Divas on Editing

Track Changes – Advanced

Posted by on Dec 8, 2014 in Divas on Editing | 0 comments

Track Changes – Advanced

A few months ago, I started my series on Track Changes in Microsoft Word for anyone who was struggling with this feature. Hopefully it has been of use to an author or two. This is article is my last installment in this series and it centers on the options available to you when using this tool. As authors and editors, it is important that we track who made what change to a manuscript. Authors, editors, betas, critique partners, pre-readers, etc. can use the features in this article and my earlier articles, “Track Changes – The Basics” and “Track Changes – Intermediate,” to track the modifications to manuscripts in many ways. For example, by changing the name of the user (covered in the intermediate article), an author can track all the changes they made to their rough draft and name it Revision 2 or Rough Draft Changes or any other name they’d like. If they want to track the changes they made in November, change the username to November. Change Tracking Options Track Changes gives you the option to change how your changes are treated and the colors they appear. To access the Change Options window, select Review from the menu ribbon and select the lower part of the Track Changes icon (the part with the words and the down caret). A pull down menu will appear. Select “Change Tracking Options” and a pop-up window will appear that looks like Figure 1 below. With this window, you can select how you want Track Changes to present different types of changes. This window is set up with five areas: Markup, Moves, Table cell highlighting, Formatting, and Balloons. Markup In the Markup section, you can decide how Track Changes illustrates Insertions, Deletions, Changed Lines, and Comments. It will also allow you to select the color for each change. Insertions & Deletions So, let’s say Track Changes underlines everything you insert into the document, but it makes it hard to distinguish inserted punctuation. You can select the pull down menu next to “Insertions” in the “Markup” and opt to have all inserts shown in “Color only” or a variety of other options. This applies to Deletions as well, but you have a few more options available for how those show. Some of these options won’t come into play until you opt to see the changes “Inline” with the text and not in bubbles in the Markup Area to the right. To learn how to change whether revisions are Inline or appear in the Markup Area in bubbles, read my article “Track Changes – Intermediate.” Don’t be afraid to explore and test different views and tracking options to find what works best for you. Changed Lines “Changed Lines” pertains to the vertical line you see to the left or right of the text that is changed. You have the option to see that line on the left border, the right border, or the outside border of the document. In Figure 2 below the Changed Line is the black vertical line in the left hand margin. This is a simple way to let you know that there is a change on a line. Even if the only change is the addition of a space or deletion of a comma, a vertical line will appear in the margin. As long as there a line in the margin, a change has not been accepted or rejected. Comments & Colors Track Changes also allows you to select the color you want your changes to appear in. If you don’t want to distinguish one reviewer’s change from the next by color, you can change the colors of each type of change. For example, in Figure 3 below, I have changed my options to show additions in red, deletions in bright green, changed lines in blue, and comments in yellow. If you want Track Changes to assign different colors per user, don’t change these. The default for this is “By Author” for Insertions, Deletions and Comments. Moves If you want Track Changes to distinguish when a section of text has...

