/lay, for example.
  • Punctuation – Are commas, semi-colons, and periods used correctly? Are quotations punctuated properly?
  • Spelling – Did you spell words correctly? This catches not only misspellings, but also words spelled correctly, just not in context. Examples include no and not, though and thought, etc.
  • Specific Mechanical Needs – Citations, captions, and text separations are also included in the mechanical edit.

The Mechanical or Copy Edit is just what it sounds like. It is the mechanical form of the written word, making sure everything is smooth and correct. It is often called Copy Editing because it is the editing step that leads from manuscript to copy – or print.

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Line Editing

Line Editing, also known as Stylistic Editing, is just what it sounds like – working over the story line by line. This is the first edit that a story goes through that involves examining the Writing Craft. In the writing process, everything up to this point has been focused primarily on the Fiction Craft.

This is a very difficult, very time-consuming edit. It is not something that can or should be rushed. All works should be put through a Line Edit. How many changes the editor will need to do will depend on the writer. Some writers are very good at the Writing Craft; others are not. All writers sit on a spectrum. It is the job of the Line Editor to make every writer look like a genius.

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Developmental Edit

So when I introduced this series, the Five Types of Editing, I mentioned that writing involves really two types of craft – Fiction Craft and Writing Craft. The edit that I’m going to talk about today is what helps build and strengthen the story through the first of those crafts, and that is the Developmental Edit. This has a few other names, depending on the editor. Developmental is the most common I have found. Another common name is the Substantive Edit.

Several types of edits make up the Developmental Edit, and each of these edits are their own skill set. I put the following type of edits under the Developmental Edit umbrella:

  • Project Editing – Coordination of the project from beginning to end
  • Structural Editing – Content and structure of the manuscript
  • Indexing – listing names, places, clothes, residences, concepts, etc.
  • Fact Checking/Reference Editing – Do you include references to poems and songs, artwork, places, etc? Are these referenced correctly and are facts about them true?
  • Picture Research – Are you including illustrations in your work? If so, where will they go? How will you reference them? Do you have the adequate permissions?
  • Rewriting – Just that: rewriting the work. This can also include rewriting other shorter snippets of stories into the new work.

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The Five Types of Editing

It is that time again. It is NaNoWriMo, also known as that time when writers find themselves blocked and removed from the social networks of friends who are tired of reading things like “Oh wow! I got 1,000 words today,” “Hey look, I’m at 9,000 words. Only 41,000 to go,” and “Why can’t I write today? I have only 2,700 words and it is November 29th!”

As it is National Writing Month, this is a good time to introduce your favorite new writer to editing, and for those of you who have been doing it a while, to brush up on just what editing is.

When we say “editing” what do we mean?

Truth be told, you have to ask the person talking about the editing to know. The type of editing that a person is talking about will depend greatly on the work, and where that work is in the writing process. We have some different names for types of editing, but labels aside, they pretty much mean the same thing, and they boil down to five basic types of edits:

  • Developmental Edit
  • Line Edit
  • Mechanical Edit
  • Format Editing
  • Proofreading

I’m going to be talking about each of these in some detail in this series, The Five Types of Editing. You can see that series here at The Writer’s Manifest and as contribution to StreetWraith Press.

Before I begin talking about editing, however, I want to talk about the difference between the Writing Craft and Fiction Craft.

Oh, there is a difference.

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Oh My Gosh, I Have a Blog!

It has been since September 10 since I’ve been here?

Can that actually be right?

Okay, to be fair, a lot has happened in 2 months. I’m finishing up a book. I’ve moved four states, and I’m launching an editing career.

….

Yes, you heard that right. The woman who hates to edit her own stuff – because it is so grueling have to read, re-read, and then re-read again – is editing. Why? Because I know how much writers hate to have to edit their work. I am happy, therefore, to offer a little of myself to help fellow authors get their editing done.

That I get paid for it is nice as well.

To get my name out there as an editor and build up a portfolio of work besides my own, I have launched gigs on Fiverr.com. If you know someone who needs some short works edited, please … check me out.

Eventually I’ll have my own site up for longer works, but right now, start small.

Since I’m all edit-like now, I’ll be posting up some stuff about editing very soon – like tomorrow maybe.

So I’m back. You can keep coming back again.

Oh, and don’t forget that Book of Susan will be coming out this month!

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