Monday, June 19, 2017

Editing the Editor!

Ruthy here, introducing my talented friend, marketing communications expert and editor Michael Ehret... I've known Mike for years, and he's one of the 'good guys'... you know the type, he says what he means, he's got a good heart, he's true blue and he knows writing... and loves it! I'm delighted to have him with us today, talking about how an editor reacts to being edited! Take it away, Mike!

Wait, What Do You Mean You Have “A Few Edits”?

As editors, we’ve all said these words:
·         Every writer needs a good editor.
·         Nothing is so good it can’t be edited and made better.
·         It just needs a little polish.

And—I’ll stake my reputation on this—those words are true. Well, they’re true for everyone else. Not me. I’ve been writing a long time and I’ve edited other’s words. I know what I’m doing. My words are gold. My mother even said so.

(Quit snickering!)


Recently, I had the opportunity to contribute a novella to “Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection.” Seven of us participated and it was fun! My story, “Big Love,” introduces two people involved in building and tiny houses who come together in a surprising way:

Berly Charles remembers the days before her father was a successful business tycoon in Indianapolis, Ind. Growing up a razor’s edge from homelessness planted a tiny desire for home in her heart that she now, as the owner of Le Petite Maison, LLC, fills for others by building their tiny home ideals.

Nathan “Rafe” Rafferty is a writer for a nationally recognized architecture journal who is used to calling his own shots. When he gets assigned to cover a new trend—tiny houses—the idea makes him furious. Could it be because it reminds him of when he and his mother had to live in a lean-to shack under a railroad trestle in Indianapolis?

Homelessness expanded her world and constricted his. Now she needs his help, but he only remembers the pain. Can they find big love in a tiny house?

So that’s the story I wrote. I’m not sure exactly how this happened. I must have had an off day—or an off 120 days—while writing because when I received my manuscript back from the book’s editor (and one of the co-authors), Linda Yezak, she had edits.

No, really. The book was FULL of them.

She called me “dash happy” and questioned my parentage! Apparently, writing—like—William Shatner talks—is—a little—too much—style. And I guess I sort of prefer the British spellings of certain words to the less colourful American spellings. So kill me.

But then it got worse.

Linda Yezak—bless her heart!—said I wrote a cliché. Or, maybe, several of them. Land o’ Goshen! That woman couldn’t see the forest for the trees. She left no stone unturned trying to ferret out clichés.

In a nutshell, at the end of the day, even though she was bold as brass, Linda was right because two wrongs don’t make a right and two (or more) clichés don’t make great sentences. (Like these, eh?)

So, yes, I guess it’s true. Every writer (even me) needs a good editor. Here are just a few of the other things Linda suggested I fix in “Big Love.”

Logistical and repetitive word problems

I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer. As you know, that means I just sort of spit it out and then go back and fix it later. Well, I don’t always catch everything. Here’s a general clean up example from Linda’s edit.

Text Box: Comment 12          LWY Got some logistical problems here. He can see some things in his peripheral vision, but would he be able to focus enough through his peripheral vision to recognize Holden's squinty-eyed look? You may want to divide this out into two sentences and get Rafe to focus on Holden.

As he peered over his phone, pretending to pay no attention, Rafe saw Holden in his peripheral vision, stroking stroke the stubble he’d been nursing into a beard for six months, his patented far-away-deep-in-thought squinty-eyed look he thought made him seem thoughtfulcontemplative, playing out on his increasingly mashable face.

Starting at the top, I forgot a comma at the beginning of that non-essential phrase—“pretending to pay no attention”—that needed to be there. That phrase is non-essential from the sense of the sentence. I could have just eliminated it. But it is a characterization phrase. In other words, it helps the reader get a sense of who Rafe is and how he works in the world.

The logistical problem she points out is obvious—or should have been, lol—but then there’s also the triple use of the word thought within one very long confusing sentence. I must have written this on the day I was suffering from the rockin’ pneumonia and the boogie-woogie flu.

Here’s how I fixed it for the final:

As he peered over his phone, pretending to pay no attention, Rafe saw Holden stroke the stubble he’d been nursing into a beard for six months. This he had to see. His editor’s patented far-away-deep-in-thought look he thought made him seem contemplative, was now playing out on the man’s increasingly mashable face.

