Archive for March, 2012


I went to see a hypnotist today, hoping that he could magically reduce the size of my behind.

I settled myself in the big chair, we chatted, then he started. He put on rain sounds and chimes and started talking me into relaxation exercises. Fine. Then he wanted me to imagine a cloud had snuggled up to me, and was supporting me, all warm and comfortable, just like a big chair.

“I’m on a big comfortable chair, can I just imagine that?”

“No. Visualize the cloud.” So we continued. I was on a tropical island, and I could see the sea below and I started to walk down through the tropical forest towards the sea…

“Excuse me. What insects are on this island?”

“What?”

“Well, I react badly if I’m bitten, and tropical islands tend to have lots of insects and snakes.”

Next I had to visualise a beautiful lake, and I was sitting on a soft rock beside it, dangling my hands in the water, watching the ripples…

“Rocks aren’t soft.

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And if I’m sitting on a rock, I can’t reach the water. My arms aren’t that long.”

His voice was going all tight and clipped by now. “You’re in a beautiful stately home, and there’s a balcony, with ten marble steps leading down to a beautiful garden. You go down the first marble step. One…”

“Sorry, Marble steps? Would you really have marble steps in a garden? What happens when it rains?”

That was the point where he turned off the rain sounds and the chimes, handed me back my money and told me to go away.

I did offer to edit his scripts so they would be more plausible, but for some reason, he just wanted rid of me.

I’m blaming all the editing I’ve been doing this week.

Bodybuilder’s dessert

100ml egg white

40ml liquid L-Carnitine

 

Put the egg white and liquid L-Carnitine in a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy.

Turn into two containers and freeze.

That’s it.

 

If you want, you can fold a little yogurt into the whisked mixture to make it a little more solid. Crushed berries optional.

 

Editors: myths, misapprehensions and mistakes

Myth: No good writer needs an editor.

Fact: all writers need an editor. The better writers know how to work with an editor to produce the best book, but there’s a reason so many best-selling authors thank thier editors on the dedication page.

 

Myth: Once I get accepted by a publisher, the editor will do everything.

Fact: Are you in for a shock! When you start working with an editor, you’ll be putting in more writing hours than when you were writing the book in the first place.

 

Myth: Editors fix typos and punctuation mistakes, and I can do that myself with Word.

Fact: And so says most of the unpublished writers out there. Catching typos is only a tiny part of what an editor does.

 

Myth: Editors don’t really know about what real readers want.

Fact: Editors are the most educated readers around. They not only know what is selling, they know why it’s selling, and they also know what’s wrong with your MS that will stop it selling. Trust your editor. She’s not trying to produce a bad book.

 

Myth: I don’t need to worry about grammar or punctuation because the editor will fix it.

Fact: You don’t need to worry about grammar and punctuation

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because no-one will publish your book. It’s your job to sort out that stuff. If you can’t write good English, you will not get published. Even if you hire an independent copy editor to fix your grammer and misspellings, you’ll find that the worse your writing, the higher the price will go.

 

Many unpublished writers have a vague notion that once a publisher accepts them, their precious manuscript will go to an editor who will work her magic, and make it perfect.

Wrong!

To be fair, in the past, there have been a few big name authors with iron-clad contracts whose editors did just that. Raymond Carver’s short stories would not have been nearly so minimalist without his editor’s help. But those days are gone. Now, editors have specific jobs and it isn’t to rewrite your story.

There are two distinct forms of editing, structural and copy editing.

A Structural Editor is the one you are going to hate. Her job is to take your fat book, and find the thin book inside that is trying to get out. She will read your entire book, and tell you what you need to do to make it better. Trust me, this will hurt.

You’ve just sent in what you thought was a perfect story, and she comes back and tells you all the things that are wrong with it. What do you mean, plot holes? And of course you need every single one of those one hundred characters. And the reader has to have a lesson in astrophysics before he can understand the dilemma facing your hero.

When you get your MS back from a structural editor, it will have red tracker comments all over it, saying things like “The story begins on page fifteen, cut everything before,” and “Point of view shifts all over this chapter. Find and eliminate,” and “Scientific/historical inaccuracies. Research and fix,” and “This bit is boring,” and “Not nearly enough emotional development here. Add another thousand words of emotion.”

Then you have to go and do all that stuff. She’s not going to do it for you.

You’ll probably have a time limit in which to do it, because she has other books she is working on and limited time. When you get your edited MS back to her, she’ll point out any new or remaining problems, and expect you to fix them.

Finally, your book will go to a Copy Editor, who will find misspelled words, grammar errors, poor punctuation, clunky phrasing, and small continuity mistakes. Depending on how she works, she may just fix them herself. If there are a lot of clumsy word choices or phrases or continuity errors, she’ll point them out, suggest ways to deal with them, and let you fix them yourself.

She will also introduce the publisher’s house style, and tell you what it is, so you know next time.

If you are planning to self-publish, or are being published by a small publishing house, you need an editor even more than someone who has an established history as an author.

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