Marry your Editor

In a previous post, Quick! Find an Editor! Go!, we had a lively conversation regarding writer resources. From this conversation, I gleaned these four tidbits:

1.Writer’s Digest.com. This link was provided by Serena(e) Artiste, and it has a lot of seminars and there is some free content which is probably meant to entice you to purchase the seminars. I didn’t locate a listing of editors, but I did sign up and will now get lots of adverts for seminars. And some free content!

2. http://pred-ed.com/. Preditors & Editors

Preditors and Editors, this was suggested by Ms. Brandy at Blood Toy and Russell J. Fellows.  This site is one I want to discuss in more detail, because it is the precursor to what I envision. You see, P&E was constructed back in the dark early days of the internet. As they say in the About page on that site,

Preditors & Editors was founded in July 1997 by Dave Kuzminski as a resource and a simple compendium for the serious writer, composer, game designer, or artist to consult for information, regardless of genre.

Web design has come a long way, baby. (Now women can smoke cigarettes and die of cancer, too! Thanks, Virginia Slims.) That is, if you look at the web site, you’re going to see coding that looks…  Let’s just say it’s not been redesigned for some time.  Nevertheless, the intent is good-hearted and there are extensive links.  Which one do you click first? I went with AAAAA BOB’S PLUMBING.  Alas, the link was dead.

The organization of the site is alphabetical. There is no categorization or any search widgets or any optimization. Back in the wild wild west days of the web, they frowned on pictures. Pictures slowed down website loading and the people with 2400 baud modems hated you. Times, they are a-changing.

This website, sort of like most churches I’ve seen, exists in a time-warp that takes us back to the days of 1997: The Backstreet Boys are singing “Quit Playing Games (with my heart)” and Elton John is making another gazillion dollars off Candle in the Wind.  Remember Jewel? Foolish Games. (The churches are usually still back in the 1950s. “We love hymns,” they say.) Time travel exists!

I digress. One of the things the site does well is warn against publishing scams. Thus, the predator part. Or Preditor. See what they did there?

They have umpteen zillions links, if you want to click through them.

The website does NOT seem optimized to reflect the giant sea change in Indy and e-publishing.  We’re more savvy out here, and we’re used to being able to sort our content of databases by more than alphabetical. I want a specific kind of editing, with a certain price range, and someone in my own currency. Quick, find it! Not with that website. This feels a lot like craigslist.

3. UK Artist’s Yearbook. Ah, the Artist’s Yearbook, now in it’s 114 edition. Or so. That’s a lot of £11 going in someone’s pocket. Or several someones. I haven’t seen it, though Vanessa-Jane Chapman told me about it. In a southern English accent. She says it’s splendid and lovely.  There’s articles and lists of resources and such.

4. Which lead me to the Writer’s market. (USA). Right. So the Writer’s Market, that’s the US equivalent of the Brit one above, and thus the idea that no good idea goes unpunished is supported.

Back to the website with editors information. Amidst the examination of such an object, Dave S. Koster pipes up (in that Alaskan drawl he has… do Alaskans drawl? I’m sure he will turn out to be from Iowa) and says, “The real question though is how do you find an editor you can work with and who won’t send you back something that really doesn’t help?”  That sent me to idea #2, which is to use dating software to match up authors with editors. Why not? Choosing a spouse and choosing an editor are similar ideas. While there’s some things about an editor that I might not look for in a wife, by changing the human factors that make up good matches, you can ask a flurry of questions and find ideal matches for professionals in the the Indy world.

The bare bones of such a website would be the information Preditors has on it. A greatly expanded database with coding to determine important things like price, and personality, nationality, schooling, experience, and a resume, all of them searchable by the end user would produce something that would create at least an ebay experience, if not an eharmony.com experience.  The first one, ebay of editors, is quite do-able. The second, that one would take some money and a team of programmers some time, and the payout isn’t there.

But the idea of a dating website could also be applied to authors. I know there’s a few sites that do this already, sort of, like goodreads and smashwords.  But how about a matchmaking site where we help you marry a book? You’re a reader, come in, tell us what you like, what you dislike, rate these books, and let’s match you up with some choice authors. The authors present us with their curriculum vitae, and the pedigree of their book. Who were the editors? Traditional or Indy? Can we buy it in paperback?

