Category Archives: Edting

What?! Come on Now… Really????

“He took out the 12 gauge shotgun and loaded sixteen 9 mm rounds into it. He raised the gun and leveled it off, ready to pull the trigger…”

What?! Did you say shotgun? 9 mm? Really? I’m not a fan of guns and even I know that’s wrong… I actually read that recently in a book….a published book…and not a self-published book but an actual traditionally published book. Needless to say I ended up tossing that one into my pile of crap-that-should-have-never-been-printed in-the-first-place books. I was irritated with the author (who shall remain nameless) for not having understood his/her subject but I was also irritated with the publisher for having let this get through.

I don’t know about you guys but I am seeing more and more of this is the publishing world. I thought that maybe I was coming across it more because I am reading more these days however; I am beginning to believe that this is not the case. I have another, more disturbing, theory…I think that publishers are getting lazy. Yep, I think that because of all the changes within the publishing world, people self-publishing and all, that editors and publishers are going through a period of not really caring. I have a friend who is a professional editor and she tells me that she too is seeing a laziness that wasn’t always there in terms of editors and publishers. She thinks that it is because many of them see the changes and are thinking that there will not be a place for them pretty soon so they are mentally giving up. It’s a shame really…because they are wrong.

While self-publishing is now an actual “thing”, there will always be a place for traditional publishing. Let’s face it, there are some readers out there who still don’t trust a “self-published” book and so they are still looking to Penguin, Simon and Shuster and all those other big name publishers to entertain them. There will also always be a market for editors because, hey, let’s face it, most of us write, we don’t edit. In the meantime, while the publishing world is trying to find its footing, it is now more important than ever to edit your own work as best you can. Just like you can’t send your kid off to school with no pants, you also can’t send your work out there without the best polish you can muster.

The author (and I use that term loosely) whom I quoted at the beginning of this piece didn’t edit and didn’t do his/her research. I won’t bore you with all of the other mistakes I discovered while trying to stomach a bit more of this particular book but I will say that this person was a fine example for the need to self-edit even though a “big name” publisher is publishing your work. Let’s face it; there is an uncharted landscape out there that is making folks in the publishing world nervous and because of that, they may not be paying the close attention to the work they put out there as much as they used to. Since they aren’t paying attention, it is more important than ever that YOU pay attention.

So no matter how you are getting published, remember, once that book is out there with a crap-load of mistakes it’s very hard to pull back. You might be able to correct things on a second run but that first batch will always be out there and trust me…the day you publish your big successful book…someone, somewhere…will pull out that non-factual, bad spelling riddled first book and use it to smack you, the now successful writer, in the head. I know…it happened to me.


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited


Posted by on January 4, 2023 in Edting, Writing


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The Best Advice Ever!

The following two items are among the best advice I have ever gotten. I am put them into graphics so that you can print them out and post them near your computer. I always take the best advice I have gotten from others over the years and posted it…it helps me remember that , (a) I am never alone and (b) that I should always learn…

A word on rejections












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Born to Be Uninhabited….The Importance of Choosing the Right Word

cartoonBorn to be uninhabited….not quite the same as born to be wild now is it? The writer of that now iconic phrase chose the right word in order to say what he wanted to say. As a writer, we have to pay attention to the words we choose because the wrong word just might leave your story “uninhabitable”.

When I first started out as a writer I had no idea how important it was to have the “right” words. Many writers never learn the importance of their verbiage. They just tootle along, writing whatever comes to mind and never really listen to the actual sound of their story. My spouse has this thing they often can be heard saying to our kids…”listen, to the words coming out of my mouth” is bellowed a lot in our house when one of them is in a bit of trouble. The reason this is said is because one of them isn’t actually paying attention to what is being said and therefore getting themselves into even more trouble. We, as writers, should take this advice too; only rephrase it to, “listen to the words coming out of my head”.