Notice what Linda didn’t change: “increasingly mashable face.” Mashable is not a real world, but again, it’s character development for Rafe. He carries around a lot of anger from his past, so this is a close-to-the-surface emotion. And he is a culture sponge, in this case Adam West’s “Batman.”

Since it is a novella, the relationship had to develop quickly, but believably. A good editor walks the line between suggesting improvements and making improvements. In this example, Linda suggested that she thought I could do a better job showing Rafe’s evolving feelings for Berly. She was right. Here’s the original:

He opened his file for another review of his research and was gripped again by her eyes in the IBJ portrait piece—as well as the playfulness of the pose. The photographer had shot her as Rosie the Riveter, only she had a hammer in her hands. It was cute. Very cute.


And then, from the final manuscript:

He opened his file for another review of his research and saw Timberly’s portrait again. Those eyes. So deep and sparkling with playfulness. The photographer had shot her as Rosie the Riveter, only she had a hammer in her hands. It was cute. And charming. 


In the first—“was gripped again by her eyes”—is narrative telling. The second—“Those eyes. So deep and sparkling with playfulness”—is deeper POV showing. The reader sees Berly’s eyes from Rafe’s point of view. I’m not telling you he was gripped, I’m showing you.

Linda, like any fine editor, took my story, in my voice, and showed me ways to improve it—make it stronger. That is the benefit of a great editor. And that is why we all need them.


For the contest today, we’re giving away one print book and three e-books of Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection, which contains Michael Ehret’s novella, “Big Love. To enter, answer the following question in the comments. Be sure to leave an email address so we can contact you.

Question: Could you live in a tiny home? Why or why not? Or, if you prefer, share your best advice for learning how to show and not tell. What tips and techniques have worked for you?


Michael Ehret has accepted God's invitation to write with Him and is also a freelance editor at WritingOnTheFineLine.com. In addition, he's worked as editor-in-chief of the ACFW Journal magazine for the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), was editor-in-chief of the Christian Writers Guild, and he pays the bills as a marketing communications writer. Michael sharpened his writing and editing skills as a reporter for The Indianapolis News and The Indianapolis Star.

He’s been married for 36 years to Deb and they have three children, one dog (a miniature Schnauzer named Baxter), and a granddog. Since he writes fiction by the seat of his pants, who knows what’s next?




107 comments :

  1. Welcome to Seekerville, Michael. I've put in your order for lemon bars and am right now on a reconnaissance mission to my neighbor's yard for lemons. If I do not return..don't feel too guilty.

    I absolutely LOVE the cover of your book. So inviting. Praying for a landslide success!

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    1. Tina, thanks for the (muffled chewing) lemon bars! So glad you made it back!

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    2. I will admit to being concerned because you never know what folks will do in 100+ degree temps! Glad you're back safely, Tina!!! ;)

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  2. Tiny house? Not for me - too many shoes and I'm keeping them all! LOL

    The book sounds like fun though. Wishing you great success with it and please enter me in the drawing.

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    1. Terri, you're in! I know what you mean about a lot of shoes. I'd have to keep all four pairs of mine, too. :)

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    2. Burst out laughing! I love shoes, but I don't have too many... but winter shoes, summer sandals and sneakers...

      Now if you're talking BOOKS. I need to build a tiny house made of books!!!!

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  3. I could never live in a tiny house. I have too much "stuff" and although my house is small now, any smaller and I'd go crazy.

    Good luck on your book. I would love to be entered into your giveaway.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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    1. Cindy, truthfully we vacillate. But our big problem (is that a pun?) is we like to be "the gathering place" for family and friends. All family dinners are held here. In fact, just yesterday! Not sure I could give that up.

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    2. See, that's our problem, too... And we're a farm. We can't move the farm to a tiny house. And folks gather here a lot. And there's the books. And kids. Way too many kids. I'd have to stack 'em.... :)

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    3. Pretend you're in Little House on the Prairie. Didn't they share a bed? Surely they wouldn't mind, right? Like the little Who children in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Five in one bed.

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  4. Mikey!!!! I'm so glad you're here with us today, and I love the very idea of a tiny house collection.... I remember being challenged by an editor to write a "love in a soddy" story (Prairie Promises, Barbour's Homestead Brides Collection) and it was so much fun because it is a challenge to create a love story in a non-traditional setting. GO YOU GUYS!!!!

