I know a few editors and they seem like okay people...that is, until I got to know them better. THAT's when I realized that editors, as a whole (oh, yeah, I'm lumping them all in there together) really don't like much of anything. Okay, maybe that's not entirely true. I do believe they ALL love well written prose and perfectly manicured manuscripts--but come on! How many of those even exist? Seriously. That's just unrealistic and quite unfair to us little guys who THINK we're doing a pretty good job at this writing gig. But I guess that is the job of the editor--to hate (the whole bunch of haters). Oh, and editors love booze (yep, all of them. There I go again, lumping them together). So booze and perfectly manicured manuscripts. That's about it.
Seriously, take a look at this:
That is a screen shot of edits I received from one of my editors (Melissa Sawatsky, I love you--you hater). The blue marks are her suggestions. The black marks (can you even see any black marks?) happen to be my original prose. Now here's the thing, she takes my detailed paragraph and witty words and chops them down into one or two sentences that say the exact same thing, but with less words. In the margins she will write WORDINESS. What the....? HELLO? I'm a author, I write with WORDS. Lots of them. I love words. I'm a lover not a hater. But editors? Nope, they're not lovers at all. I can't even imagine it being so (yuck). I mean, look at this:
How is that love? I'm totally not feeling it. I don't feel love at all. In fact, I fell the exact opposite of love. (She would take these last four sentence of my blog and do this: That is not love. That is the exact opposite of love.) I know her. *I'm biting my lip right now*.
So here is a list of things editors hate (what I've seen first hand and what I've been told):
1) The word "I" in a first person POV story. Two many "I's" close together and WHACK! You will get your ego slapped. So how in the heck do you write in first person and not use I so much? Good question. Rule: try and make the object of the sentence the subject. This is what I've been told. I still don't execute it very well. Here's an article for you from editor Lane Diamond that explains it a tad better: The Problem with First-Person Narrative--Beware the I-Bombs
2) Narrative that breaks up action. They will delete it, toss it out, and then tell you to knock it off.
3) Puppies. I'm pretty sure they hate all kinds of baby animals.
4) Excessive use of dialogue tags, (said, asked, demanded, spoke, explained). They HATE those. So use them sparingly or your editor will grow horns and beat you with a pitch fork. No joke.
5) State of being verbs, otherwise known as SOB verbs (makes me laugh every time I type SOB). SOB verbs like am, is, was, are--editors will kill you. Maybe not literally, but you will feel like you've died a little inside when they get through with you. (Check out another article about this very thing by Lane Diamond. Those SOB verb are #$%&#$ ).
6) Show don't tell. That's a given. But sometimes, as a writer, it's hard to recognize when you're doing it. But boy...the angry eyes your editor will give you when you make the mistake of telling *shivers*
7) Monotonous sentence structure (Eric Pinder hates this). Whether it's long sentences or short sentences. They'll make you mix it up. They will chop and they will add (all suggestions, of course. But those suggestions will be AWESOME. Darn them).
8) One editor I know foams at the mouth when you use the word "titter". So don't do that. Foaming at the mouth is a bad thing. Not good (right Stevie Mikayne?). And forget using the word "suddenly." You will get a backhanded slap for that one (I never use that word because I'm not a fan of pain. I learned my lesson).
9) Words. They hate words. "Simplify it stupid." Okay, they don't say that, but when you see how they took your mega long paragraph and shortened it into two sentences that pretty much said the same thing, it's what you'll be thinking. Editors are subtle that way.
10) NaNoWriMo. Editors HATE November's National Novel Writing Month. But since editors hate everything, their opinion on this matter isn't a valid enough reason not to participate if you wanna (Lane Diamond is gonna kill me for saying that).
11) "Blinking with her eyes" or "Pointed with her finger" or "Nodded with her head" OHHHHHH, they HATE that! (Megan Harris REALLY doesn't like this). What else are they going to blink with, their ears? Editors think they're funny when they say this, but they're not. Editors aren't funny people. Not really. But they know how to make people cry really well.
12) And unicorns. They hate unicorns. Or anything else magical for that matter. Of this, I'm pretty sure.
In all seriousness, though, I wouldn't give up ANY of my editors. They may be haters, but I know it's all for my benefit. They might not like the way in which I wrote something, and they might not like my excessive use of words, but they LOVE me! (Oh, yes you do! Admit it Lane, Melissa, and Megan...you adore me). Because they love me, they want me to present the best work I can so that I can succeed. THAT'S what a great editor does.
My editors are truly amazing people. They sacrifice and work so hard on my behalf and for that I am ever so grateful. They help me to write in the way I had always hoped to write. I've learned more about the art of writing from these three people than from any teacher, professor, or writing instructor. And even though I'm a slow learner, they hang in there and encourage me onward.
If you find the right editor, you will totally feel the same. I guarantee it.
So what else do editors hate? Love your editor? Need to find one? What's your experience with editors like? Do tell.