I have recently begun using a text reader to read back to me what I have recently been working on. I love the text reader because it allows me to “hear” how my writing actually sounds. There has been a lot of time when, while I am listening, I hear something that needs that different word. I do suggest that you give a text reader a try.

So before you send that manuscript out pay some special attention to your verbiage because sometimes the wrong word in the wrong place at the wrong time can sink your story; but the right word can give birth to an iconic story that years later folks are still quoting.


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited


Posted by on December 23, 2022 in Edting, Writing


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The Death of a Novel - Editing Yourself into Never Being Published

I have this book. It’s in the trunk and I take it out about once a year. It’s a good book. The story is intriguing, it’s fairly well written, (if I do say so myself) and the ending is kind of cool. I wrote the book over 8 years ago and the sad thing is it will probably never see the light of day…. Why? Because I can’t stop editing it.

Seriously…for some reason, every time I dig that book out and re-read some of it I find myself editing again. It’s not that it is a bad story…it’s that editing the book has become a compulsion. I have convinced my inner muse that this particular book is never quite right. There is always something…a character, a plot line, a verb…out of place and I have to compulsively fix it. With that book my editing has become a kind of illness…we’ll call it CBE – Compulsive Book Editing and folks this illness can get ugly.

The symptoms are easy to spot but not so easy to fix once they are past a certain point. This is why it is so important to write the words, “The End” at some point and mean them. There will always, ALWAYS, be something you would have changed within a story. I have some that are published that I look back on now and think, “crap, why didn’t I do that differently”…we all do, but the truth of the matter is, if you think that way while in the get-the-damn-book-out-the-door phase that thing will find a permanent home in the trunk.

I’d like to say that one day, my trunk book will find its way into the light, but I think that, at this point, I have edited it so much that it is a shadow of its former story self and I couldn’t throw it out of the nest now and feel very good about it. The time for that story to end was a long time ago and now it is the old crazy aunt who lives in the spare bedroom.

If you have a story that you have edited more than you know you should…stop it! Get that story out there before there is no turning back and you have a crazy aunt too that will forever remind you that, although she was once the cool aunt…now she is that creepy old lady who peers through the crack of the trunk reminding you that, on this project, instead of lovingly sending it out into the world…you killed it with editing; you are a book murderer. It’s a ghost that will haunt you forever… end it…in the good way.


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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Posted by on December 19, 2022 in Edting, Writing


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Hey, Shouldn’t You at Least Sound like a Writer?

So I was driving my son to work this morning…the 19 year old…and he turns to me at one point and says, “you’re a writer…shouldn’t you speak with better grammar”?  After I successfully fought off the urge to toss him from the moving vehicle…I told him. “nope, because I don’t write like I speak”. I had apparently said something to my daughter who was in the back seat irritated because she had to get a ride to school from me instead of riding the bus where she could gossip with her pre-teen friends, and whatever I said, he deemed it grammatically incorrect. He then went on to explain to me that bad grammar coming from a writer seems retarded. I have to admit…I wanted to pull over and make him walk the last 6 miles to Best Buy. Sadly, he didn’t even realize that he was being kind of a butt munch, as far as he was concerned…I need to know so he was doing me a favor. (ahhhh…youth…)

Folks, there is nothing more irritating than getting grammar advice from a kid who barely passed English because he felt that homework was in direct conflict with his right to play video games. However, it did make me think about how I speak and if I should be more mindful of it. Sadly, I have to admit, I decided that he was right and I do need to pay attention to the way I speak in terms of grammar BECAUSE I am a writer.

How so, you may be asking? Well, I don’t actually write like I speak, and thank Pete for that because I can go southerner on a person real quick if I am mad or tired, but as a writer I do have a responsibility to those around me to leave a good impression. (yes the urge to use the line, with great power comes great responsibility is strong here but I will resist) My kids look at me as a writer and so there is a certain expectation that I would be at least a little brighter than most when it comes to the world of verbiage. I need to realize that this is the case with not only my kids but anyone who knows I am a writer.

