Tag Archives: nonfiction

Editor: What do they do?

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I had the question in my mind this morning on What does an editor do? I typed that exact phrase into Google and I found this great article explaining that question thoroughly. I’ve written four books at this point and as always someone asks me if I have an editor. I really didn’t understand. I would so, no I’m not getting an editor and then turn around and get someone to professional edit the book. I honestly didn’t think about an editor being the one “who edits my book.” Editors are on the newspaper or magazine staff.

By reading the article below I have found there are many different types of editors and understand things 100% better at this point. Enjoy the article and have a blessed day.

Shirley

Duties of an Editor & How Editors Help Writers

One of the most repeated phrases people use to reach and then search my blog is “What does an editor do?”

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I’m not sure who’s looking for this information. And not knowing the source of the question, I’m not sure how to answer.

Is a high school student looking for an answer to an assignment, maybe wondering about editing as a career?

Is a professional in one career looking to change positions?

Perhaps a writer is wondering what an editor can do for her, maybe looking for clues about how to approach an editor or wondering what her new editor at the publishing house will be responsible for.

So, not knowing exactly what information people are seeking, I’ll present enough to get almost anyone started.

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An editor polishes and refines, he directs the focus of the story or article or movie along a particular course. He cuts out what doesn’t fit, what is nonessential to the purpose of the story. He enhances the major points, drawing attention to places where the audience should focus.

Many fields make use of editors—film, video, magazine, newspaper, blog, and book, both fiction and non-fiction. A task common to all is to ensure that the product they produce is the best it can be in the time available and with the resources available.

A film editor may have weeks to put together his movie, the sound editor about the same. An editor working to develop a non-fiction book may spend a year or more collaborating with the author. A newspaper editor, working either in print or online, may have only minutes or a few hours to check or rework a story.

Because this is chiefly a blog for writers and editors of books, I’m going to restrict the specifics of editing to those editors who refine the written word rather than those who work with film or video or sound.

You’ll see overlap between terms and duties, chiefly because there’s no one definition for editor and no simple explanation of what an editor does.

Newspapers/Magazines

There are several levels of editors at newspapers and magazines.

Editor in chief or editor at-large—Responsible for the type of content produced by their newspapers or magazines, the look of the product, and the nature and number of stories/articles to be written.

Managing editor—Works under the most senior editor. Directs writers to particular stories. May write some of the stories. May be responsible for one section of a newspaper (business or style or local news) or magazine. May write headlines or may delegate that task to others.

Copy editor—Responsible for checking article facts and ensuring that an article matches in-house style guides. Also checks spelling, grammar, and punctuation. May also suggest word changes to keep the newspaper or magazine from being sued. May arrange layout of articles and sidebars. Copy editors might write headlines.

Depending on the size and scope of the publication, a newspaper or magazine editor may perform a combination of the tasks mentioned above. Their job is to see that interesting and/or informative articles are produced in a timely and accurate manner, with no factual errors and few writing errors.

Publishing house

Here again we find several types of editors.

Acquisitions editor—Finds new authors and promotes writers he thinks will be profitable for the publisher. Often must fight to get an author accepted by the publishing house because he’s competing with other editors to bring in new authors. Writers and agents typically submit manuscripts to the acquisitions editor. The acquisitions editor, especially for fiction, may follow a manuscript from submission to publication, suggesting plot-level changes to bring the story in line with his/the publisher’s vision for the product line.

Developmental editor—Helps a writer develop a book from idea or outline or initial draft. Makes sure the book will meet the needs of the publisher and its readers. Will work with the author through any number of drafts. Often works with writers of non-fiction. Guides the writer in topics to be covered in or omitted from the book.

Copy/manuscript editor—(These may be two different positions or one that combines elements of both or the same position called by a different name.) Ensures that the manuscript meets in-house style standards and corrects grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Checks facts and may suggest different words. Verifies headings, statistics, data in graphs, and footnote entries. For fiction, the manuscript editor will check for consistency and logic, and will read with the needs of the audience in mind.

Proofreader—Compares one version of a manuscript against another to eliminate errors from the newest version. The proofreader is the last person to check a manuscript before publication. A proofreader is not an editor in the traditional sense, but because of a crossover between duties, an editor may be the proofreader.

Either the acquisitions or manuscript editor may suggest moving or dropping scenes, dropping or changing characters, changing point of view, or making other major changes to a manuscript.

Freelance editor

A freelance editor works for himself and is hired by a writer to ready his manuscript for publication.

