• alisonahouse

3 Things Your Editor Wants You to Stop Doing | House Blog

[Full disclosure – that title was written to be clickbait. It's more like: 3 Common Errors That Slow Down Editors, but that didn't have the right 'oomph'.]

Aside from writing, I also edit books. I've been editing my own work for a long time, but over the past few years I've taken to editing other people's work. Not only is it fun to get a glimpse of a new work, but it allows me to stretch my nit-picking muscles.


Over the years, I've noticed that there are some common occurrences that pop up in multiple books. And while they're not terrible, they are things that slow down the editing process and might require an editor to put more thought into something than it deserves.


So, here are a few things that could make your editor's life a lot happier (or to keep an eye out for if you're editing your own work):


*Please note: all editors are different, and not all genres are the same. Some conditions apply.

**Note to authors: this isn't about your book. (Unless it is.)

1) Not Being consistent With Capitalization.


This was something I struggled with when I wrote The Six Elemental – what words should I capitalize? Were there too many? Should I capitalize fewer words? As it went through numerous re-writes, I changed my mind many times before finally settling on some kind of rule. It's okay to change your mind, but once you decide on what's going to be capitalized, go through your work and make sure it's consistent.


For example: if an editor's reading your work and they come across the word Kivit, they'll think that it's meant to be capitalized, so when they see it again as kivit, they'll capitalize it and move on. But if the next thing they see is kivit again, they'll think that their first instinct was wrong and that it should be lowercase, and then they'll have to go back and correct that. If it keeps changing, they run the risk of going insane.


[Helpful Hint: use the search feature to find any words that might need capitalizing (or lowercasing).]

2) Changing Formatting Styles.


How do your characters think?

Do they think like this?

'Or do they think like this?'

Is it like this, they think.


Thinking is the one I come across the most, but this can apply to other things like dialogue or switching perspective or flashbacks. If you start out with one style and change your mind part of the way through writing, go back and correct what needs to be corrected. That way your editor can concentrate on other things and not style formatting.

3) Constantly Changing Characters.


If you describe what a character looks like, remember it for the next time you describe that character. Unless it's someone who changes their appearance constantly (which we should be able to ascertain), it'll bring editors to a halt wondering, 'Huh... I thought they were a blonde... Were they always supposed to be a redhead?'


Also, if you have a character you've described who was only meant to make one appearance but ended up showing up again, keep their look consistent (unless there's a reason for the change). Spreadsheets or character documents can help wonders with this, or use the search feature to find what you've already written about them.


This also counts for clothing. Unless you've described an outfit change, keep it consistent. If your character is wearing pants, they shouldn't suddenly switch to a skirt. Of if they take their cloak off when entering a room, they shouldn't be wearing it two seconds later.

Of course, we all make mistakes and overlook things, so don't worry if your writing isn't perfect. After all, that's why editors exist.

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