A Compelling Story Is Not Enough

I started a new book by a new author last night, and while it had a great hook, and the story began with a bang, it is already disappointing. Why? Poor editing. I am so disappointed for this writer. The story is compelling, but the lack of sound editing is ruining it for me.

Here are some of the issues:

  1. Confusing POV – jumps in the middle of the chapter without even a scene break
  2. Left out words
  3. Incorrect use of words – their when it should have been they’re
  4. Overuse of character’s names
  5. Misspelled words
  6. Stale, stiff dialogue

And…I’m just at the end of the second chapter. The book had a nice cover and a blurb that drew me in, but I’m just so frustrated with this author. I can tell he/she didn’t take the time to engage a proper editor for their book.

People…please…don’t ruin your reputation as an author before you even get started. Here are some important tips:

  1. DO NOT EDIT YOUR OWN WORK!!!!!!!!! (Did I emphasize that strongly enough?) I don’t care how good you are with grammar, there are so many other things that are important to a story. I could take an entire blog article on this topic alone.
  2. Don’t hire an editor until you’ve read something they’ve edited. Even if you are contracted by a small publisher, read something that publisher has published. Small presses don’t always have the money to hire editors that are experienced and polished at their craft.
  3. Don’t have a family member or a friend do your editing because they have a degree in English. That doesn’t mean they know all the aspects of the craft of writing.
  4. Check out free lance editors before you engage them. Get recommendations from well known authors with professional reputations.
  5. Watch your POV. This is a controversial subject with a lot of readers. Don’t yank a reader out of one character’s head into another’s without some warning. It can be done successfully, but read how other, well-edited authors accomplish it. Even then some readers still find it annoying. If you’re going to switch POV, master the skill.
  6. Don’t self-publish a work until it has been polished and re-polished. You only get one shot. If you’re first work is crap, you hurt your chances of gaining a reader’s respect. My last article was about the patience to prepare a manuscript properly.  Check it out here.
  7. Read your dialogue aloud. If it sounds stiff and unnatural to you, it will to your readers. Fix it. There are NUMEROUS resources out there on writing dialogue. Do the Research!

Okay…I could go on, but then I wouldn’t have fodder for future articles. I cannot express how sad I am for this author. I’ll continue to read the book, and I’m not about bashing an author in a review for poor editing, but if I can find a way to contact them I will. With just a little more effort and time spent on proper editing, this book could be a super read.  But…a compelling story is not enough.

About Kelly Abell

I am a writer, blogger, and graphic artist. My aim for you is to utilize this blog to help you improve your writing skills, and to educate you on the publishing business. If you need help with writing, want to self-publish a book and need advice, or just want to kick a story idea around to see what works best, that's what I'm here for. As I gain knowledge from editors and publishers, I will share that knowledge with you. As writers we should always strive to improve our craft and grow. A day should not pass where you haven't learned or tried something new with your writing. Many thanks to my Night Owl Friend, Lea Ellen Borg for editing my posts! Best to you and all your characters and stories. Write on, my friends...Write on.
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1 Response to A Compelling Story Is Not Enough

  1. Great advice, Kelly and I know what you mean about some books. I read a similar book a few months back and it was so bad, I thought it should be a “poster child” for what NOT to do when writing – almost as if the author made ridiculous and obvious mistakes on purpose!


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