Copy editor—A freelance copy editor may deal primarily with spelling, grammar, punctuation, fact checking, and word choice (in the sense that he makes sure the words mean what the author thinks they mean).

Developmental editor—As detailed above, the developmental editor helps the writer from the idea stage through the final draft. He may suggest topics, help with research, verify facts, and plan the structure of the manuscript. He works through successive drafts with the writer. He’s as concerned with the structure of a manuscript as much as he is the words and meaning.

Substantive editor—Helps a writer improve his fiction manuscript by focusing on story elements, plot, characterization, dialogue, order of scenes, point of view, voice, setting, word choice, sentence construction and syntax, and pace—anything that could improve the strength of the manuscript.

Helps a writer with a non-fiction manuscript by ensuring that sections lead logically from one to another, that there is consistency and flow, and that the right amount of information is presented. Will make sure that conclusions are sound and come from what has been presented.

Substantive editors do not usually work with a writer from the beginning stages, but instead will come to a manuscript after the writer has completed several drafts. Points out weaknesses and suggests options to strengthen those areas. Examines both the big picture and the fine details of a manuscript (including grammar, spelling, and punctuation).

Ghost writer—Shares the writing of a manuscript with an author or writes the entire manuscript based on the author’s suggestions, leading, and research.

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Areas and elements that an editor (specifically a book editor) might look at—

Non-fiction editor

Besides making corrections and suggestions for the technical elements—spelling and punctuation, data and fact verification, footnote and index accuracy and so on—the editor of non-fiction will help a writer organize the manuscript for greatest impact, clarity, and readability. She will check the flow and rhythms of the manuscript. She will ensure that conclusions are sufficiently supported. She’ll look for variety in sentence construction and make suggestions where necessary.

She’ll make sure word choices match the intended audience in terms of knowledge and age appropriateness and suitability. She may suggest sections where an anecdote or other story might be appropriate. She’ll check to see that the style of presentation matches the subject matter. She’ll look for threads to connect chapters and sections so the manuscript reads as a cohesive whole.

Fiction editor

Beyond the technical issues of grammar, punctuation, and spelling, the fiction editor will look at story issues.

She’ll make sure there’s enough plot for the length of the novel or novella. She’ll read for plot inconsistencies or dangling plot threads. She’ll make sure characters are sufficiently different from one another and that they speak with their own voices, show off their own quirks.

She’ll read for pace and logic and the entertainment factor. She’ll suggest word choices that better fit character and genre. She’ll look for balance in setting and dialogue, action and exposition. She’ll check scene transitions and chapter-ending hooks, making sure the reader is engaged by each.

She may suggest a change in point of view or in the viewpoint character. May suggest a change in verb tense—past to present or present to past. She will note where the author’s opinions and/or prejudices have gotten in the way of the fiction.

She’ll point out saidisms, overuse of modifiers, and fuzzy passages. The fiction editor will make sure the writer has given characters sufficient motivation. She’ll check scenes for sense elements and conflict. She’ll help the writer put the protagonist into tough situations and then turn up the heat.

She’ll root out clichés.

The fiction editor will make sure the resolution fulfills the promise of the story opening, that it’s satisfying and inevitable.

Both the fiction editor and the editor of non-fiction bring that outsider’s eye to a manuscript. They notice when and where elements don’t fit. They see that something’s missing.

And they know what to do to fix the lapses.

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~ Editors bring to a manuscript the polish and knowledge and skills that a writer might not have, might not know how to use, or might not see the need for in his own work.

~ An editor makes sure the writer’s work says what the writer intends and says it in the writer’s voice and with his sensibilities.

~ An editor’s job is to make a story, article, or manuscript better. Better in terms of clarity, enjoyment, logic, flow, and meaning. Better in terms of meeting the needs of the audience.

~ An editor serves the project, the author, and the reader.

~ An editor balances the writer’s desires with the publisher’s standards and the reader’s expectations—and finds a way to produce a story to satisfy all three.

~ Editors read. They write. They love words and the millions of stories that can be crafted from them. They assemble parts of a manuscript as if they were puzzle pieces, putting them together to make a fascinating and appealing picture, a picture that readers will want to explore in depth.

~ They are typically picky, sticklers for what they believe is right, opinionated, and determined. They often have a great eye for detail, a strong vocabulary, and knowledge of odd grammar rules.

~ They enjoy working with—and playing with—words.

