Editor Talk | 3 Mistakes New Authors Make

hey everyone so I wanted to talk about something a little bit different today most of you know that I have a book editor background and some of you seemed kind of interested in that so I thought we'd have a little bit of an editor discussion so I kind of wanted to talk about three common mistakes that I see in fiction generally with new authors these are minor things and honestly I'll probably continue talking about this maybe make a few other videos because I think these really small things can help with the pacing of the novel they can help tighten up the language and ultimately help you connect with readers before we dive into that I did want to address something and that is the misconceptions that people have of book editors a lot of people tend to think of editors as these snobby mean monsters with their red pen going on a mission to crush your dreams and cackling at their computers fixing all these grammatical errors monsters monsters you think we're all monsters but I want to tell you that I could not be further from the truth in fact it might go off on a little bit of a tangent so this might be a two-part video we'll see what happens but really book editors editors who care are not in it to rip up your manuscript yes there may be some uncomfortable things that you know you might have to address as an author but you have to think of your editor as a partner you have to think of your editor as like that friend who will let you know if you have lipstick on your teeth like we are here to help you ultimately we're here to help you connect with readers we're here to watch a better product emerge to help you with your revision I just want that to kind of be like the underlying theme of this video it's important that you know that I don't take lightly the fact that authors hand over their manuscripts to me that is a very durable thing your manuscript is your baby it's precious I get that I don't take that lightly and so I really can't stress that enough you created something you sat down and you wrote a book and that's something to be celebrated so just know that before we go into this and also I want to say that I understand for first-time authors that it can be frustrating to work on something and to know where you want to go with your work you have the idea you have the vision you have the good taste our glass talks about this he talks about it he calls it the gap I'll try to link it down below if I can find it but he basically talks about that gap between knowing what you want to create and just not being there yet because practice makes perfect and you have to work hard with any creative project to get to kind of where you want to be and I know it can be frustrating sometimes you have to create that terrible first draft or that second draft or that third draft that just is bad it's not useless it's your doing the hard work you're revising and revising takes courage it takes courage to write a book to really put yourself out there and entrust your manuscript with someone like me so I respect you and I find it incredibly brave who could do a whole video on that we're gonna keep trucking along here so the first common mistake that I see a lot in fiction kind of the overused words or techniques that I see include masking emotions with strong verbs so many writers are able to show readers what's happening with a character but often when it comes to emotions it's really really easy to tell us what's going on instead of show us you've heard show don't tell I'm sure if you're a writer you've heard it but this is a really overused technique that kind of creates the illusion of a powerful scene or a powerful emotion but when you take a closer look you realize that it doesn't really tell the reader anything examples fear slammed into her sadness strangled him anger shot through her doubt and fear rose in her chest these are not bad sentences what may be clear but they are masking emotion at first they seem like really solid strong sentences but they're actually more abstract rather than writing these ambiguous sentences ask yourself if you can show how a character is confused or scared during ask yourself if it shows how a character really is if it doesn't convey the physical and mental associations with that emotion then it's a telling sentence I want to take a second here to recommend a resource called the emotion thesaurus the writers guide to character expression I'll link it down below it is the best resource if you struggle with conveying body language or just really showing what's going on with the character rather than telling number two using unnecessary words such as started to or began to or begin to or start to this seems like so minor it's almost not even worth mentioning but I promise you that if you keep a look out for these words you will tighten up your language you will improve the overall pacing of your novel being an eye out for unnecessary words is the best thing you can do now what do I mean by empty words when someone starts to do something they're already doing it when she starts to walk down the driveway she is walking if he begins to cook dinner he is cooking dinner I think a lot of writers tend to use empty words to build tension or suspense but really it's not helping with the pacing as with all writing guidelines don't go eliminating every time you see this word but just ask yourself can I remove this if it's not adding value it's gone the third one is kind of a few issues combined and that is over explaining or insulting the readers inteligence now this isn't something that I experienced just as an editor I'm sure you as a reader have seen this in novels I like to call it in photo being you know when a story in the first you know few pages of a chapter when they just kind of like dump all this information on you and it's something that could have easily unfolded naturally in the story through dialogue or descriptions I'm not saying that readers need to be confused on what's going on in the first chapter or whatever but play around with how you reveal certain information can you reveal it naturally through dialogue that's the info dumping part the over-explaining or insulting or readers intelligence has to do more with kind of using unnecessary words again there's nothing worse for readers experience when the author is watering down what's going on here's an example of what I mean I don't understand why you did that to me said Molly with a confused look on her face so is that dialogue tagged necessary not really if it's clear by the dialogue that Molly doesn't understand something it's probably safe to say that you don't have to tell the reader that she has a confused look on her face if it's not necessary slows down the story those are my three teeny tiny bits of advice just common overused words and techniques that I see in fiction generally with first-time authors again these are things that we all do these are things that I'm sure I would do if I wrote a book and I think practice makes maybe not perfect but you'll get there you you will improve and hone your craft so anyway I would love to know as readers or maybe your editors and writers out there what are some pet peeves of yours or what are some common mistakes that you find in your everyday reading experience so I would probably be making more editor talk videos like this if you guys enjoy it you'd like to get into that leave a comment I love to nerd out about this kind of stuff and yeah I will talk to you soon bye