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Divas on Editing: Proofread

Posted by on Feb 14, 2014 in Divas on Editing | 6 comments

Divas on Editing: Proofread

Divas on Editing: Proofread When most people ask for a proofread, they expect their manuscript will get a once-over to fix errors and make sure it makes sense. But there’s a lot more to a proofread than simply catching typos and misspelled words. Proofreading is less about the content of the document and more about writing and typographical errors. And before you object, the answer is yes, I know proofreaders fix grammatical errors too, but keep in mind that a proofreader’s job is not to edit. In fact, proofreaders technically aren’t editors. They don’t edit the content of the manuscript. They come in after it has been edited and fix common typos and consistency errors with the format and flow of the text (not the story). So what exactly does a proofreader do? This article primarily addresses fiction. With that in mind, this list can vary from one publishing house to another and from one freelance editor to another, but for the most part a proofreader will look at the following: Proofread for sense Common typos and misspelled words such as its/it’s, out/our, you/your, breath/breathe, lead/led, there/their/they’re and your/you’re, to name just a few Misspelled or inconsistent spelling of words Left out or repeated words Illogical, missing, or garbled words and phrases Consistency with headers, footers, footnotes, and page numbers Consistency with chapter numbers, titles, and subtitles Indentation, margins, scene breaks, and other formatting issues Typeface, font size, bold, italics, small caps, use of different fonts, and other design elements pertaining to the text Consistency with quotation marks in use and style, ellipses, em-dash, en-dash, hyphenation breaks, etc. Other formatting or design requirements as put forth by the publisher, if going the traditional route Depending on the genre or purpose of the book, a proofreader may edit for consistency the format, placement, and use of illustrations, tables, and other supplemental material (not typically part of a fiction manuscript). If the book is fiction, a freelance proofread typically does not include the front and back matter (table of contents, glossary, dedications, forwards, back cover items, etc.) as part of the manuscript proofread. If you are self-publishing, it’s always a good idea to ask for your proofreader’s rates to do these extra items. Proofreaders do not rely on grammar or spell checkers to do their jobs, and they even check the words they are certain are spelled correctly. Proofreaders are prized for their attention to detail and consistent nature when it comes to their job because they are typically the last set of eyes to go through the manuscript line by line before production. There’s nothing glamorous about proofreading. In fact, it is rather boring at times because of the meticulous nature of the work. The conscientious proofreader, though, can mean the difference between a book riddled with typos and formatting errors and a book that is pleasing to the eye by removing those glitches that may annoy readers and lessen their experience. Alas, even the most diligent proofreader can miss something from time to time. It’s inevitable because no one’s perfect. Help for Authors & Editors For your viewing pleasure, I have put together a short list of websites with useful lists to help authors and editors alike improve their work. Because most of us don’t have vocabularies the size of Webster’s Dictionary, we tend to misspell the same words. Your Dictionary has put together a list of the 100 Most Often Mispelled Misspelled Words in English. The Purdue University OWL (Online Writing Lab) has a section on proofreading specially designed to help users do a better job proofreading their own material. Wikipedia has a put together a few great lists to get you started, with one each for homophones, repetition, and grammar & misc. This link will take you to a landing page with links to all three >> Wikipedia’s Lists of Common Misspellings. Dumbtionary is a site dedicated to misspelled words. Just enter the misspelled word to find the correct spelling. Or if you’re an editor trying to find all the ways a word can be misspelled for a search, enter the correct spelling with...

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Divas on Editing: Line Editing

Posted by on Feb 7, 2014 in Divas on Editing | 4 comments

Divas on Editing: Line Editing

Divas on Editing: Line Editing When I saw that I was writing an article about line editing, I laughed out loud. And then I panicked. Line editing has been a sort of abstract concept to me, something in the periphery that I never quite understood. For me, editing started out as a very definitive exercise; my first editing experience was beta reading for a friend, and I would correct her grammar and punctuation and watch for typos and misused words because that kind of stuff just came naturally. We would talk about story lines and plot holes and character voices and such, but it never occurred to me early on that we were developing her story. Later, when I read for more friends, I’d start picking up on additional things like plot and timeline consistency, point of view and character tones, story arcs and conflict. But even then, it all fell under the ‘editing’ umbrella, and I didn’t give it another thought. If something seemed off, the author should know about it and it was my job to tell her. It wasn’t until I decided to pursue editing as a profession that I learned all these different concepts fell under specific subheadings of editing. And I realized just how much I still had to learn. There was proofreading, copy editing, content editing, developmental editing, line editing… I’m sure if I search, I’d could come up with terms I’ve never heard of before. And depending on the editor or publishing house, these terms can become almost interchangeable. As I may have mentioned in my first Divas on Editing article, my strength is copy editing. I love copy editing because I tend to think in concrete concepts like right and wrong, yes and no. So line editing is, by far, the most abstract—simply because it’s a different thing to everyone you ask. Of course I’m being facetious; there are constants in common to just about every definition or explanation of line editing you can find. Line editing is most often described as such because the editor picks apart the manuscript—line by line—looking for consistency and adherence to a specific style. This is extremely meticulous work as the editor is often watching for overused or misused words, changes in tone or atmosphere, and sentence and paragraph structure. But there are just as many variations to the definition. I’ve seen line editing described as focusing on the prose:  sentence flow, word choice, voice, style… writing as a craft. Some editors describe it as cutting the fat—getting rid of any unnecessary words and using all remaining words to their fullest potential. In my research, I found one editor who suggests line editing steps to tighten up prose that include looking at each sentence you’ve written individually, eliminating all clichés and idioms, and using your thesaurus for dead verbs. I’ve even seen some explanations of line editing that seemed to combine all of the above with some of the mechanical features of copy editing. Ultimately, the theme is that line editing looks at your manuscript at an almost molecular level, selecting each word, phrase, sentence, and paragraph and arranging them in the best way possible in order to draw a response from your readers. The more I research line editing, the more I realize that it’s like doing a copy edit on the less-than-technical stuff. Because copy editing, at least for me, is done at a word level, but hits the mechanical parts of writing: the spelling, the punctuation, the grammar, etc. Line editing is its evil, I mean creative, twin. Where copy editing focuses on clarity and consistency, line editing focuses on style and flow. So, is line editing its own item on the menu, or is it something that most editors do automatically as they’re editing because, well, they’re editors?  I think the answer is a little of both. When I’m working on a copy edit, I often come across words and phrases and wonder if perhaps there aren’t more fitting choices. I’m not going to skip over them and not alert my author...

