Friday, September 16, 2011


Over the weekend I got an e-mail from a copy editor at Barbour Publishing, which bought my novella, "New Garden Crossroads" earlier this year.


I dreaded opening the file for fear my precious story was bleeding red ink. I thought my story was perfect in every way when I sent it out. But I knew this was coming.

Not as bad as I feared, at all. She found no gaping holes in the plot. For that I have to thank my newspaper editors who would often quiz me on deadline about missing pieces of the story. Since I hated to have to call sources back at the last minute, I tried to cover all the bases in the stories that I turned in.

There were also tweaks to make my story fit Barbour's own style.

She suggested changes to sentence structures to use more active verbs. Those often helped tighten up the writing, a good thing.

Finally and most instructive, she made comments on points of view and times when I veered off into the "story teller's voice" which distanced the reader from the character. I did not realize when I wandered into those glitches. But since she pointed them out I had some "Ah-ha!" moments. For instance, at one point I said all the characters were surprised by one's comment. The editor said that the POV character could not know what the others were feelings. The POV character also could not know what the others could see out a window, for instance.

So this was a good lesson for me. I hope to apply what I learned to other work.

Hope everyone who is going to conference has a great time!

I will be back after work in case anyone has good stuff to share about copy-editing. I would love to hear more about the process.


  1. Thanks, Ann, for sharing this. Very interesting.


  2. Ann, one of the most important things I ever learned about POV was to write from the viewpoint of the character who has the most to lose. A personal pet peeve? When a character tucks a piece of hair behind their ear and you're in their POV and yet it mentions the hair color. It's a way to convey to the reader what the hair color is, but it's not true to the character's POV. In any case, big congrats on the sale to Barbour! That's wonderful! Blessings.