Edit Rant Wherein I Get a Little Crazy

I’ve been reading quite a lot lately, because I’m unemployed and have time on my hands and I’m not always in the correct mood to write, and I’ve been noticing some very irritating things in the books I’ve ploughed through.

Let’s start with something really famous: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I read the first two books of the trilogy and stopped cold, and I can’t even begin to tell you why except the writing style was starting to bug the crap out of me. Yes, I know it was translated from Swedish, but that’s still no excuse. I expect the translation was fairly close to the original, and by that, I mean all the stuff there in Swedish was still there in English, which tells me the original editor wasn’t doing his/her job as well they might have. You could easily have cut a third out of both books and improved the flow immensely.Β 

The number one rule of editing should be “Fix it so the reader never gets pissed off.” Pacing and flow is important, because if that isn’t right, the reader gets bored and starts losing interest. The Stieg Larsson books needed some serious editing, and yes, I know they sold a zillion copies, but I’m still entitled to an opinion. After reading the first book and then watching the original Swedish subtitled movie, I saw how nicely the screenwriter streamlined that tortuously twisted plot into something much more sleek and entertaining. That validated my assertion that the book(s) needed to be cut.

Moving on…I next read Hot Head by Damon Suede. Overall, an entertaining story with two likable main characters. There was some uneven pacing in the first half, but the second half took off like crazy. I had some quibbles about “straight” guys acting the way they did, and the last twenty percent of the novel, though immensely pleasing plot-wise, was too, too perfect/happy/fantastical. My complaint with this one: overuse of the phrase ‘medium-rare’ to describe a color. The first time you read that, you think, “Nice comparison.” The tenth time you read it, you think, “What the hell, use something else!” Oh, and let’s not forget typos. There were enough that I noticed, which is never good.

Bear, Otter and the Kid by T J Klune. Well-written but felt padded to me. Lots of repetitive scenes covering emotions that had already been put out there. I sometimes suspect this happens just to make sure they get their 60,000 words in so the book can go to print. Oh, and the kid? Way too sharp, I don’t care what his IQ is. Kids don’t talk like this nor are they that observant.

Ya know, I read Stranger in a Strange Land for the first time many years ago. Absolutely gripping book, despite it’s patriarchal point of view (which does bother me but I excuse because that was then and this is now), and when, some time later a new, uncut ‘author’s version appeared, I bought it. I wanted to see what had been left out. Guess what? That version SUCKED. The original editor for that novel did a terrific job. They should never have released the padded version. Instead, I pissed away twenty bucks on a book I’ll never read again.

Currently reading Cut and Run by Abigail Roux and Madaleine Urban, and it’s all I can do not to toss my Kindle at the wall in annoyance. I should explain: I read in gulps. I sit with a book for an hour or two or three, so things some people wouldn’t notice really start piling up for me. In this case, overuse of “smirk” and “eye rolling.” I keep wondering if I’ve accidentally landed in a Stephanie Plum novel by mistake. Also, the banter I found amusing during the first twenty pages is now wearing very, very thin.

My short story, Numbers, is 3500 words of great banter between two hot guys, but there is NO WAY that can be sustained in any entertaining way over the length of a novel. NONE. It becomes irritating really fast.

TYPOS. I keep stumbling across typos. While one or two are acceptable, a bunch is not. I’ve been through the editing process. I know how this works. We shall assume the writer goes through their manuscript multiple times, and then it often (but not always) gets handed to a respected friend to go through. After submission and acceptance, it goes through yet another edit and gets sent back to the author. After that phase, it goes to a line editor, who’s supposed to go through it with a fine-tooth comb, and THEN on to the proofreader. Finally, the writer gets a galley and is supposed to go through the book one more time with absolutely critical eyes.

HOW THE HELL DO ALL THESE TYPOS ESCAPE THE NOTICE OF THAT MANY EYES?

People make mistakes. I get it. But there’s no excuse for more than one or two typos in any published book.

Authors: Proof the crap out of your novel before you submit. Never assume typos and ‘there’ for ‘their’ will be caught. Publishers: Make sure your editors are worth what you’re paying them. Repetive words/phrases DO drive readers nuts (I cannot be the only one!).

In my second to last manuscript, AJ caught me using the word ‘return’ over and over. I didn’t see it, but he did. That’s part of what an editor does: See the things that will make the reader start to grit their teeth and not want to finish the book. Fixing grammar and typos and sentence and paragraph structure is a big part of it, but please don’t make me read a word or phrase over and over and over until I want to chuck the book, because it will influence my decision regarding the purchase of another book by the same author/publisher.