    Tina brought lemon bars????

    Oh be still my heart! YES!

    I've got coffee, gallons of it, sleep was broken last night... so coffee it is!

    GOOOOOOOOOOD MORNING, SEEKERVILLE!!!!!!!!

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    1. Lands! Coffee and lemon bars. How I've missed Seekerville!

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    2. There you go! We feed with food, faith and fiction!!!

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  5. My books alone would fill up a couple of tiny houses!
    Thanks so much for visiting Seekerville today, Michael.
    Wishing you the best with your book. The cover is beautiful!

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    1. Jill, I was thinking about this the other day. Could I construct my tiny house out of books? If each wall was a wall of shelves...

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    2. Plastic bound? Mortar-bound? Shingled books???

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  6. What a fun way of teaching us how to correct our mistakes. I couldn't live in a tiny house. I would not have room for my books. When I take trips i feel like I'm living out of my tiny car!

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    1. This seems to be our theme of the day, LOL! MIKEY! WHERE WOULD WE PUT THE BOOKS???

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    2. For our purposes, I think we'd need to create annexes. Which would likely end up being bigger than the house itself.

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  7. Fresh eyes, especially the great editor type, are priceless. Loved this post, Michael.

    And yes, I'd live in a tiny house. I can say that based on some experiences.
    Have a great week, all!

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    1. Debra, my wife and I are exploring the many options to rent a tiny house for vacation. Have you done this?

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  8. Tiny house? Sure--as long as it's on vacation. What about a sewing room? Serious cooking? Gardening? All the decorations for various seasons, many of which I've quilted? Nope, not for me...but maybe for vacation. :-)

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    1. I concur ... they would make a great vacay house.

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  9. What about the idea of tiny houses for homeless people? I love this idea... and I can see that it works better in milder climates than mine, but if it could be done affordably here, what a wonderful thing that would be!

    I love the challenge of making a tiny house ROMANTIC.... :)

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    1. One of the challenges, and obviously I love the idea since the novella includes it, is how to avoid creating a homeless ghetto of tiny houses. They can be a great solution in some homelessness situations, but, like any other such idea, serious thought needs to be given to how to help the residents integrate effectively into the larger community.

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    2. Before I'd heard of tiny houses, I'd been amazed by all these teeny green buildings surrounding a lake we pass. I've decided they're rentals for fishermen, though I'm guessing as I've never checked it out.

      Janet

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  10. Okay, back to editing... Editing is huge. My daughter is also an editor and I don't know how authors exist without them... and I've seen authors use other writers/friends with mixed results...

    I remember the first time Mike was here, I'd sent him something of mine to use as an example, and he edited it and got SCOLDED for changing Ruthy words... LOL!!! It was kind of funny, but I didn't want him scolded... and he made great points!

    And that's maybe why it's good that readers don't see the rawness of some new work. We like them to think we're that good. :) LAUGHING!

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    1. Good point ... (not that I'm still nursing my wounds...). Just like writers need a thick rhino skin, so do editors. Our work isn't always appreciated, but is always necessary.

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  11. Mike, how do folks know when they're ready to hire an editor as opposed to needing a critique partner, etc.? I had one nice lady tell me recently that she's been in a critique group for over a decade... and doesn't see forward progress.

    What would you suggest to her?

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    1. I find that it's personal, like so much in this biz. If you don't see your work advancing (whatever that means to you), it could be time to see about hiring a good developmental editor. Someone who can talk with you about what you're trying to accomplish with your MS and help you see where what you're doing (or not doing) is hampering that.

      As wonderful as critique groups are, and I highly recommend them, you can reach the end of the benefit a particular group is offering. It may be time to switch groups or look at other options for help.

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    2. Agreed... I've seen folks exhaust themselves trying to impress other writers... without forward progress.

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  12. Hi Michael (and Ruth) - What an enjoyable post. (I like dashes too.) Your subject is something I have often wondered about, sort of tongue-in cheek (maybe I like cliches too, not to mention parens) Anyway, wouldn't the whole process be easier if the editors wrote the books? That way they would get the perfect book the first time around. Right?
    I'd live in a tiny house as long as I had a big house to put my books in. Just sayin. . .

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    1. (snicker) Editors writing the perfect book. (Snicker). Have we all gone to a comedy club together? Did someone remember the lemon bars?