With this in mind I have decided to pay closer attention to the way I speak and not be so lazy. That’s not to say that I am going to go around now trying to sound like James Earl Jones or Anthony Hopkins or, Lord forbid, Morgan Freeman…but I should at least sound like a writer which requires me to at least fake some intelligence. At most it will make me at least seem like I should have the right to write…at least it will keep me from throwing my son from the van on the interstate….either way it’s a win-win…


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.



Posted by on December 5, 2022 in Edting, Writing


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Grammar – There’s a Mistake for That…OR It’s a Moo Point…..

I have a friend who likes to point out my grammar mistakes. She will take a look at the galley copy of a manuscript and point out each and every grammar mistake she sees…even the ones that the typesetter makes, (And that happens by the way, which is why it is so important to actually read those galley copies) and then hound me about making the mistake “ever again”. My friend is not a writer and she spells grammar – grammer….which in and of itself is annoying. Here’s the thing though I do actually pay attention to what she says. (shhhhh…don’t tell her that though….)

Grammar mistakes can make a writer look stupid especially if they are simple mistakes. Let me add though…it happens to everyone, just like spelling mistakes. Science has proven that most people’s brains see the first and last letters of a word and their mind automatically fills in the middle. This is why those Facebook posts where they say you are a genius if you can read a note that is written with the letters jumbled…don’t feel special…most of us can do it too. Grammar mistakes are different than spelling mistakes though because there is no out for that one. If you constantly make grammar mistakes, you just aren’t paying attention.

Here are a few of the popular grammar mistakes we all make….(yes I said “we all”)

Who and Whom  - Who hasn’t had this argument around the dinner table.  “Who” is a subjective — or nominative — pronoun but for some folks this word is interchangeable with “whom”. “Whom” is an objective pronoun and is used when the pronoun acts as the object. Which one you use depends entirely on the sentence.  Which brings me to….

Which and That -This is a common one. “That” is a restrictive pronoun and “Which” introduces a relative clause. Writers often screw these up but if you are editing like a good little verbiage monster, you will catch it on the go-round.

Lay and Lie  - I screw this one frequently. “Lay” is a transitive verb and requires a direct subject while “Lie” is an intransitive verb. (no object needed)  The most common way writers goof this one up is when he/she uses the past tense of the transitive “lay” but meant to use the intransitive past tense of “lie”.

Moot  - So very many people misuse this word. I don’t use it anymore since a “Friends” episode where Joey says that something is a “moo” point…it’s like a cow’s opinion…it doesn’t matter…I love that and began using that instead of moot from then on.

These are just a few of the common grammar mistakes that writers make; there are tons of others. The best advice I can give you on these is to make sure that you edit. Personally, my brain makes these mistakes often because I am writing not editing…and my brain…well….it trips on itself all the time. So makes sure that you do your editing in order to catch these and other grammar mistakes. If you don’t some well-meaning friend will piss you off by pointing them out when the book is released and by then it will be a moo point…like a cow’s opinion…it won’t matter.


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on December 4, 2022 in Edting, grammar


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Don’t Count Your Words Constantly, Instead Make Your Words Count

We are word counters, us writers. At some point our work lives or dies by the number of words we have invested into a story. Publishers and editors have their reasons for needing to hit that special magic number. Sometimes the word count matters because of space allotted, sometimes it is all about the length (because in books sometimes size matters….lol) and still, other times, the word count is important because that’s the way we get paid. No matter what the reason, if you are a writer, you have one eye on the word count all the way through your work most times.

Here’s the thing though…we have to be careful when watching that little word ticker. If we aren’t, our stories could fall victim to something akin to the verbal flu…just as too many antibodies can make you sick, so can too many words or too few words…or keeping count in the first place. Okay, hold on now, before you tilt your head, and in your best Scooby Doo voice, ask, “huh”…let me explain.

