Friday, February 15, 2013

Common Foibles I

Last week Valerie Mann and Kate Richards found themselves at a conference on the East Coast. How did they find themselves you may ask? Were they lost? Why no they weren’t. They arrived there in quite normal ways and were not surprised at all to be there. So I suppose they didn’t find themselves at all.
When several editors attend a conference, they usually end up in a corner talking shop. What’s new in the business? What type of books have we seen doing well? What are various houses looking for?
And the five million dollar question…what errors seem to be trending in the manuscripts we edit. We don’t name names or discuss specific books. We use words like adverb, repetition, and in this case “chuckle.” Several editors agreed that we are seeing an excess of chuckling as well as smiling, laughing, grinning and giggling. To me, this means these need to be on an author’s list of words to check for. There are many ways to express positive emotions besides outright laughter. In fact, many of them are preferable.
Show the reader (I say this a lot) the character’s body language. In her POV, Molly the heroine is not likely to be aware she’s laughing or smiling and probably wouldn’t think to tell us anyway. When do you think to yourself, I’m smiling? But you might say, What a lovely box of chocolates. He remembered I only like dark. That description tells the reader Molly likes the gift and her hero is a rare man who pays attention to her woman’s likes and dislikes. The reader’s admiration soars! Her own husband still thinks she wants an iron for Valentine’s Day. And we know she’s smiling. Who wouldn’t be?
Lance, her hero, the giver of such wonderful gifts is also happy. Next time we will talk about how to show his emotions from Molly's POV
Have a great weekend!

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