There’s something like 3 million books on amazon. That’s 3 BILLION words. I can’t read that many. You can’t read that many. But out there in the slushpile, there’s some gems and we don’t know it yet.

There’s the name for the website: SlushpileBooks.com.

5 Common Mistakes Authors Make that Cause Readers and Pesky Editors to Barf Out Loud

We have been discussing use of passive voice and one of the indicators of passive voice, the verb was, and I thought the topic warranted an expansive discussion. (As a side note: I initially wanted to write that sentence as “I thought an expansive discussion was warranted.” Do as I say, not as I do! I struggle daily with passive voice.)  You see, a few decades passed since I last attended a grammar class, and what you see here is the result of reading for forty-two years rather than careful correction by a small horde of English teachers. You’d think I’d be better at it. Reading and writing, that is.

English classes are dull.  The discussion of parts of grammar is dull. This kills it for me, right up to the point where I’m violating that grammar rule and need an answer. For that, we have the internets.

Here’s my list of mistakes authors make that cause readers to barf out loud:

1. Passive Voice.  Sure, it’s evil, all the time, and should be killed wherever it appears.

Or… not.  “By heavens, what, Pontius, are you saying?” you exclaim. I’ll elaborate.

Over here at Now Novel, there’s a post about passive voice. They say:

  • Passive voice error I – Many people make common grammar mistakes by assuming that a passive sentence is any sentence that uses a form of the verb “to be.” In fact, passive voice is simply a sentence in which the object appears as the subject of the sentence. The house was built in 1825.
  • Passive voice error II – Many people believe passive voice is always bad. In fact, passive voice can be used effectively to convey a certain rhythm or mood. It is also unavoidable when the person or thing that performed an action is unknown as in the previous example with the house.

There you go. Permission to use the passive. When your editor screams, tell her that Now Novel said it was okay to “be used effectively to convey a certain rhythm or mood.” And my mood is that I like writing in the passive.

The object appears as the subject of the sentence. That’s simple enough to eliminate, right? When they put it that way, it’s dead simple. I spend much of my time reversing these.

2. As If, so as to, in order to. No, Cher, not your retort in Clueless. Explaining too much. “What’s too much?” asks the head shrinker. “One person’s too much could be your just enough.” Fah, therapy! The Editor’s Blog explains.

Explaining too much or too often. Unless readers can’t possibly catch on without help, writers shouldn’t be explaining dialogue or actions. Tip-offs for explanations are phrases such as “so as to” and “in order to” and “as if.” If you find yourself writing sentences such as He peeked through the blinds to see who was inside the room or He said it with a little-boy voice so she wouldn’t take it too hard, you’ll want to make changes. Readers are smart—let them read intent and meaning into actions and dialogue.

Fix: Don’t explain. Make the action and dialogue convey the message. Search for words that introduce explanation and then rewrite.

This isn’t one I do.  Maybe. I think I need to go check it, now.

3. Commas make us barf. If you forget to put one in, it bugs us so much we’re sick. Really.

Sometimes you do a sentence, you do another.

That,  right there, is an evil comma splice! Kill it! Shoot it! You can either put a period in there, or stick in a connective conjunction. Connective conjunctions are for, as, by, or, and, nor, yet, and but. Go ahead, put one after the comma, and eliminate your lousy run-on sentence. Feel better now?

4. Adverbs. If it ends in ly, as Mark Twain says, just burn it with fire. I’m not sure where this hatred of adverbs stems from, but it’s real and you’d better be prepared to defend every one to the death. Your editor has a steak knife named “deathly.” And another named “Hallows.” Your editor likes Harry Potter a little too much.

5. Commas. Again. Use commas to separate more than two subjects, but don’t use them to keep the two subjects apart. It’s not

The author, and his editor were intensely sick.

Instead, it’s

The author and his editor were intensely sick.

If you want to use commas, add someone to the scene.

The author, his editor, and his wife’s therapist were intensely sick.

Don’t separate two actions of a subject with a comma.

No comma between the subject and its predicate. You’ll make it sad.

The world of commas needs a lot more than two lousy points, but I get fired up on this. I’m passionate about comma usage. I want to see you all employ those suckers with love, control, and joy.

What are the words and phrases you can’t wipe out of your own writing? What are the rules behind them?

Clint Agrees.
Clint Agrees.