Everyone’s got pet peeves on pretty much every subject there is. Driving = road rage. Apartments = noisy neighbors. Writers and editors have their own pet peeves and I asked Katy Sozaeva (editor) and Cindy Young-Turner (writer) – both excellent at their jobs – about theirs. (See, and now I’m questioning whether or not I used the right possessive “theirs” there. *snerk*)
Read below to find out their answers. (And oopsie! Looks like I crossed one of Cindy’s lines! If you’ve read Fluctuations, you’ll know which one. ;o))
A skilled editor, Katy works on novels, short stories, and various other writing material. She’s been doing this for many years now and, having personally experienced her editing, I can attest to her expertise.
As an editor, what’s your biggest pet peeve?
I do line editing, which is basically the detail work where I check for spelling, proper grammar, and sentence structure.
While I’m able to quickly assess a sentence for structural integrity and grammatical correctness, and notice misspelled words, the broader strokes of the story requires a completely different mindset and knowledge base. What I recommend as a format for a writer is for the writer to hammer out the rough draft and edit it, then work with a writer’s group to help soften the edges, do another edit themselves, and the have a content editor go over it and work out those sorts of issues, edit again, then send to a line editor such as me.
After those changes and another edit, I recommend a proofreader just to make sure nothing has been missed; I often provide that as well, but it’s my opinion that the more people look at a manuscript, the more likely that the errors will be seen and fixed.
As an editor, I suppose my biggest pet peeve is when I have a new client and open up the document only to discover that the manuscript really needs a content editor. At the rates I charge, if I did content editing, I’d practically be paying the author for the privilege. (Content editing requires a broader brush stroke, looking at how each paragraph fits within each chapter, and how the plot and storyline is flowing, ensuring that the tense remains consistent (although I do that with my line editing, too), that there are no holes in the plot or threads left dangling… essentially, it requires a very good knowledge of story flow, and a very good memory for the details of the story.)
Anyway, it’s not so much that it needs content editing, but it’s if the author absolutely refuses to take my advice to have it content edited or at the very least go through a writer’s group to improve the writing. Fortunately, that has only happened once, but it’s a huge waste of everyone’s time to send what is essentially a rough draft to a line editor, and then to refuse to take that person’s advice that the work is not ready for that stage of editing. I realize that everyone wants their “baby” to be acknowledged as the wonderful work of art it is, but the job of your editor is to polish that stone up into a shiny diamond, not to stroke your ego, so take their advice.
As a reader for fun, what’s your biggest pet peeve?
As a reader, my biggest pet peeve is to find a really badly edited book. I started noticing this about 15 years ago. Some of the minor publishing houses, like Leisure Books, were particularly bad about releasing books that were rife with misspellings and grammatical inaccuracies, and it absolutely drives me mad! I’m a bit more lenient on independently published books, because a lot of Indie writers aren’t even aware that there are people like me out here who can help them edit their books, and we all know how incredibly difficult it is to edit your own writing! But if I buy a book from a publisher that’s a hot mess, it really annoys me.
The author of Thief of Hope, Journey to Hope, and the upcoming sequel to Thief of Hope, I’ve known Cindy for many, many years (I could tell you how long, but then I’d have to kill you). She’s got a wonderful turn of phrase and vibrant characters that you should absolutely check out.
As a novel/short story writer, what’s your biggest pet peeve? As a reader for fun, what’s your biggest pet peeve?
I had to combine the categories because I’ve found that it’s hard to turn off my writer mind when I’m reading. Even when I’m reading for fun, the writer me is still lurking and noticing things as I go along. Honestly, if it’s a good story but poorly written, I really can’t enjoy it. Even more so if the author falls into any of the categories below.
Biggest pet peeves:
I think I’ve spent too many years as an editor because by far, incorrect grammar is one of my biggest pet peeves. Nobody’s perfect, but the best thing a writer can do is have someone else review his or her work – someone who’s good at picking up all those little mistakes that will make me want to hurl the book across the room. Even authors published by the big ones aren’t immune. And please, please figure out the difference between its/it’s. UGH!
Cliffhanger endings. They drive me nuts and they seem to be all the rage right now. I don’t mind sequels or trilogies or however many books you want in your series, but at least have some sort of ending.
Point of view shifts done wrong. Multiple POVs are fine (heck, I’m reading A Song of Ice and Fire with a zillion POVs), but lapsing into another POV when you’re clearly supposed to be in a particular character’s head throws me out of the story. My critique group refers to me as the Point of View Police, with good reason. And yes, I do get a certain amount of satisfaction from writing “POV shift” in a manuscript I’m critiquing.
SF/fantasy authors who use unpronounceable names for characters and places – and throw in an apostrophe or two while they’re at it. (Sometimes I can get over this one, but it’s an initial turn off.)
Using a foreign word or and phrase without offering a translation or enough context to decipher it. I know I could look it up but usually I’m too lazy and annoyed to do so.