The Top Ten

Every August for over a decade, I’ve walked into a classroom full of (mostly) eager freshmen and spent the next few months teaching them to write. During that time, I’ve developed a few “tips” that I tell students to help avoid a “look-I’m-new-to-college” faux pas. I was thinking (as I was editing, of course) that many of these apply not only to the relationship between professor and student but also to the relationship between editor and writer.

When you work with someone, no matter what the capacity, you are creating an unspoken contract. It’s not legally binding, I’d imagine, but it’s one of those things sort of like the “bro code” that you really don’t want to mess up. But, often we do because we don’t know any better.

So, here are my top ten things that you might learn as a freshman in college that also apply […]

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Quick-Tip Tuesday: Self-Editing Redux

As I’ve mentioned here plenty of times in the past couple of months, I’m in the process of editing my first series, the LonTobyn Chronicle. The Author’s Edit of Children of Amarid, the first volume, has recently been released by Lore Seekers Press; I’ve just finished my revisions of book II, The Outlanders, which should be out in early October; and I’ve begun work on the third book, Eagle Sage. We’re hoping to release it in December.

When discussing self-editing with less experienced writers, I often start by saying that the secret is creating distance between the writing experience and the editing experience. Without that distance, the manuscript feels stale, and I’m unable to see the mistakes I might have missed while drafting the book. And, for me at least, the best way to facilitate that distancing is to put the manuscript away for a while.

Clearly, not everyone has […]

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Friday Fundamentals: Choosing the Right Editor

Happy Friday, friends!

This time last week I was just starting a fabulous weekend at ConGregate, one of my favorite conventions, and thinking about the panel I was to sit on later that night: Finding the Right Editor.

It was a great panel, or at least I thought so. Sharon Stogner, Leona Wisoker, and I were the panelists discussing what a writer needs to consider when hiring a freelance editor. Since I talked a good bit about Magical Words during that panel, I thought I’d share some of what we discussed.

We primarily focused on hiring editors for either self-publishing or when looking for a publisher and/or agent since a lot of this doesn’t apply so much to publisher-assigned editors. Some does, so take what you want.

We compared finding an editor to dating, which actually works out really well.

Decide you want a date:

First, […]

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Who Am I?

Late last week, I received the edits for a short story I wrote for an upcoming anthology. The editor began by apologizing for it taking so long, and said, “I tried to concentrate on the stories that looked like they need the most editing first. So I guess the delay is a good sign.” Sounds like a compliment, yes? That’s because it is. So you’d probably laugh at me when I say that my first thought was He’s just saying that because I’m friends with the editor who invited me to write for the project.

Which is stupid. But that’s what imposter syndrome makes you do – think stupidly.

Diana Pharoah Francis talked last week about Imposter Syndrome, and how crippling it can be. When I sold Mad Kestrel, every time I got an email from my editor about this rewrite or that suggestion, there was a tiny voice in […]

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Quick-Tip Tuesday: Learning From Inexperience

Not so long ago, I posted here about revising my early work. I’m preparing for the re-release of my first series, the LonTobyn Chronicle (more on that later) and so have been editing the books: cutting adverbs, strengthening my prose with more forceful verb constructions, and making the writing more concise and direct. You can find the post I wrote about this here. And you can also read Joshua Palmatier’s post from June 28, because he’s been doing much the same thing with his work.

I want to return to the process in this post, because I’m now almost finished editing The Outlanders, the second LonTobyn book. The Outlanders has long been among my favorites of all my books, not because I think it’s the best I’ve written, or even one of the top two or three. It’s not. Rather, I’ve always loved this book because it exceeded my expectations […]

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Friday Fundamentals: Style Sheet

Keeping a style sheet.

To ensure consistency, for each manuscript the editor must keep an alphabetical list of words or terms to be capitalized, italicized, hyphenated, spelled, or otherwise treated in any way unique to the manuscript. Changes that are made simply for consistency with house style need not be noted on the style sheet.

Special punctuation, unusual diacritics, and other items should also be noted on the style sheet. Not only the author but also the publisher may need to refer to the style sheet at various stages of editing and production.

CMoS, 16th ed., p. 72

One of my personal pet peeves as an editor is inconsistency. The tiniest details are the things I will go back over a manuscript (often using CTRL + F) and look for specifically, even after I think I’m done with it.

So, I create a style sheet […]

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Quick-Tip Tuesday: Joshua Palmatier on “The Mighty Red Pen”

For today’s Quick-Tip Tuesday post, I welcome Joshua Palmatier, writer and editor par excellence, and a frequent contributor to Magical Words.

*****

We’re coming up on the release of my second “Ley” novel, THREADING THE NEEDLE, and David B. Coe asked me to stop by and give you all a Quick Tip for Quick Tip Tuesday. So my quick tip for this Tuesday is: How to Cut a Significant Number of Words from Your Manuscript that You Thought Was Done.

Here’s the situation: THREADING THE NEEDLE had already undergone three revisions—my own personal revision, a revision prompted by my agent, and a revision prompted by my editor. That’s generally the last revision before the book hits copy edits and page proofs, where nothing really significant is changing (for the most part), just typos, smoothing out sentences, continuity error corrections, etc. So imagine my surprise when I get an email from […]

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