Have We Gone Overboard?
Do readers really care how many times an author uses “was?” Does passive voice…those naughty “have beens, had seen, etc., really stop anyone dead in their tracks and detract from the story? In small press, head-hopping is a horrible faux paus, punishable by instant rejection, but Nora Roberts does it with style and flair in her stories. One has to wonder why each month brings a new focus to a supposed problem in writing.
Does anyone really fling a book across the room if affect comes before cause… For example…someone jumps at a slamming door? Rules dictate that the door must slam before someone can jump. Are we that analytical in our reading?
All I know is that for years I read book after book after book, and I read for the pleasure of the story, the plot, the characters, the romance. I can’t recall EVER reading with an editorial eye until I became an author. Now, after having gone through so many editorial sessions, I can’t enjoy a book because I’m searching the content for something the author did wrong. My pet peeve this month is “to phrases.” For example… “He bent to kiss her.” In this instance, “to kiss” shows intent on his part. Why not just say, “he bent and kissed her?” Okay…does it really make any difference in the big scheme of writing? Have editors applied their own pet peeves to the ever growing list of “no nos?” Those who write regency use a lot of “to phrases,” but since I don’t write in that genre, I have no idea why, but it seems to be the norm.
Writing has become even more difficult with the inception of new rules applied by various houses. There is no consistency. Just as we have to jump through hurdles with agents, we now have to discover the nuances of each publisher when it comes to editing rules. My complaint is that sometimes when rules are so stringent, the author’s voice is lost in the mix. I don’t mind an editor pointing out problem areas and making suggestions, but I do dislike having someone try to rewrite my book in a style that isn‘t ME. We all put our own stamp on our work, and I like my books to display mine.
In closing, I want to add that editing is perhaps one of the most underappreciated jobs in publishing. It’s pretty thankless and certainly not a position that pays well. Yet, if the author and editor don’t mesh, then the manuscript is going to suffer. To my fellow authors: don’t be afraid to ask for a new editor if you can’t find a happy medium with the one assigned you. Editors are sort of like buses. There are plenty in the “garage,” and you want to get on one that’s going in the right direction.
Please leave a comment about your feelings on editing. I’m interested to know if I’m the only one who has noticed a definite changeover the years.
Oh, and since I’m not shy about promoting, I hope you’ll visit my website at http://www.gingersimpson.com and see what’s new for me. My latest two releases, Hurricane Warning (Muse it Up Publishing) Amazon and First Degree Innocence Smashwords are available now.
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