Here is another in my infrequent series (here’s the first one if you want to see it) of how you can help yourself when it comes to not annoying your editor. These tips are not any magic wand, but if you do follow this advice you are much more likely to form a good connection with your editor.
Read your own work. Now I’m the first to admit that this has problems because you will end up reading what you think is there rather than what actually is there, but this is hugely important. Especially when it comes to dialogue. If you want to know does your dialogue flow – read it aloud, say it yourself. If you can’t stand the sound of your own voice, then either get someone else to read it to you or get a PDF reader that can. I use Adobe (the free download – I can’t afford the full version), it has a built in reader. It’s monotonous tone to listen to, and you have to figure out the tricks to get it to work properly (no curly apostrophes or speech marks) but it sure makes your own mistakes jump out at you.
Run a spellcheck. I received a manuscript with five spelling mistakes in four lines a few weeks ago. It wasn’t a great piece of writing to begin with, but when I get words like dam spelt damn, I realise that the author hasn’t just failed to check their own work, they’ve failed to show any respect for the reader – or the editor and don’t forget in this case they were paying for my services. But here is the thing that spell check won’t always tell you – you might spell the word right, but it could be the wrong word, homophones are a nightmare for this. Also, for example, I often see a lot of confusion over there and their or where and were. These are irritating typos, everyone does them as they type, but they can be found. If the grammar check on the word processing package you use isn’t up to much, try Grammarly. I find that this particular grammar-nazi can be a bit of a pain when it comes to colloquialisms and modern usage, but it picks up the little things that the author’s eye will miss.
Consistency – Names
In the last part of this, I rattled on about formatting consistency. If you follow this blog you’ll also have seen me talking about names. One of the things I mention there is to not be afraid of changing names. In my latest WIP, I had to change the names of five different characters – one character got changed twice. The reason for that was that all the names were starting with either the same letter or containing the same sounds. So you see I do understand why an author would change a character’s name which is one possibility for why sometimes as an editor I get an odd name jumping out and sitting there wondering who on earth this character is only to realised that it’s a Rose by some other name that didn’t smell so sweet. The worst I ever had was one scene containing one boy and one girl and seven names. Ugh!
As I say, no magic wand, but avoid what pitfalls you can then the editor can concentrate on the import parts of helping make the work better.