27 thoughts on “Editor Talk | 3 Mistakes New Authors Make

  1. I find this videos so helpful! Every time I learn something new about what weakens the manuscript, I tend to go over it searching for these common mistakes. I would love to see more tips on how to strengthen the writing.

  2. I just wanted to say that I love your approach for this. Everyone's just yelling 'mistake this' and 'mistake that' and you seem to genuinely care about this and be much more gentle and thoughtful. Thanks for that.

  3. Things true about myself: I hardly describle anything at all. I try to work on it now, but… Is it good? I think it is… but maybe someone won't agree with me.

  4. I'm having trouble with my summary. I've got it down to 600 words, which is too long, but rather like John Coltrane "It took that long to fit it all in" . I kind of feel like only somebody else could write the summary, but there isn't anybody else, so I've started sending it out like it is. If I don't get an agent by Christmas I'm going to self-publish, as I don't think it'll appeal to an agent anyway; this means I'll have to do a lot of the editing myself, although I've got somebody doing proofreading. Any ideas for tightening up the summary?

  5. For number 2, I would propose that it is okay to use these types of filler words if they are used to convey a decision making process or a transition from scene to scene, particularly if this action is about to be interrupted. Words like "started" or "began" aren't necessary if the actions will be completed.

    For example, if a couple gets into a fight, there's a pause, and then one of them "begins to make dinner" or if a person is getting ready to leave somewhere, and they decide to "start gathering their things".

  6. Thank you for this! Ngl I clicked expecting to hear some of the same tips other videos have touched on countless times, but the first point was such a specific way of looking at "show don't tell" I'd never heard it like that before. The others were explained super well too. This is definitely going to help me.

  7. Major suggestion: Read Stephen King’s “On Writing”…you’ll get all of this and much more. This is good advice she’s giving. King really cuts to the chase and makes it so clear just by the talent he has with words.

  8. My pet peeve as a reader is when the author over-describes something or someone, especially using flowery or poetic language. I don't care that the boy's eyes are as blue as the sea on a cloudless sunny day. I don't need to know every single thing in a way-too-detailed room description. Unless that antique, gold rimmed, hand-painted vase is essential to the plot, I don't care that it's there. By the way, loved this video, and I subscribed. I'm ready to see more.

  9. Thank you for this. Sincerely.
    I just finished a 320,000-word comedy/fantasy about pot smoking gnomes and monsters. 100% of my readers say it is hilarious and really fun to read. I cannot get a publisher to even LOOK at it. I am on book 4 now and have started books 5-9.

