Monday, 19 November 2012

My response to...

My response to:


I am a writer and an editor. When I first started writing I hated the thought of anyone messing around with my 'baby'. I self-published rather than be edited. I still have a very strong emotional attachment to that book so, even though now I cam see it has a few flaws and could probably be tightened up in a few places, I'd struggle to change it. However, what I have learned from writing and editing since, I think has improved my own writing tremendously. When I send stuff off to my editor, I look forward to getting it back as I know that any changes she suggests will only improve my book. Also, I have learned enough so that when I rigorously self-edit beforehand, there shouldn't be all that much she has to change.

I have discovered I suffer terribly from exclamation point-itis. I use far far too many! So she painlessly removes them for me, and my characters don't come across as quite so manic as they otherwise would.

As an editor, on the other hand, I have had some authors who are wonderful and some who defend every last cliché and adverb.

Those four rules in particular I would take issue with. It is not necessary to always write in US English, especially if one is a British writer and the book is set in Britain with British characters.

One POV - ridiculous!! Some of the best books I have ever read have multiple POVs. A single POV can be powerful if done well, but it is by no means necessary and can be detrimental and limiting.

And the tense used should be appropriate for the writing. The simple tense is not always correct or appropriate.

As for the adverb issue, there are many times where the writing IS improved by replacing a weak verb+adverb by a stronger verb. However, some adverbs are wonderful and help to set the scene beautifully. It all depends on context.

I do tend to strip out unnecessary dialogue tags, all those he saids and she saids, when one can tell perfectly well who is speaking, just get in the way and clutter up the work.

As an editor, if I read something and it pulls me out of the story, then it needs rewriting. The best writing draws you into the world the writer has created so much that you should not even be aware you are reading a book - you are there, in the story, with those characters.


  1. I am not sure of the implication of your "response" to the blog. You disagree with four rules, which she points out don't make sense.

    Whatever the intent (to add your own logic to the disagreement?) I agree with you both. Rules are simply guidelines to conventions that will ensure you don't put the reader off. There are many varied reasons to ignore the fool things.

  2. Great article, Julie! Right on. More editors should think as you do. Check out my recently released novel "The Fires of Waterland". We had some REAL battles over details, POV etc. Someone also tried to tell me "you can't have a flashback from a flashback", and characters can't have "nicknames". Go figure. I say if they want a chronological straight-jacket story and want to read on a grade six level, get a "Popeye" comic book. ~R