There was a time when I used to read books and never notice a mistake. Now, that could have been because I didn’t notice them like I do now. The longer I write, the more mistakes glare at me in anything I’m reading. But it feels as if books are rushed more these days, and more mistakes sneak through.
It’s easy to miss small mistakes. We read over them. Our head fills in what should be there, or we’ve rewritten a scene so many times, we can’t tell if it’s good or not. Hopefully, our beta readers catch them. Or our editor. Or copy editor. But not always.
I notice small mistakes in books I read, but it’s the bigger ones that make me wonder. Where was the editor?
I recently read a book that was written in third person, but every once in a while, for no reason, the story switched to first person. Not internal dialogue. That, I like it. Just the wrong POV. It was annoying. I’m assuming the author wrote the book in first person, and then decided to make it third person, but she didn’t catch everything. Neither did her copy editor. Not sure why. It seemed pretty obvious to me.
I’ve gotten used to a typo here, a missing word there. But the wrong verb tense? A name that switches halfway through the story? A subplot that just disappears, never to return? It’s easy to do all of those things as a writer. You realize you have three characters’ names that start with J and decide to change two of them to something else, but you miss a few of them, and the old name still drifts through the story. An easy mistake to make. That’s when you rely on your copy editor. Or, I read a mystery/romance where the ghost of a Roman centurion gave mysterious clues to the protagonist, and if she helped him find where the bodies of his fellow soldiers were buried in England, he could find peace…but he never got it, because the author forgot the entire subplot when she got hot and bothered with the story’s romance. An editor could have fixed that.
I think today, poor editors are so pressured, they don’t have the time to spend on projects that they once did. That’s why writers have to find really good critique partners. We should make our stories as perfect as we can BEFORE we send them off into the cold, cruel word. I have topnotch partners. I hope you do, too.
And now, on a completely different, more frivolous note, since I’m talking about our actual writing and how it’s edited, I’m curious what you think about using contractions in your stories. I love them. I think they make a story feel more real, more like what people would really say. I even think they make narration or exposition flow better. I’ve read writers (including one of my favorites) who never use contractions. They always use “she would” instead of “she’d”. And I can skim over that most of the time, but then it catches up with me and stops me cold. It sounds too formal. It slows me down until I force my brain to squash the words into contractions. And then I do better.
What do you think? Contractions or not?
Also, (and this is the time for a shameless plug), my 6th and last Mill Pond romance is now availabe for free on NetGalley for reviewers and bloggers. If you’re interested, just hit this button.
The Fall Solstice has come and gone. Hope you have a wonderful Fall, and happy writing! Also, if anyone has any questions they’d like me to answer, (if I can), let me know!
My webpage: (I started a new, free story. A new chapter will go up each week): http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/
My Author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel
Also, if you’re interested, Marcella Burdette sent me a site with lots of links for writers: http://www.supersummary.com/fiction-writing-guide/