    I have been disabled for years unable to work a steady job, and am trying to put together something to leave my son when I pass. Maybe take a look and see if you feel you might like to donate to the publishing fund. I really have no other income to look forward to at this stage.

    The story is about friendship, tolerance, honor acceptance and loyalty with a healthy dose of; self-realization.



    The story is solid, and the characters are really likable. Lots of satire, and loads of modern references.

    I just subscribed.

  10. Thanks for this video. I love the idea of the cackling editor at their computer…..could make a good story! Please keep these going. Im a NaNo writer with two books now to edit and i WILL publish them, just need more editing tips so I can get that red pen out first. Do you have a website???

  11. I'm thinking of becoming a writer so I can get an editor as cute as this one. I'd probably make lots of mistakes on purpose so we could interact more.
    Me: "So you're saying I should start sentences with capital letters and end sentences with punctuation? Okay, I'll try that."
    Her: "Don't take this too personally, but in the future I would prefer that you avoid turning in manuscripts written in crayon on napkins."
    Me: "What about yellow highlighter pen on cardboard? No? I would be so lost without your advice. You smell nice."

  12. My number one pet peeve? I realize writers have opinions and sometimes they try to convey them in their writings, but I don't like it when they create contrived situations to prove their point. The two that spring to mind were religious in nature. In one fantasy book, apparently set either in our past or an alternate version of our present, it was "proved" that the Bible was false because elves are immortal and they didn't see any of that Bible stuff happen. This had nothing to do with the plot of the novel and was quite gratuitous. Now I am mature enough to tolerate characters with different religious beliefs from mine, but when a writer goes that far out of his/her way to pull a stunt like that it completely breaks my immersion in the story. I encountered an almost identical plot in another story, but instead of elves it was aliens. They'd been monitoring the human race for millenia and none of that Bible stuff happened according to the aliens.

    In a similar vein I don't like it when again, in order to endorse their own particular ideology, an author does what I call "stacking the deck". I won't name names, but a certain author I encountered was wont to do the following. This author would create a world in which the people sharing the author's ideology were almost flawless. Those who did not share the author's ideology were mean, nasty, stupid, ugly caricatures by comparison to the intellectual, beautiful, sweet-natured people sharing the author's ideology. In a Romeo/Juliet sort of way, one person from the "bad group", a good-looking, intelligent, idealistic, but sadly misguided individual would develop a love interest with the main character. Before the end of the novel the love interest would have completely converted over to the protagonist's way of life, repudiating his/her former values. I read about three books by the same author with basically that same plot before I promised myself to never, ever, ever read another book by that author again.

    A writing style mistake I truly abhor is dialog where you have to go back and re-read it over and over to figure out who said what. I realize using "said" over and over again can be a bit repetitive, but when a writer abandons that, they should still insert clues.

    A similar style mistake I hate is when the character through whose eyes we see the story changes without warning, explanation, or clues. I'm okay with changing characters. But please drop a hint somewhere that lets me know it's happening! I hate figuring out a page or two after the fact that I've been reading about a different character and didn't even know it.

    My last pet peeve is YouTube commenters who make ridiculously long posts. Hahaha! Just kidding!

  13. This was very educational and made me as a writer more aware of things I hadn't thought of before, thank you!

    My pet peeve as a reader is when words get repeated waaay too much when they really didn't need to

  14. I loved every bit of this. Thank you for taking the time to make this, and to explain it all so simply. I tend to feel like I have a handle on these things as a published author, but the reminders are always worth-while. And I, too, looooooove to nerd out on these sorts of topics!

  15. About editors: Of course in every group of people there will be good ones, but when someone has any kind of authority in their hands, the human thing to do is to abuse it.
    I think the best approach is to see the editor as space, and your manuscript as a rocket.

  16. I have always found YA and Middle-Grade really frustrating to read as the majority of them use really simple language and plots, which I think can come across as slightly insulting and definitely alters the reading experience.

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