I’m doing a considerable amount of editing at the moment – as part of my role as a university lecturer in creative writing, my own work naturally and in my role as editor with Bridge House Publishing. I’m also member of a couple of critique groups. So, I’m constantly playing with words. What a world to work in!
What do I notice when I edit?
One of the biggest problems is lack of tension in the plot. Often the resolution comes too easily. It’s a problem I find in my own work. How exactly do we get rid of the Deus ex Machina?
Telling instead of showing is also common, especially amongst less experienced writers.
Perhaps the third most common problem is shifting point of view. Yes, the omniscient author is coming back into fashion, but it has to be proactively that and not an assortment of misaligned mistakes. What is a little alarming about this category is that I see it also in published works, which have presumably gone through an editorial process. I’m not talking just self-published or small press either. I see it in works produced by the big boys.
An irritating problem amongst less experienced writing is incorrect formatting, especially in direct speech.
Then there is the odd miracle, the odd piece of writing which really grabs me and switches off that chuntering left-brained inner critic. I become absorbed in the story and the sheer brilliance of the writing. Bring them on!