~ Editors are enhancers. They work to make what is good better, what is great, outstanding. They challenge writers. They challenge themselves.

by Beth Hill

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Help (100 Word Flash NonFiction)

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Hello all, I hope all of you who celebrated Labor Day had a great weekend. Today I am sharing a 100 word flash fiction that won me an overall best award. I will be putting it in my book, Shirley’s Shorts and Flashes. I hope you enjoy it. It is a story from my long ago past. That cowboy and I had a good time.

Help

Linda should be here at any time. I told her I’d wait at the bar.

“Little lady, let me buy you a drink?”

“No, thank you. I’m waiting on my girlfriend.” This guy is drunk and it’s barely 10:00 pm. I scoot down a stool, so I don’t have to be next to him. He moves also.

A cowboy watches, and I mouth “Help.” He walks up, my arms go around his neck, I call him honey. I kiss him and say, “I wasn’t expecting you”.

“I wasn’t expecting you, either. Let’s dance.”

I Found It

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Today, I’m going back to story telling. This is a short story from my book Shirley’s Shorts and Flashes. I’ve decided to ebook publish on Amazon. I may put it in book form at a later time, just because I like to hold books. There is something about the smell of a book that you can’t get from a Kindle.  I hope you enjoy this nonfiction story.  Have a blessed day.

 

I Found It

 

The day I found it, I knew beyond any doubt, He was real. That profound piece of knowledge was shown to me repeatedly through my life.

I am a mother of two children, now grown. I’ve been an RN for thirty-two years. Before I became a nurse, I spent years trying to survive and take care of my two young children as a single mom. I lived on food stamps and in public housing, and I hated every minute of it.

I’d always wanted to be a nurse and in fact started college right out of high school. I decided at that point I wanted my man, and put love above my education. I was married to my children’s father for nine years. He decided he wanted to play. I’m a selfish woman, I don’t share well. My marriage ended.

I lived in Vernon, Texas when my marriage ended. My parents lived in Oklahoma. Everything about my world crumbled around me. I didn’t have a job, I had two small children, and I was an emotional wreck. I wasn’t dealing with my failed marriage well. I had my children wanting their father, and my family telling me the children needed their daddy. I actually swallowed my pride and asked my husband to move back home. I met him at the door, when he moved back. He gave me a kiss and I knew with that kiss something was missing. His being home lasted four days. He couldn’t stay away from his play toy. There was too much pain to handle. I packed up and moved back home to McAlester.

The subsidized housing we lived in was not bad, but the neighborhood could get rough. At that point, in time, which was in the mid 1970’s I, felt as if I were the only caucasian in the complex. My apartment was broken into a couple of times and once I made the mistake of leaving my month’s food stamps on the end table. They disappeared.

I rejoiced when I received a five-dollar increase in my welfare check. Every five dollars in my pocket helped. The rejoicing didn’t last long. The housing authority raised my rent by six dollars a month. It was a losing battle. There was no way to win.

We never had enough money to buy the non-food items we needed, such as laundry soap, toilet paper, and dishwashing soap. Times got so bad, my children would go to a service station and steal toilet paper for us to use.

Towards the end of the month, we would run out of food. Weekends and summer were the hardest, because the kids didn’t get their breakfast and lunch at school. I was blessed enough to have a mom and dad who let me and the kids come to their house for supper when we needed to. I felt like a failure from beginning to end. I couldn’t do anything right. I was supposed to have stayed married, and raised my kids with both a mother and a father. Instead, I felt like a moocher, even though I know they didn’t feel that way. The guilt I felt was eating me up.

I finally got enough of my mind back that I decided to go back to college and fulfill my dream of becoming a nurse. I couldn’t continue to let my children live the way they were living. My mom was so supportive. She encouraged me every chance she got. She wanted me to get the education she’d always wanted for me. I had to be able to take care of my children and myself.

My uncle teased me about not needing an education, because I now had two diplomas, Allan and Stephanie. He’d tried to talk me out of quitting school to marry my kids father, but of course being young and in love I didn’t listen.

Using Pell Grants, I moved to Wilburton and began college at Eastern Oklahoma State College. I made application to their nursing program and was accepted. The two-year program, which I took three to complete, was tough. I took all of my prerequisites one year and did nursing the next two years.

The kids and I lived in a two-bedroom house trailer on campus for the first year. I had a car but didn’t drive much except to go back home to see mom and dad. Mom would usually give me money for the gasoline. The problem of living in Wilburton and being in school, I no longer qualified for food stamps, because I received too much money from the Pell Grant.