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Divas on Editing: Developmental Edit

Posted by on Jan 31, 2014 in Divas on Editing | 0 comments

Divas on Editing: Developmental Edit

Today, the Divas discuss developmental editing—what it is and what to expect if you hire an editor to develop your manuscript. Developmental editing is an intensive form of editing. It is target and tailored to the specific needs of your manuscript and abilities as an author. The editor, and sometimes editors, may act as teachers, ghostwriters, writing coaches, and creative consultants. You should ask your editor what is included in your edit and what is not. You’ll find that this ranges from editor to editor and it is based more on the editor’s time and skills than any standard in this type of editing. The scope of the edit targets the areas in which the author or the manuscript is most deficient. This is therapy for your words. The edit may be highly technical, highly creative, or perhaps somewhere in between. The reason that you should consider a developmental edit is because most publishers do not take the time to develop manuscripts. If they find a manuscript wanting, they will just turn it down. If you find that you are getting lots of rejections when querying, it’s time to consider getting a manuscript assessment. If the editor who has assessed your manuscript recommends a developmental edit, don’t discount this recommendation. It could be the difference between a manuscript publishers want and one they do not. There is no specific timeframe in the revision process during the developmental edit. Your editor may set a period of time she will dedicate to your project, but there is no one-size-fits-all standard. Generally, development is reserved for completed manuscripts that have severe deficiencies. There are many areas in which an editor may develop your manuscript. Common ones are as follows: characterizations, character motives, dialogue, pacing, plotting and technical structure. If you hire an editor to develop your manuscript, expect to engage in heavy rewrites and some painful revisions. It’s never easy when an editor suggests cutting a pivotal character or chapter. A developmental editor works closely with the author. Expect to discuss your plot and characters with her and for her to make suggestions for changes to those elements. There’s a bit of back and forth between the author and the editor, and the edit can be a protracted process. Generally, a developmental editor or the editing house will quote you an overall price for the project. Per word or per pages costs are a bit difficult to define. The editor will read your manuscript and then give you a quote based on how much of their time they believe it will take to improve your story. Expect developmental editing to be very expense, as most tailored things are. So, while developmental editing is worthwhile, keep in mind that it is beyond the scope of other types of editing. This is a content edit or substantive edit on steroids. It is literally blood, sweat and tears for both you and your editor, but you will walk away with a stellar manuscript and lessons that will be the foundation for a vast improvement in your writing...

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Divas On Editing: Content Edit

