The Editor’s Alphabet

A = advance the plot. (Editor’s sentence: Does this scene advance the plot?)

B = butt in the chair. (Editor’s sentence: That novel won’t get written until you quit procrastinating and put your butt in the chair.)

C = Chekhov’s Gun, Principle of. (Editor’s sentence: You never told us what happened to the giraffe. That’s a violation of the Principle of Chekhov’s Gun.)

D = double spacing after a period. (Editor’s sentence: Will you stop double spacing after a period, already?)

E = editor. (Editor’s sentence: Anyone who writes anything needs an editor. No buts about it.)

F = first draft. (Editor’s sentence: Don’t send me your first draft. Ever. Have a nice day!)

G = gatekeepers. (Editor’s sentence: I’ve heard enough rants about gatekeepers. If you want to get published, write me a good story in an interesting voice using nice prose. That is all.)

H = haiku. (Editor’s sentence: Dear author know this— / all that hyperbole makes / cranky editor.)

I = imagery. (Editor’s sentence: Be careful that your search for nice imagery doesn’t turn up purple prose instead.)

J = just keep writing. (Editor’s sentence: The best way to improve is practice. Just keep writing—it’ll come.)

K = kill your darlings. (Editor’s sentence: You will have matured as a writer when you are finally able to kill your darlings for the sake of the work.)

L = little details count. (Editor’s sentence: When crafting your characters, little details count.)

M = marketing copy. (Editor’s sentence: That blurb with the teaser sentence at the end is marketing copy, not a synopsis. Please try again.)

N = novel. (Editor’s sentence: Writing a novel is harder than you think, kids. If you thought it was going to be easy, perhaps you should find another hobby.)

O = overwriting. (Editor’s sentence: Overwriting generally means too much/many: adverbs, adjectives, unusual words, intensity. Tone it down.)

P = purple prose. (Editor’s sentence: All this flowery, fancy, elaborate, overly sentimental purple prose is drawing attention to itself. Relax, you’re trying too hard.)

Q = quote. (Editor’s sentence: No, Abraham Lincoln did not utter that clever quote.)

R = research. (Editor’s sentence: Do your research. No, 1400s-era peasants didn’t own books. They didn’t read, for heaven’s sake!)

S = show, don’t tell. (Editor’s sentence: Don’t interpret everything for the reader. Show, don’t tell.)

T = too many words. (Editor’s sentence: Probably the number one mistake of beginning authors is writing too many words.)

U = use all your senses. (Editor’s sentence: Use all your senses when you’re writing that scene.)

V = voice. (Editor’s sentence: Voice can be chatty, lyrical, brusque … Keep writing. Your voice will probably reveal itself to you.)

W = Word, Microsoft. (Editor’s sentence: Microsoft Word is the publishing industry standard. Please learn how to use it.)

X = X marks the spot. (Editor’s sentence: Need some help with your writing? Here are some useful links.)

Y = YA. (Editor’s sentence: A recent trend in publishing is authors previously noted for their adult fiction crossing over to YA, like Jodi Picoult, Nick Hornby, Meg Wolitzer, Harlan Coben, John Grisham, and Candace Bushnell. Candace Bushnell? Whoa.)

Z = zero. (Editor’s sentence: How many words have you written today?)

Tweet: A is for Advance the Plot. E … is for Editor.
Tweet: You never told us what happened to the giraffe. An Editor’s Alphabet.
Tweet: H is for Haiku. Dear author know this / all that hyperbole makes / cranky editor.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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  1. I. Love. This. You know I do! :)

  2. Michelle Ule says:

    I thought we agreed on something else for U . . . .