Archive for the 'Editors Desk' Category

Monday, June 8th, 2009
Guest Blogging Today on The Sweet Flag

Take a look to see my thoughts on the biggest “do Nots” for writing science fiction and fantasy from an editor’s point of view!

You can read my post here!

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009
Freelance Fiction Editing Services

Just to put this out there – while I’m looking for a new job, I’m currently taking on freelance fiction editing jobs. I’m an experienced fiction editor for two e-publishing houses and can edit pretty much any type of fiction.

If you’re interested in hiring my services, drop me a message via my contact for or to maura at realmsoftheraven dot com.

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
Character-Driven vs Plot-Driven Stories

Writerly Wednesday

A great source of confusion among many writers is the difference between a character-driven story and a plot-driven story. At first glance it may seem that stories where the characters are the central focus would be the character-driven story but that’s not necessarily the case.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008
Writerly Wednesday – Writing In Shared Worlds

Writerly Wednesday

Shared World series are quite popular and can be really fun to read. But they can be really tricky (and frustrating) to write in.

A shared world usually starts with a concept or core idea that is built to be the background for the stories in the series. This can be a place, a person, or an event, depending on the idea and vision for the series.

Some shared world series may be limited to a certain number of stories or open ended as well.

Some shared worlds start with the story of the core idea or concept as the first story in the series. These have the benefit of having the story really laid out so authors that follow on with other stories can follow pretty closely and avoid potential collisions or breaks in the world. But for that, it sacrifices the anticipation that can be created by withholding the final resolution or revelation until interest in the series drops off.

Some publishers or authors decide to save the story that is the basis of the shared world until the very end. That actually can make it more difficult for the authors because you have a world that is more in flux. You may want to use or address an aspect that the person in charge of the series has not considered. Can you do it? Is it the right thing to do? Is your addition going to blow things for authors already partially written?

Difficult questions indeed.

Most shared worlds or series have a bible to offer to authors who might want to write in that world. Be sure you get a copy of that bible and be sure you ask for updates if you take a while between original receipt and finishing your story.

How detailed that bible is can vary greatly. I’ve seen some that are a single page of vague information. I’ve seen some that are 20 page tomes. In general, the more detailed, the more you are able to get answers for. But the more detailed, the less freedom the individual authors have to improvise.

Try to read other stories in that world and see how other authors have treated the shared elements. It will also show you how closely in line they are.

Personally, I like to have the rules laid out and not have unfortunate surprises emerge. Those can be a change in the basic workings of the world or characters, imposition of a mythos not previously present or someone being allowed to write as a shared character when the other authors were told not to. All of these can cause huge chaos in the other world stories and can even cause readers to be upset if the different authors are using different versions of that shared world.

I hate to have these mistakes, myself. Inconsistency makes me nuts and though I’ve written in shared worlds, I find myself less likely to do so after some of these have hit me. I’m very Type A.

But, you know, these things DO happen if you are writing in a shared world that YOU do not control. A lot of the time they are not conscious, they are spur of the moment decisions or ones made without thought to the consequences because they seemed fun at first glance. But they disrupt everyone.

There is also the issue that shared worlds and their characters generally belong to the publishing house that publishes them. If you leave that house or they stop the series, you may not be able to resell that work to another house. It’s something to keep in mind.

Shared worlds do come with some great benefits – a shared fan base, other authors to work with, combined promo opportunities, interesting characters and concepts to play with, etc. And they are FUN to write.

Only individual authors can decide if the potential benefits and drawbacks of wrting in a shared world are worth it. Don’t shrug them off without a second thought, but always approach with caution and a bit of “forewarned is forearmed.”

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008
Writerly Wednesday – Presentation IS Important

Writerly Wednesday

I keep hearing a statement from mostly aspiring authors that absolutely makes me shudder. There seems to be a belief that spelling and grammar issues are solely the job of editors and don’t need to be worried about by the authors.

It’s true that, when the rubber hits the road, we editors are responsible for correcting spelling and grammar issues. But failure to make your work the cleanest and best it can be possible before you submit it may mean you never reach that point. The editor (or agent) may never even request a full because their appreciation of your story may not be enough to balance the costs and resources neede to get it through the publication process.

The first thing aspiring authors have to understand is that your submission – be it synopsis, partial or full – is your interview for a contract. It’s what you will be judged on. Why would you choose to make less than the best impression you possibly could? Would you show up to interview for a modeling shot with grimy hair and say that’s the hairdresser’s job? Shooting yourself in the foot is not a great start to any venture.

Now, keep in mind that almost every submission contains some errors, that’s normal and expected. But a plethora of easy to find and fix ones tells me (accurately or not) that the author doesn’t care enough to do the very best job possible. That it’s not important to the author. Are they lazy? Are they going to be difficult to work with?

Another thing it tells me is that if I contract this work, it will cost my house more money to get it in shape for publishing than it would an equivalent story that is cleaned up and corrected. The longer I have to spend on it, the longer my line editors or proofers have to spend on it, the more it costs. Publishing is still a business and it’s part of my job to make the best use of my house’s resources as I can.

It also directly affects my ability to appreciate and enjoy the story. Like it or not, each time I see an error, it drags me out of the story and breaks my immersion. Too many times and I can’t follow the story very well and end up not liking it as much as I possibly could have. You don’t want to let mechanical errors get in the way of the story.

I want to strongly encourage anyone who submits a work for publication to utilize the marvels of spellcheck and the eagle eyes of a test reader or critique partner. Make your submission as clean and correct as you possibly can before you submit it and you will increase your chances of acceptance.