7. Don’t Screw Up Your Own Story

Sounds logical enough. What idiot would screw up their own story? A lot of idiots, as it turns out. This one pisses off your editor, but at least it’s actually their job to deal with these kinds of problems. And by problems, we’re mainly talking about plot and character inconsistencies, and timeline issues.

This problem is much more forgivable than the spelling and grammar mistakes. Especially when the story is very long and intricate; issues are bound to come up. A great way for a writer to be proactive and fix these issues before an editor has to, is by using beta readers.

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Beta readers, or first readers, are great at pointing out these mistakes—as well as things that don’t make sense. And best of all, most beta readers volunteer! Just go on a writing forum, or social media, and ask. But don’t expect all of them to read your work in a timely manner.

If you need your work read quickly and by a deadline, make sure to say so before letting the person read it. Also, be upfront with the kinds of “editing” you’d like them to perform while reading your stuff. And remember, they are doing this for free, and they have a life too. So, don’t be a dick to them if they take a while or don’t give the feedback you were hoping for. No matter what, though, your editor will be much happier you had these issues fixed before they got your work.

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Maybe not this happy.

6. You’re Not James Joyce. Tone Down Your Writing Style

Editors absolutely hate it when they must cut half of the text from your work. New writers have a bad habit of using inflated sentences, stilted language, and an overuse of adjectives and adverbs. They try to make their work as flowery and fanciful as possible. And almost none of that ends up in the finished work.

First off, you should polish your sentences. There’s no need to use unnecessary lead-ins. Just get to the point of the sentence quickly and efficiently. Second, you want to make it so the readers forget they’re reading. Using unnecessary language removes them from the world you want them to be immersed in. And finally, you must not kill the work with adjectives and adverbs. Overusing them will come off as lazy writing and make the story complicated for no reason. Editors hate adverbs, and this is because they usually don’t add necessary description to the story. Cut them out ahead of time.

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5. Get Out of your Comfort Zone

Writers have a bad habit of being repetitive with their vocabulary, (they use the same words and phrases frequently) and they also tend to be repetitive with their sentence structure and its length. These two traits drive editors up a wall.

We all have set words we fall back on and rarely notice until the editing process. For instance, how many times does your protagonist “take a breath” or “breathe heavily”? How often does something in your story “suddenly” happen. It’s only natural for us to have comfort phrases and words.

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But these words and phrases make an editor’s job much more daunting than it needs to be. To fix this problem before your work gets to the editor, try making a list of your most used words and phrases. Then go through your manuscripts and find them all so you can make changes where needed. Some word processors (such as Scrivener) have a function that creates a list of your most frequently used words. Very handy to have.

Also, be sure to change-up the length and structure of sentences to provide a unique reading experience; nobody wants to read a monotonously structured story. And allow your characters to use varied sentence structure as well (depending on their personality, background, and environment in which they find themselves). To appease your editor, find your voice by escaping your comfort zone.

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Finish reading on the next page…

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