Posted by on Jan 24, 2014 in Divas on Editing | 0 comments

Divas On Editing: Content Edit

Divas On Editing: Content Edit   What is a content edit? A content edit of a manuscript is an edit that focuses strongly on story, plot, inconsistencies, character development, structure, pacing, and flow. Although grammar and punctuation are also part of the process, a large effort is placed on the creative elements instead of the technical ones. The primary goal is to edit with a creative touch, and the majority of the marks will have a suggestive tone. Each content edit can be individualized from editor to editor and author to author. A strong content editor will have a concentrated eye on storytelling and understand what the reader will interpret while reading an author’s book. Since each content edit can be customized to cater to the author, no content edit will be the same. Typically this edit comes after the author feels his or her book is ready to have a solid technical critique from a professional and after it’s been through a developmental edit if needed. Content Editing vs. Beta Reading Oftentimes content editing and beta reading can be thought to be the same. The biggest and most significant difference between the two is that the majority of editors have professional experience in publishing.  They have specific training in all areas of editing that can benefit the author. Beta readers, not to be discredited, are excellent if an author is looking for a reader-type critique.  Many beta readers read for pleasure and pastime. And there are no specific qualifications to beta read. What Will You Get? Authors who get a manuscript assessments before editing begins will have a good idea of what type of edit they will need. This is a good time to decide if a content edit is right for you. Usually in assessments, a detailed rundown is given addressing the areas of concern that need work. A content editor will effectively tackle them one by one with the author. In last week’s article by Diva Janine, she  discussed manuscript assessments and the different points editors will cover: plot, pacing, setting, characterizations, and voice and tone. All of these elements directly translate into a content edit. A content editor with a keen eye will make sure your work is clean, tight, and well-paced. Authors may also ask content editors for professional opinions on aspects they are unsure about. Content editing involves a lot of questions for the author about what they want their readers to see when they read the finished book. If  the author wants the readers to visualize the grand world he or she built but feel the story could use some help showing the bigger picture, a content editor can help the author express those thoughts. If the trouble is with backstory and character motivation, a content editor will point the issues out and offer suggestions for improvement. Generally, a content editor will talk to the author to gain an understanding of the author’s concerns before delving into the edit. The editor will also keep in close contact with the author during the edit, keeping the author abreast of how the edit is going and when other concerns pop up as the work progresses. For example: fact checks, plot holes, story line suggestions, tense, character development, and streamlining. A content editor will also help cut down wordiness, creative dialogue tags, nonsensical phrases or sentences, and confer with the author on whether to add more depth to scenes or plotlines. The editor will identify mundane detail and advise the author on how to better describe scenes with the show vs. tell method. Independent Publishing vs. Publishing Houses There is a huge difference in content editing between independent authors and publishing houses. An independent author pays an editor to edit the content of the story while retaining complete control of the process. A publishing house will chose what will be edited and what will not. Content editing at a publishing house can range from the author contributing to the process to almost no contact with their editor. A content edit at a publishing house may consist of the...

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Divas on Editing: Manuscript Assessment

Posted by on Jan 17, 2014 in Divas on Editing | 2 comments

Divas on Editing: Manuscript Assessment

Manuscript Assessment A manuscript assessment has several names: assessment, critique, analysis, evaluation, etc. But what does it do? It is an editor’s evaluation of a story as a whole. It points out the strengths and weaknesses of a manuscript to help the author find problem areas at an early stage in the writing and polishing process. The assessment looks at several areas that contribute to the overall construction and success of a story and offers ways to improve. When should an author get a manuscript assessment? Typically after the second or third draft when the author has cleaned up the first draft and tightened up the story a bit. It’s usually when the author wants to know if the story has promise and can no longer see objectively where to improve the story or is at a loss about how to fix certain elements. An editor with a fresh unbiased perspective will read the story and offer an honest critique of where to improve and how to do it. But what specifically should an author expect from an assessment? This can vary from one editor to the next, but most assessments will check the following elements of the manuscript. Please keep in mind this list is not all-inclusive. Plot The assessment will answer such questions such as: Is there a plot or enough of one to carry the story? Is the story plot driven or character driven? And is there enough conflict to drive the story forward? Most fiction revolves around the story of what happens to characters as they move toward the impending climax. Most conflict is either man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. self, or man vs. society. An assessment will evaluate the plot, conflict, and later climax and resolution for the strengths and weaknesses. If a story climaxes too soon, everything that follows the resolution (especially if the resolution is too long) feels tacked on and unnecessary. If a story climaxes too late and has little time for a satisfying resolution or ends in a cliffhanger, the reader is left unsatisfied and feels cheated. Other factors come into play here as well, such as the reasons for the conflict and the motivations of the characters involved and how they react; whether the conflict is serious enough to affect a change in the characters; do the characters rise to the occasion; is the antagonist a worthy opponent, etc. An assessment will point out those areas that need improvement and those elements that work. Setting Oftentimes setting is called world building. This is because in some stories—such as science fiction, fantasy, and dystopian—the setting is everything. If the world where a story is set in does not make sense or does not address the fundamental questions of how things work, readers may not engage. A book with a great setting is one where the world makes sense within the universe and era and complements the story without taking over. World building is still important even in stories that don’t have complicated settings. The setting is the backdrop of the story. If it doesn’t make sense or fit the characters circumstances, the reader will not feel connected or will fail to identify with it. An assessment will find issues with setting, whether big or small, and offer ways to improve. Pacing Pacing can be used to drive the emotion of the scene for the reader. The quicker the pace, the more exciting the scene.  The pacing of a story is one of the reasons the reader continues to turn the pages instead of putting down the book. If the pacing is too slow or never varies, the reader will get bored. If it’s too fast, the reader may feel lost and fail to connect with the characters. Different genres have different pacing as well. One of my favorite genres is the thriller, typically spy or espionage. One of the reasons I enjoy this genre is because of the fast pace and what feels like non-stop action. I don’t want to put the book down. But I also like historical novels, which tend to move...

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