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  13. After reading the comments about the tiny houses, I think what we all need here in Seekerville is a tiny house as our library next to our regular-sized homes!

    This was a great post, Michael. I am working on using deep POV better.

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    1. Sandy, oh me too, me too. Deep POV is something that can always be improved on.

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    2. Or maybe the tiny house next door would be an office. We'd leave our big house and go to our tiny house where we would create delightful prose, returning later in the day to the big house where dinner has been prepared and waiting for us.

      Ah, am I living in a fictional world?

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    3. If you are, then I want the address.

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  14. Hi Michael!

    I love my editors. I can self-edit and do a fair job at it, but I don't have the distance and fresh eyes that my editors do. They see things that I'm blind to, and I'm always...well, usually...grateful. :)

    And I couldn't live in a tiny house. Oh, maybe in good weather, when our living space can spill to the outdoors, but when it's raining? I'm afraid I'd get claustrophobic.

    Then there's the gathering factor that was mentioned earlier. As much as I enjoy solitude, I also enjoy having friends and family filling the house, and they need room to mingle in comfort.

    Nope. Give me a fair sized living space with a view. :)

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    1. Yep, I totally get that. That's why I love the idea as a getaway home.

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    2. Jan said: "I'm always...well, usually...grateful."

      Totally totally get it!!!! :-D

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  15. Michael, welcome back! I got such a kick out of your post. :)

    I often get a laugh out of critiques and edits, when someone points out my repetitions and crazy wordings. I also laugh when I get a critique back and find that my northern Indiana critique partner has suggested slashing all kinds of words out of my southern voice (wordiness). LOL I do delete a lot of them, but then have a gleeful chuckle as I leave some of them for flavor and imagine her reading it later. Ha!

    As for tiny houses... I love that show! But I could never live in one. Oh my goodness, I would go crazy. I would also never be able to live so simply. Plus, I, like some of you have said, want room for all the family to come home!

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    1. I should probably clarify that my laughing is only at MYSELF! Not at the editor. :) I laugh because I can't believe some of the dumb mistakes I've made. :)

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    2. Well, of course! No one would EVER laugh at an editor. Not as serious as we all are ...

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    3. Missy, guilty as charged. But what I love is you accept the crits that fit your style and ignore the rest. Good job!

      Janet

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  16. Hi Michael, Thanks for visiting in Seekerville today and giving us some wonderful humor to start the week. Of course we don't see our own mistakes. I can find all kinds of things in my crit partners work that I don't see in my own. sigh.

    We live in our RV (motorhome) so love tiny homes and spaces. We love it. In fact, we never go home. We just keep on traveling around to our favorite places.

    Thanks again for joining us. Have a great day.

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    1. Sandra, that's one of the attractions and scary things about a THOW (Tiny Home On Wheels). Never going "home."

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  17. Editors are extremely savvy, as long as it's not their own work they are editing. I think when something is so entwined with your brain, it's hard to see the mistakes.
    I'm not published, but my one interaction with an honest-to-goodness editor showed me that wow! They really do know their stuff.
    Someday I hope to actually write something worthy of publication. I'm in an absorb learning phase with a little bit of short story exercises in writing thrown in. *sigh*

    As our home presently feels (to me) like it looks like a storage unit threw up, er... exploded its contents - I'm desiring to live in a tiny house with all the junk sloughed away. My answer for all the books I want to keep? Ummmmm... perhaps having them all on a super Kindle type apparatus. That, or parked that tiny house right next to a public library for my book fix.
    Please put my name in the draw for the book. I love the blurb!

    And thanks for the humor filled wealth of information in the post.

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    1. p.s.
      I am an awful repeater of certain words. I also think I use ... excessively. Just sayin'

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    2. You're in! We all have our writing idiosyncrasies.

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  18. Your novella caught me right off and made me laugh so hard, I'm amazed I caught anything at all. Great story, great voice. Can't wait to see more of your writing!

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    1. DebH said something about how great editors are until they edit their own work. How very true! It's amazing what I miss until I hit the "publish" button---and then all my mistakes become perfectly clear.

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    2. Thanks Linda! I still maintain that gremlins got into my MS *after* I sent it to you. There's NO WAY I made all of those mistakes. Bahahahaha!

