An ocean of leaves is lapping at my door and the cupboards are growing suspiciously bare of cheese, but I got the manuscript back from my editor yesterday, so I've other games to play.

Here, for anyone interested in editing their own writing, are some of the things I've found I have to work on. Who knows, they might apply to you too.

  1. Commas. Hey, this is a big improvement for me. I used to be told I used way too many semi-colons, but now we're down to something much less iniquitous. I try to be grammatically correct in using commas but readers, it seems, will view them as intrusive in print, so instead I must use them only when necessary.
  2. Overly profuse similes and metaphors. They may be vivid and valuable, but I might want to save a few for later books.
  3. Comic relief. The story's kind of heavy and a little light music might play well. Since there are three kids and a cat amongst the main characters, plus two dogs and other assorted children, that shouldn't be hard.
  4. Be true to other people's memories. I have a scene set outside a university dorm, but the memories I use are mine and might not apply to the time and location. Which leads to...
  5. Time and place. I left my story somewhat timeless and placeless, but the world and its readers aren't. I need some suitably neutral comments to give detail for those needing it while not intruding on the story for those who don't care.
  6. Time-line. I know two years passed during some events, but my readers might not and I need to make it clear. (Ah, memories; in my first novel--written in elementary school--I had six weeks pass between two people meeting and having their first child!)
  7. Don't name all the minor characters. I think this might be my Englishness showing. It feels impolite to say the ladies served coffee and the tall one objected to this while the short one kept talking about that. It feels unreal to have too few people speak in a committee meeting too. But I'll work on it.
So that's it. My next two weeks (plus shopping, plus yard work, plus etc...). I'll let you know how it goes.

Meanwhile I'm sending a HUGE THANK YOU ! to my editor. If anyone knows how to critique while building up and encouraging, it is surely she!


Great editing tips, Sheila. I love my commas!

It is so good to hear that your editor knows how to give you constructive criticism.
All wonderful and appropriate editing tips, Sheila!

And these things will become "second nature" - soon you won't even realize you "know these things" --


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