While we should watch our word counts we need to make sure that we, as writers, don’t become obsessed with it. It is an easy thing to find yourself mired in. You are writing along and with one eye on the word count, suddenly you become concerned that you are short verbiage so you start adding stuff in, only it’s crap, because it doesn’t fit, because now you’re writing isn’t about the story but about making sure that you have enough words to make the count. OR you notice that you have too many words and so now your story is getting choppy because you are cutting it in places you shouldn’t, again trying to make that word count. Either way, because you have an eye on that word count, your story is in real trouble.

So how then do we ensure that the word count monster doesn’t take over the planet of your story? It’s simple…stop watching it. Granted when you are finished with your story you do have to revisit the word count so that you can at least hit the target but, at least if you wait until then, you have a finished story to work with and you are not filling or cutting in a haphazard way. Work on making your words count while writing instead of counting them as you are writing; if you do, your story will be all the better for it.



© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on September 2, 2022 in Edting, grammar, Writing


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Will Work As (I mean, For) Food….

I am not a grammar Nazi. Let me repeat that…I am NOT, in no way, absolutely, without a doubt, not a grammar Nazi. Do you know why? Because I screw up too… There is nothing worse, in my book, than a person who goes around picking out other people’s mistakes just for the sake of pointing them out. Point out something that I have done wrong and you’d better be forthcoming with how I might fix it because otherwise, you are just being plain mean.

We writers deal with other people’s opinions all the time. For some reason, our work is a breeding ground for grammar Nazis, punctuation terrorists and editorial gunslingers. All of these people are looking for a fight at the “Ok-I’m-a-Writer” Corral…it’s just not fair. I make stupid mistakes all the time. I have told stories about messing up headlines. (i.e. “Have a Porkin Good Time”…no John, I still haven’t dug out the copy to show you so that you may laugh longer) And I have admitted to being CDA (Comma Dysfunctional and Aggravating) but just because I suffer from some of these writer’s ailments should it leave me open to those who want to pounce just because? I say…No.

I do understand that some people can’t help it, like retired school teachers but even those little old ladies will send you their take on how to fix what they are pointing out. My point is this…correct if you must, edit if you are driven, opin away but at least come back at me with some advice on how to fix the problem. It takes some of the hurt out of the pointing out if you at least pretend that you are trying to help. (And not just being a grammar bully)

I think that it takes a very brave soul to put themselves out there as a writer. You are literally slitting your veins and bleeding out your personal self all over the words that you publish. You should be commended for even having stepped in front of that truck because sometimes, it runs your behind over. So don’t let the grammar Nazi’s of the world get you down. For Pete’s Sake pay attention as best you can to what you put out there but if you make a mistake, correct it and move on. Unless of course you are a newspaper editor and you write the headline, “Mayor has dyed” thinking that it is kind of funny when you meant his hair…but most people picked up the phone and called City Hall thinking the Mayor had actually gone to the great beyond. Including mind you, his wife….oops. (True story…wow did I get in trouble for that….)

© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


Posted by on September 1, 2022 in Edting, grammar


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Editing Gone Wild…No Sir, I Won’t Change that…….

Editors can be your best friend or the guy that you want to beat to death with your kids LEGOLAND sky scraper or Transformer Bumble Bee, which ever happens to be closest. It all really depends on a few things, how well the editor “gets” you, how good an editor they are and how adapt you are at saying “no thank you”. With these traits in tow, an editor can be the Chainsaw Massacre guy and he’d still be a good editor. (Horrible party guest but good editor)

I have a writer friend who has an editor she hates. Clyde (let’s call him Clyde) has been her editor for over 20 years. Yep, you heard me correctly; she has hated Clyde for over 20 years…. Now you may be asking, why they crap would she still have Clyde as an editor if she has hated him all this time? I know, I ask this every time my friend goes on yet another rant about just how bad Clyde is. She says he cuts the good parts, he doesn’t listen to her, he tries to rewrite her work, he is a pompous ass most of the time…AND he likes Cosmos. (How dare he) I could go on, but you get the picture. My friend really “hates” Clyde…yet…here they still are, 20 years later…why?

