Swimming in a Turquoise Sea of Jumbled Lyrics
Why Don’t You Just Hire an Editor?
“The sky was the color of a bruised palette…”
I was reading an intense, frightening chase scene when the above sentence appeared. It stopped me dead in my tracks and has stuck in my mind for a long, long time. I assume the writer meant the sky was filled with blue and gray clouds, but he could have meant someone’s mouth was bruised from getting punched in the face. Obviously, I don’t know the difference in spelling between the roof of your mouth and the board used to mix paints. Either way, it took me out of the story. I began thinking about painter’s palettes and how they can’t get bruised, because they’re made of wood.
I’m not only going to pick on that writer. I’ve done it myself. While running from a murderer through the foggy forest, my character “looked up into the black arms of the haunted trees.”
Fortunately, I have a fabulous editor who crossed it out in bold, bright red. I thought it was pretty clever, but I could almost hear her yelling “WTF?” all the way from her office in California.
An editor will kick your artistic butt, but they will make you look good. They will correct your grammar, your punctuation, your point of view, tighten up your wonky dialog (as above), and if you give them enough latitude, they will do heavy copy editing and replace your poor choice of words, repair your jumbled scenes, and restructure your paragraphs. They will also check your facts and your timeline. In one book, I mentioned Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in a story that took place two years before he was knighted. My editor caught it and deleted the ‘Sir’ from his name. Deep in my heart, I know she’s worth far more than I pay her.
There’s only one bad thing about a good editor. When you get your manuscript back with more corrections than your ninth-grade English term paper, you will feel like you should never write again. But you have to shake that off. Editors do what they are paid to do, and it has nothing to do with your talent or your feelings.
Stephen King has an editor. You should too.
(The above photos are from thewallpapers.org and flickriver.com.)