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    3. I wouldn't be surprised. I'm sure they're of the same breed that get into my work.

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  19. Lemon bars? Did someone say lemon bars? Our 15-year-old grandson made lemon bars this weekend for his dad's birthday!

    OH MY GOODNESS!!! THEY WERE SO YUMMY!!!!!

    Sorry, we didn't save you any, Michael. Maybe next time . . .

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  20. Hi Mike:

    I was a copy editor for many years. When I first took over the job, my boss had a firm rule: "Don't edit copy the way you would have written it."

    I found that was the hardest rule I had to follow. After all, I could write. My writing sold a lot of product that was directly attributed to my copy. I was a student of what worked in direct response advertising. "Fix mistakes and make the ad stronger but don't mess with style."

    This very difficult rule make me aware that I am my own worse editor. I know what I know but what if mistakes are in those areas I don't know? Then what? Who will watch the watchmen? Who will edit the editors?

    I'm wondering about one fiction rule I took as gospel:

    "Never abbreviate in fiction."

    I was surprised to read, "successful business tycoon in Indianapolis, Ind."

    I'm not sure if I've ever seen an abbreviation in the narrative part of the text. Was anything said about this? I was told by the nuns, over 60 years ago, that abbreviating shows disrespect for your reader. Of course, in the brave new world of texting, abbreviation might be considered being long winded! What do you think?

    Also, I much prefer your original,

    "It was cute. Very cute."

    than the revision,

    "It was cute. And charming. "

    The word 'cute' and the word 'charming' are too closely related. It would be like saying, "He's big. And large." To me that's redundant. I once edited a 400 page text book by a PhD who loved compound adjectives. ("Knowing this is important and essential.") I must have reduced 400 of these couplets to just one of the adjectives.

    Of course, if it read, "It was cute. But stupid," that would be a horse of a different color.

    About little houses:

    I have a rule not to live in house that is smaller than I am. In fact, I think the desire for tiny houses is a modern psychosis which I call: 'spatial anorexia'. Bad stuff.

    Please enter me in the drawing for an ecopy of your novella. I like my novellas long and my novels short.

    Vince

    P.S. I think I would pick you as my editor.

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    1. My best laugh so far, Vince. Thanks for stopping by. Re: Cute and charming. Perfect example of how different people read different things and the impact of personal preferences. PP is important. The way it ended up fits the character's voice patterns better. It's hard to see that in an isolated snippet, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it. :)

      Re: Abbreviations. Another perfect example. Perfect example of something we missed.

      CMOS does say to spell out states when used like that. No matter how many times a book is gone over, and this one was gone over a lot by many editors and just plain picky readers (talking about my wife, here, who has been known to put down a book for these kinds of errors), but still things get overlooked and missed. Editors are helpful and important, but not infallible. So always give yours grace. He or she is human, too. Even when it doesn't seem like it.

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  21. Mike, welcome! Great to have a fellow Hoosier in the house! Thanks for the wonderful humor and transparency of your post. It's encouraging to see that even editors need editors.

    I could never live in a tiny house but when I watch HGTV's Tiny House show, I'm fascinated by the clever solutions for storage and indoor activities.

    I find ferreting out and replacing telling with showing to be tedious at times. In your example of using saw to correct "narrative telling," which is a problem of mine, is it acceptable to say: He opened the file to Kimberly's photo. She stared back at him. Those eyes... Or is that too convoluted? For some reason I thought we were to avoid "saw" and just show what he saw.

    Janet

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    1. Janet, thanks for the welcome.

      Your solution is certainly viable, too. I have no problems with "saw," but I also have no problems with finding different ways to say that. It's a style choice for me. Shorter sentences in Rafe's POV make him more of a typical man. But he is quite educated, so he does have moments when he's more verbose. However, as a general guideline, my guys say fewer words.

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    2. Mike, your point is important. Some things are just style differences, a matter of voice. Not a rule by a long shot.

      Your cover is so pretty! A collection of Tiny House stories is clever and so current. I'm sure it'll attract readers. Your story sounds terrific with loads of conflict.