We still had to eat and pay bills, so I took a part time job at a local nursing home working as an aide. Since my family owned nursing homes, I was well qualified. I’d done everything from cooking in the kitchen to the laundry room. The down side to the job, it didn’t pay much more than minimum wage, and I had to pay for day care. It didn’t leave me much money. I worked whenever I could.

Through God’s grace, we made it through the first year. Due to almost freezing to death in that trailer, I found a walk-up apartment I could afford to rent. The kids’ day care was down the road from us about a block, and I could drop them off on my way to class without having to drive out of my way.

My second year of nursing school was the toughest. I couldn’t work many hours because of my clinical schedule for school. It got to the point one time when there wasn’t even milk for the kids in the refrigerator. I had nothing. I cried and I prayed and cried some more. I’d finally cried all the tears I could and I needed comfort.

Something made me pick up my Bible and I began reading in my favorite book of Isaiah. I felt comforted, as I always did. After my divorce, I slept with the Bible close to me. God was my comfort and my strength. When I turned, the page, what I saw astounded me. I began crying all over again, except this time with joy.

Stuck inside my Bible was a crisp, new ten-dollar bill. I didn’t put it there, which made it a miracle for me. It would let me buy food until my payday from work rolled around in a couple of days. I fell on my knees and began praising God. I knew then I didn’t have anything to worry about because He was with me. You know what, He still is. I worry very little because I know God has my back. I have failed him many times, but He has never failed me.

Times remained hard while I was in school, but I received my nursing license and my world turned around. I know I made it through with God’s help and the help of my family.

 

 

Nagging Voice

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For the past several days I’ve had this nagging voice in my head telling me to write a story. I push it away and it returns a short time later. I woke up this morning thinking about it, one more time. I am beginning to think someone is trying to tell me something. Have any of you ever had a head voice nagging you about something? If so what did you do? Did you continue to push it away or finally give into it and do what it was telling you to do.

Today, I am going to write that short story called The Red Shoes and post it on my website shirley-mclain.com. I’m going to stop that little nagging voice. It is a non-fiction story dealing with the trauma of alcoholism.

I think dealing with any issue in your life is better than pushing it aside time after time. My little voice may only be talking about writing a story, but even if it was pushing me to something outside my comfort zone, I think I would follow my voice. Of course, if your voice is telling you something you know is wrong or could hurt someone then that is a totally different thing.

Bottom line is deal with whatever your inner voice is saying to you. I truly believe there is a reason we have that little voice inside of us prompting us to do what needs to be done.

“My Daddy”

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Drinking Man

My life with my Dad is/was complicated. I love him, and I now know he loves me.  It’s not always been so. I was fifty years old the first time I heard daddy tell me he loved me.  It was if he had gone through his life not being able to get the words to come out of his mouth.  I think it is amazing how important those words are to a daughter.  I went through half of my life not knowing if daddy loved me or not.  Now, he is never the first to say it, but I always hear it, “love you too.”
My dad fought his demons.  The alcohol ruled his life from the time I was a child until I was almost fifty years old.  There were casualties from the fight.  For many years I was one of them.  As a small child my memories of my dad was his drinking, going fishing and watching the Friday night fights.  When I reached my teen years, I hated my father.  I couldn’t bring friends home with me, because I didn’t know if he would kiss them or cuss them.
He taught me how to manipulate him, so I could get what I wanted. I learned just the right time to ask for something.  He went through all the known stages of
drinking alcohol, from quiet to downright mean.  By the time he reached the mean stage I would try to disappear.  It didn’t always work because he would set me
up for a fight.  It was strange, but that is how I learned to love books.  I could
disappear into one of them.
There was so much verbal and physical abuse, around me. He and mom would get into an augment which intensified into a physical fight all too often.  I am surprised they let each other live to make it to sixty years of living together.
Through Gods grace I was able to forgive my dad.  I now see him as a kind loving father who now appreciates his family, and what he has.  I still remember the pain, but it doesn’t affect me like it did.
Daddy doesn’t remember the life we had or the pain he caused. He remembers the good things about his life and not the bad.  At his age it is alright, he doesn’t need to remember. He enjoys his daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
His world revolves around his family now, not the bottle.
The video I have posted below is called : Alcohol: Poison for body and mind. It is very interesting to listen to.  Please take the time to listen.  We can’t have enough education concerning alcoholism.
ttp://youtu.be/-rsBMyFqCl8
That’s my two-cents for the day.