No work? No problem!

Life as a freelance editor and proofreader can be unpredictable. From times of feeling swamped with work and under pressure to get it all done to worries about the future as you having nothing in your inbox.

How do you cope with the down time and what do you do to fill the schedule in the quiet periods?

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Saying too much

Writers, whether experienced or new, frequently come across this problem. It’s easily done, I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of doing it. What is it? Overwriting. In this post, we’ll take a look at how to identify and remove instances of overwriting from your manuscript.

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Suddenly, the editor deleted my words

A client recently asked me if I ever have an opinion on certain words. I don’t. Words are there to communicate a message – to tell a story. I do not sit with a dictionary ticking off the words I love and scratching out the words I hate.

Except one.

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How to understand my editing

Editors and proofreaders all work ever so slightly differently, especially when working with Word documents. Here is a quick guide to what all the marks on your manuscript mean. If there’s anything that doesn’t make sense, is confusing, or you are unsure of, always ask. I am always happy to answer questions.

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Looking ahead to 2021

Well, we made it …

After the year that was, I expect we are all looking forward to a different 2021. I hope that, for you, 2020 wasn’t too hard. I hope that you’ve managed to keep safe and well and those who you love have done so too.

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A Very Sweary Dictionary

When I’m editing or proofreading, I’ll use a variety of tools and reference materials in order to get things right. Along with spelling, one of the biggest things to watch for is hyphenation, closing up or opening up of words.

And sometimes, the technical dictionaries that I use just don’t cut it. Especially for the wide variety of language that we use in fiction.

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On LGBTQ+ Editing: The importance of it all.

In this final part, we’ll look at why LGBTQ+ editing is so important and what you can do if you’re not an expert. In this miniseries we have explored LGBTQ+ characters and language. If you haven’t already, take a look at the previous posts and subscribe to get all the latest blog posts direct to your inbox.

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You don’t have to be LGBTQ+ to read, write, edit or proofread LGBTQ+ fiction. After all, stories are stories and the conventions of genre and language still remain. Whatever the story’s genre, we need strong characters that readers can empathise with, whatever their sexuality or none. Readers need language that is authentic, readable and allows them into the world the writer has created.

Just like any other writing, you need to get the basics right. A strong story, spelling, punctuation and grammar and good characterisation. Plots need to drive forward and readers need to be sucked into the writing. So what makes LGBTQ+ editing different?

The difference with LGBTQ+ editing is the same reason why I do not edit medical textbooks. (You really wouldn’t want that!) As with any writing or editing, your research is crucial. As with medical textbooks, you need to know your stuff. And while nobody is at risk of death with a fiction book, it’s still important you get things right.

  • Are these characters genuine or are they furthering stereotypes?
  • Are reactions believable? Is dialogue authentic or cliché?
  • Is the language used appropriate for the time?
  • What does your story say to – and about – the LGBTQ+ community?

Like many other genres of fiction, LGBTQ+ fiction allows readers to identify something within themselves. Historically, LGBTQ+ people have been underrepresented in fiction. Everybody needs a hero.

But what if you’re not LGBTQ+ and you are writing or editing a story with LGBTQ+ characters? Does it matter? Didn’t you say I need to be an expert?

No! I’m not a spy but I’m able to edit spy thrillers. I’m not an alien from the planet Zorg but I can edit science fiction. (There are some who would disagree that I’m human … but, honestly, I am.)

Writers, have the confidence in your plots and your characters. Tell genuine stories with a diverse cast and you will get it right. If you’re not sure, ask! Fiction editors, have the confidence in your research and if you’re not sure, ask! There are plenty of LGBTQ+ people who would be delighted to help you with your project and point you in the right direction. You can always ask me a question, either in the comments or by getting in touch.

Growing up, I didn’t have access to the books that I needed. LGBTQ+ fiction may have been out there but I didn’t know it. It wasn’t featured in the bookshops I went to or the libraries I visited. With section 28, there weren’t going to be any books in school that I could find. Today’s world has moved on, thankfully, and we can flood the bookshops and the libraries and the schools with great LGBTQ+ fiction.

So what’s stopping you? Get writing! Get editing! Get publishing those fabulous stories!

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On LGBTQ+ editing: Language

This is the second in a mini-series of posts looking LGBTQ+ fiction editing. By LGBTQ+ fiction, I mean any fiction that features LGBTQ+ characters. From erotica to science fiction, stopping off at romance, fantasy and historical. No genre should now be without LGBTQ+ representation.

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