      Janet

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  22. Michael, I am dash-happy too. It has come up more than once. Sigh.
    I agree with what you've said. Anything can be improved by putting it in Deep POV.
    I already live in a four-room ranch and I have a ton of hobbies and collections, so no, tiny houses are not for me. Unless it's a choice between that and no house at all. But I do love novellas, so put me in the drawing.
    SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION...of someone else. I went to my crit partner Clarice James's book-signing on Saturday. She didn't have a book launch for her first book, "Double Header," from Mountainview, so she promoted both that and her second book, "Party of One," which just came out with Elk Lake. She does contemporary women's fiction and her stuff is definitely worth a look. Just sayin'.
    Bringing it back to Michael's post...Clarice (above) is really good at catching my repetitive words. We ALL NEED A FRESH SET OF EYES, whether it's a professional editor or a crit partner. We are all in this together.
    Back later,
    KB

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    1. Clarice is a dear dear friend of mine, too. We have been in a group, well, more of a mutual admiration society, for years. I should definitely use her more for critiquing. She does, indeed, have a great eye.

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  23. WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, MICHAEL!! And I gotta admit -- I LOVE this post!! It's rather fun to hear that editors get edited too! ;)

    I really love how you showed your edits before and after, Michael -- VERY helpful!!

    I'm with Deb H -- I'm an "awful repeater" of words, too, but on my 1st editing pass, I try to catch as many as I can and switch it up with something else.

    Vince said: "I was a copy editor for many years. When I first took over the job, my boss had a firm rule: "Don't edit copy the way you would have written it."

    WHOA, BUDDY ... wish the first copy editor I ever had had applied that philosophy because she literally changed over 400 things and actually wrote snide remarks in the margin area that really ticked me off. I'm sure for some people she was a really good copy editor, but when she edited A Passion Most Pure, she messed with my rhythm SO much, it was like a zap with a cattle prod when I first proofed it (did you notice how I avoided "like fingernails on a chalkboard, Michael, although that would definitely drive the point home a lot sooner!) ;) Anyway, she literally rewrote lines, added new ones, and deleted others. Fortunately for me, my acquisitions editor was on my side and told me I could change them all back because it was my book, not the copy editor's. Needless to say, I requested another copy editor after that, who edited my next eight books with that publisher, and we got along famously!!

    And I couldn't agree more that an editor is a must!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. Julie, you are a divine writer! I'm glad you don't let anyone mess with your rhythm. I, too, wish copy editor's took more of Vince's advice. It is a HARD thing to learn, but you become such a better editor when you learn it. It's NOT your writing, your voice. Your job as the editor is to enhance the writer's voice, not change or erase it.

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  24. Michael, like Tina, I love your cover, and it sucks me right in!!

    You asked: "Could you live in a tiny home? Why or why not?"

    Oh, heavens YES!! I LOVE tiny homes because they are soooo darn cute and economical!! If I were a single person, I would definitely consider a tiny home on a small plot of land with a lake or pond. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie


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  25. yes, I could! Making plans for selling everything in 2 years, and buying a trailer. We're planning to travel around the country for a year, then plunk that trailer, AKA, tiny house, on a piece of land overlooking the ocean in mexico.

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    1. You had me at "overlooking the ocean." :)

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  26. Michael, welcome! I enjoyed your blog. Great tutorial for all of us. I love my editor. When she speaks, I listen...or perhaps I should say when she edits, I accepts her suggestions. She always makes my story a better read.

    Your tiny house novella made me realize I need to think outside the box, so to speak, and include some of the new treads in my work. Why didn't I think about writing a tiny house story? Oh, I know. I'm writing Amish. They would never live in a tiny house. But still...I need to search for new ideas to make my writing fresh. Thanks for that tip!

    Lemon bars are always delightful. Thanks, Tina.

    May I offer you a slice of Red Velvet Cake and a glass of iced tea, Michael? Tea will be served in the tiny house located on Seekerville island. See you there!

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    1. Debby, that's a great point. We need to stay up to date on culture.

      Red velvet is my favorite cake!

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    2. After all of these lemon bars? I'll take the tea, though. Sweet, of course.

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    3. Debby, I had the same thought that Mike's story used a trend that's hot now. Tiny houses are a cool tie in between all these stories. Doesn't mean the characters have to live in one.

      Janet

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  27. Could I live in a tiny house?

    Probably not. :)

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  28. Yes, I could live in a tiny house. It would be an adventure.