I have hundreds of paper books in my place, and I don’t remember any of them ever making me as crazy as some ebooks have of late. If this business is to survive–and I want and need it to!–then professionalism has to go up a few notches. The product released has to be better. Don’t make me, the reader, stumble over crappy sentences and typos and word overuse. I just want to read a good story. MAKE IT GOOD.

Okay, I’m finished now, and if I’ve made any typos in this entry that a reader catches, shove it up your ass because this is a blog, not a published book, and I’m not running it by AJ before I post it. ;/ However, I will say I read this through at last three times; any errors made are mine and mine alone.

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About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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17 Responses to Edit Rant Wherein I Get a Little Crazy

  1. Chris says:

    I have that same question about typos. πŸ™‚ And pacing – too often it feels as if an author’s still in the high school/college term paper mindset. Write write write toward a word count, and then zOMG! I almost have enough words! Hurry up and cram in an unsatisfyingly short ending. Blech.

    *ahem* I guess you weren’t the only Ranty McRanterson here today. πŸ˜‰

    • I go through cycles when I think self-publishing is the only way to go. I like the idea of having total control over my “product” from start to finish. For instance, I submitted cover art for the last two accepted titles (which may or may not be used). I like messing about in Photoshop, and a lot of the covers I see don’t do a thing for me.

      I really don’t like faces on covers. Faces tell the reader what the characters look like, when in fact, they tell readers what the cover artist thinks the characters look like. I’d rather leave this up to the readers’ imagination.

      • Chris says:

        But… but… how will I use your covers for the Misadventures then?! πŸ˜‰

        • LOL!

          I’ve seen those Misadventure covers. They are hilarious beyond words!

          The unfunny thing is that covers do matter, and if they suck, your title will sell less.

          • Chris says:

            There’s even a Listopia list on GRs somewhere that’s for ugliest m/m covers…

          • Why does this not surprise me? Oh yeah…because I’ve seen some really ugly covers.

            While art is subjective, sometimes a piece is just really ugly. It might get you noticed but it won’t sell your title. Better to have an inoffensive cover than one that makes the viewer gag and swallow and move on to something else.

          • Chris says:

            And if you troll the archives at Jessewave for the ugliest covers contest, it’s likely your eyes will melt…

          • The author usually has no say in the cover. The publisher gives an assignment to one of their staff artists and if it’s crap, you dare not say much because, well, there are a lot of other authors who want to get published who won’t raise a stink over a shit cover. So you play nice, keep your mouth shut, and hope your story is strong enough to overcome a bad cover.

            Often, it isn’t.

          • Chris says:

            True that. I actually do cover model consultations for a publisher and some authors, just so they have an idea how overexposed a particular cover model is…

            If you aren’t following the Rainbow Awards cover art contest, you definitely should – it’s fascinating to see what publishers submit. O.o

          • Yeah? This is still all so new to me. I don’t know enough yet. I see everything as it relates to me and my manuscript, which I suppose is totally normal. The writer loops are adding to my education, though. πŸ™‚ And your site has revealed some things I never knew! Like the overexposed blond cover model. LOL

          • Chris says:

            Erm… WHICH overexposed blond? Slave Boy? Wind in Hair Guy? πŸ˜€

          • LOL I’m not sure. I’d know him if I saw him. Medium-long hair, smile, boring as hell…?

          • Chris says:

            Ah! Boring Blond Guy. πŸ˜€

  2. Reblogged this on M/M Paranormal Romance and commented:
    I love that I’m not the only one who goes on book rants πŸ™‚

    • I have my days. πŸ™‚

      Repetitious words and phrases, crappy sentences, etc. kind of drive me crazy, and I don’t think it’s because I’m a writer. I read a book expecting to be entertained. I really do check my brain at the door, wanting to be captured by a story. When I keep stumbling over poor editing choices, that’s BAD. I had to give up on the last one. I simply could not fight my way through the shit. It’s a shame, too, because I think this story could have been outstanding, and I’m told it’s popular, as are the rest of the books in the series, but I will not read any more of them.

  3. *chuckle* You’re right and I agree one hundred percent with you. The only thing I could add is that probably many things are more irritating to you because your brain has been trained (by experience) to recognize mistakes more easily than a common reader. And being a professional and responsible writer makes you more strict about many details surrounding the editing process of a book. πŸ™‚

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