The truth is, Clyde has the important three things I mentioned in the first paragraph…Clyde gets her. He understands that my writer friend is an impossible drama queen who happens to be a good writer. She needs an editor who will take her wrath and turn the other cheek, Clyde does. She also needs an editor who is good and Clyde is a good editor. He knows where a piece needs to be reworked and he can get my friend to change it. (That takes talent all in and of itself) Finally, and perhaps more importantly, Clyde gets the word no when my friend says it and means it. There are a lot of editors out there who don’t get the word no. It’s like being in a relationship with a stubborn child, you say no and they stick their tongue out and cut it anyways. There is nothing worse than getting your galley copies back to find changes that you did not approve. When Clyde hears “no, absolutely not”, he gets it and leaves well enough alone. Clyde is a good editor.

In the writing landscape, editors are the cops on Segway’s following you around making sure that you don’t get yourself into so much trouble that you end up in the prison that is the slush pile. They are there to help you but they have to be good editors who follow the guidelines. There are a lot of editors out there who don’t follow these rules and they will end up leading your work astray. Know that, editors don’t always know best. Sometimes the writer knows best but then, that relationship should be a partnership in the first place. Your editor should be working with you, not trying to “fix” you. So before you go following the advice of an editor, make sure that they too know what they are doing, “get you” and understand the word no. If not…go looking for another editor…your writing soul mate is out there somewhere, trust me.



© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on August 29, 2022 in Edting


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Cut it Out! The Meaningless Parts that is….

As many of you already know, I hate the editing process. Editing is not what I got into writing for. I got into it for the writing part of it…editing is a bi-product that I wish I could avoid. But, alas, every writer has to endure the editing…we simply have no choice.

So how does a writer find the silver lining in the editing process? The answer is that we have to find something useful about the editing process that makes it, in our minds, worthwhile. For some it is the chance to check your spelling. (Okay, so this might be important) For others it might be the chance to fill out your characters. (Okay maybe fleshing those guys out may have some merit)For me, it’s the chance to “cut it out”….to cut out all the boring, pointless areas of my story that flooded out during the writing process but have no place in the actual story.

Writers are emotional people and because of that, when we write, we tend to ramble at times. It’s like talking to your Aunt Imogene…she talks but often times you have to weed through what she is saying to find the useful part of the conversation. Somewhere, in between the comments on how bad her bowels are and what kind of flowers she wants Uncle Hank to plant in the garden, there are little tidbits of information that help you see Aunt Imogene clearer. You have to endure those other comments because you don’t want to be rude and, well, Aunt Imogene is old and family AND your elder. (In my family, that last part regarding respecting your elder is important and can get you smacked across the back of the head even at 48 years old if you don’t do it) As a writer however, rambling will get you only one thing…the reader will put your book down.

The editing process is a good place to weed out all those parts where you rambled. You can take out the part where your main character has decided that he doesn’t enjoy chocolate Twinkies more than the regular ones. In fact he thinks they are kinda gross. (true story, when I was trying out the new choco Twinkies I really did put this into a story. Thank Pete for the editing process because THAT was lame) We often tend to flow parts of our own lives into a story, especially when we are angry or frustrated and half the time we hardly realize that we have done it. The editing process give us a chance to see what we have done, kind of like stepping back and looking at a room you’ve just painted and realizing that there are some places you may need to paint over a second time.

So before you decide that the editing process really doesn’t need that much attention, take a second gander…it’s more important than you realize. I know, it’s not “writing”, but it is a part of the writing process that is important…especially when you want to make sure that your story doesn’t include Twinkie comparisons.



© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


Posted by on August 27, 2022 in Edting


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