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    1. Carol, as my character, Berly Charles, says in "Big Love":

      "Adventures are always a good thing. Without them, life gets stale like the unwanted heel of a loaf of bread. Eventually the edges curl up and the bread starts to turn green. Not attractive.”

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    2. Of course, I meant "Caryl," since ALL good editors check names. Silly fat fingers!

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  29. Congrats on the release of the novella collection! It looks fabulous and I love the premise of your story.

    If it was just me, I could live in a tiny house, but with someone else? No way! My husband would need his own living arrangements. ;)

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  30. Okay, I wrote an amusing little comment about my sudden return after an extended absence and it disappeared, reminding me of why I'd stopped visiting blogger blogs. I'll try it one more time.

    It's good to be back, though y'all may not remember me. Mike, you did a great job on Big Love. Linda is great, isn't she? Congrats on your debut!

    Let's try this again!

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    1. She's trying to hide, but Ms. Kimberli wrote another of the FINE stories in "Coming Home." Her contribution is "A Dash of Pepper" -- and you will love it!

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    2. Kimberli, blogger acts up from time to time. So sorry about your disappearing comment. How frustrating. Thanks for giving us a second chance. :)

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    3. Mike, I'm hiding because several years ago I assured several of the Seekers I clearly wasn't meant to write and that I was going back to the real world. I had no idea then that writing wouldn't let go, especially when writing had Linda Yezak on its side lol

      Hi Debby! I generally use Firefox and have a great deal of trouble with Blogger blogs. I can barely comment on my own. I decided to use Edge this time but made the mistake of doing the "Preview" before hitting publish. It wiped out an amusing re-introduction I'd written. Lessons.

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    4. I suspect they didn't believe you either.

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    5. It happens, but now I'm having a great time working with everyone on this wonderful collection!

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  32. Hi Mike:

    I couldn't agree more with trying to take into account personal preferences. I am also very understanding of other editors. What I will not put up with, however, is when an editor corrects me and that editor is wrong! This doesn't happen with English mistakes but it has with facts.

    For example: there was an editor who wrote that 'everyone knows the Julius Caesar was the first Roman Emperor and that he changed the calendar and named July after himself.' I had to tell her that the reason they assassinated Caesar was they feared he would try to become an emperor. He didn't make it. It was Augustus who had Caesar's calendar implemented.

    BTW: not to be outdone, Augustus named August after himself and give it 31 days just like July has! I just hated that when I was in the military and had to wait that extra day to get paid -- two months in a row.

    My cardinal editing rule was no sentence can have other than the meaning that was intended. For example, I would not allow things like, "Hurry in! These chairs won't last long." You'd be amazed how many times new copywriters do this?

    My first copy editor was also an artist and he would draw cartoons on the page of the problem, like chairs falling apart, which really got the writer's attention. He would show you your mistake...not tell you about it! No comment...just a cartoon and everyone else in the office having a good laugh at your expense.

    I learned this lesson so well that I now spot this problem in fiction all the time. I get more upset with authors about this because they didn't stop to ask themselves: "Does this sentence have any other meanings or interpretations?"

    While I just hate being pulled out of a story because I had to reread a sentence two or even three times, it's even much worse when the wrong meaning is the opposite of itself but makes perfect sense. In these cases you can go on reading and soon find that nothing makes sense! You have to stop, go back, and try to find out where things went wrong.

    When a writer never seems to make this multiple-meaning mistake, I call it crystal clear writing. It's the only kind I would allow as a advertising copy editor. BTW: Janet Dean is the best crystal clear writer I've found in all of romance. We each have a post under that heading right here on Seekerville.

    I like you PP comment. I have to always keep reminding myself of it when I edit.

    One of my favorite comments from my old boss: "No matter how good you think you are, we don't need two of you."

    Vince

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    1. Vince, you've helped me be even more aware of the importance of clarity when writing anything. Even notes to myself. Have you ever read a Post-it note reminder and had to say, "Huh?" Though sometimes it's my handwriting that's not clear.

      Janet

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  33. I think I could live in a tiny house. My house that I've lived in for about 27 years is very small and I'm used to it, one bathroom, raised four daughters in it.
    I've often wished I could tear a bedroom off every time one of the kids grew up and moved out.
    I sort of object to heating and cooling unused space.

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    1. I was wondering if you'd stop by to say hello! I'm with you on downsizing as the kids leave. I do not understand the people who get a bigger house than they ever had before just as the kids are starting to leave.

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    2. Mike, I understand why people buy bigger houses when the kids leave. They finally have the money and the kids that left get married and have kids and they all come home for visits. Are you buying my logic?

      Janet

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    3. Well, I suppose that could be. I've clearly never thought that way. Lol. I love having family come ... but I don't want them all coming at once and staying.

      And I sure don't want to clean, heat, and cool those rooms for the majority of the year when they aren't there.

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  34. I also don't like painting walls and ceilings that are really large, carpeting vast floors. All of that 'space' is just shutting the outdoors indoors and I always just think, "Nope, just leave it outdoors to begin with."

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  35. Thanks, Michael, for a great post on editing. It's an art to be able to edit and not twist the author's voice!

    Congrats on the release of your novella, Big Love!

    Regarding a Tiny House... When we first bought our ranch house it was what I call a Tiny House at 900 sq. ft. It sat on a rock foundation and was two stories. We had two daughters and a son in college. He chose the bunk house, which was next to the house and made that his room. In the past, the boys who lived in the bunk house had had a wood stove. We know boys lived there because when we tore out the walls to replace the sheet rock, we found vintage newspaper clippings of 1930's starlets thumbtacked to the wooden walls!

    We managed fine in our Tiny House. It was cozy! Later, we added on and that helped! Not sure I'm ready to repeat the experience because our home has become the gathering place for our children and grandchildren...so I think I'll keep my big house for awhile longer!

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    1. It's not always so, but tiny houses are generally defined as 400 sq ft or less. Small houses would be 1000 sq ft or less. Again, not always so, but those are often mentioned as the parameters in the industry.

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  36. I've been editing one of my older manuscripts lately- lots of telling instead of showing. Ugh! But I'm watching it transform.

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  37. This was fascinating, Mike. And here I was thinking that editors would get a pass.

    You are human after all! :)

    Welcome to Seekerville and congrats on the tiny house collection. I think I'd love to live in a tiny house, or maybe a motor home.

    I think it would be fun to travel all over the US staying a few weeks or months at one location, then moving on. Goodness, I could easily pack everything I need in a car. Possessions are highly overrated.

    PS... Having said that, we have WAY too much stuff. Definitely need to downsize at some point.

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    1. Pam, as long as I have a "home" to return to, I think I could go on the road for weeks, even months, at a time with a tiny house.

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  38. Interesting post, Michael. So helpful. I especially appreciate seeing the passages before and after editing. Thank you!

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    1. Laura, thanks for stopping by! I'm glad it was helpful. On my website (www.writingonthefineline.com) I have several posts called In The Edit where I do the same thing with other writer's articles they've written. Basically showing the writing before and after and why I did what I did to improve their prose.

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  39. A day late, it I feel like I could live in a tiny home if I had a big beach nearby.

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  40. Hi Michael. I finally found time to visit Seekerville on Tuesday morning and you've begun my day with a laugh. I loved your cliche paragraph and I am very conscious as I write this that an editor could have a field day! I don't think that I could live in a tiny house. I watch on TV as they climb a ladder to their bedroom loft and I imagine how my aging knees would protest and rebel. And where in that tiny place could I keep my books? :-)
    Thanks for a fun post. I would love to win a copy of this book.
    Connie
    cps1950 at gmail dot com

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  41. I would love to live in a tiny home! My boys talk all the time about how they're going to build a tiny home when they grow up. My husband, however, not interested! He enjoys his space and all his stuff. I could totally go for the minimalist movement, except for my books. I would have to build a huge, climate-controlled book shed right next to my house. My husband has almost 8,000 books and I have over 500 myself. No way we're giving them up! lol

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  42. Walt: I could live anywhere if there was a big beach nearby.

    Connie: Those ladders do scare me, too. However, I've also seen tiny homes that have main floor bedrooms. That'd be me.

    Holly: I say build a tiny house AND a huge library right next door to it!

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  43. I have seen some really clever tiny houses on tv, with multi purpose rooms. With my size family I don't think it would work out too well though. We have 12 children, with 11 still at home, a dog and 5 cats. Plus, where would I put my books? Priorities,you know!
    Deanne Cnnamongirl@aol.com

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    1. Deanne, yeah a tiny house may not be an option for you at this stage of life! Thanks for stopping by.

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