Non Grammar Divas Unite! (part deux)

This blog is the second part of a blog on editing, responding to editor’s comments, and why everyone deserves an editor. See part one HERE on Jessica Aspen Writes. I have another disclaimer before I start. (To read my disclaimers hope back to Monday’s blog.)

I love my editors. I hope by writing this and letting them know that I sometimes disagree, they still know that I respect their opinions. And that this blog in no way is because of any recent edits. I wrote it a while back and it’s been waiting for a gap in my blogging schedule. That they (my fabulous editors) are the reason my spicy-hot paranormal romances are placing in contests and winning rave reviews. Thank you, to all my editors!

Hello again. I’m on a rant, an editorial rant. Editing your own manuscript is hard, that’s why we hire editors (or our publisher hires editors) to help us fix our mistakes that we can’t even see. But what do you do when you are reading your edits and you disagree? Can you make changes? After all, they are the editors. They are the people who know what’s what. The professionals.

Well the answer is yes. Qualitatively, yes.

You do have the right to say, no. That you feel that this style of writing is your voice and that you want to keep the repetetive use of that or these or green. Whatever it is. You can say that. But there is a time and a way to do it. And there are times when you should just stay quiet, bite the pencil, and keep their edits.

When do you do you argue with your editor and when do you roll over and take the edits? Well, it depends.

First off it does make a difference if you are working with a publishing house or you are indie published. Let’s take the traditionally published author first. You signed a contract that handed over temporary rights to your work. And it usually says that you are required to work with the house editor and fix what they want fixed. So you should do all the changes, right?


You should do most of them. If the house uses the serial comma, and you hate the serial comma, too bad. It’s the house’s rules and just like when you walk into a casino you should either know the rules in advance or be prepared to abide by them if you don’t. Let’s face it. You decided to sign that contract. You’ve already taken the gamble, now trust in your editor and do what she says.

So when do you stand firm? When do you say, no?

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and EB WhiteWhen it is something that really upsets you. Something that if it isn’t done your way, then you feel like your voice won’t be heard. Something that is intrinsic to you as an author. Those changes are worth fighting for. And there should be damn few of them. As the classic grammar book The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and EB White says about the word very:

“Use this word sparingly. Where emphasis is necessary, use words strong in themselves.”

Wield the power of No sparingly. Make it count when you use it. Your writing will be stronger because your editor will help you, but you will also keep it strong by holding true to your voice when you fight for those things that sound like you, feel like you, are definitely only written by you.

And how do you tell you editor? Do you call her up and rant and rave? Do you send angry emails with excessive exclamation points?

No. You calmly and concisely tell her why you need the change. After you’ve looked it up in at least one grammar book. Or checked it online with where it auto checks your errors. Or you email your Margie Lawson critique partner and she has verified your use of one of the rhetorical devices.

Then, and only then, do you ask to do it your way. She may say yes, she may say no. But if she says no then she will usually give you a good reason and you will walk away with your working relationship intact.

Now what if you are indie published. You hired this editor. He may never see the manuscript again, may never know or care if you make the changes. Will happily take your money and give his opinion even if you never make any of the changes to any of the manuscripts you send. What do you do then? It’s your final say. You are the final editor of your own book.

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

(I believe this one is from Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben in Spiderman.)

Wolf Spider under glass

You are the one with the final say, but you also spent time researching this editor and trusted him enough to not only pay him big bucks, but to send him your baby. Trust him. Do as he says. Unless…

Unless it is going to change your voice, change your story, or change anything that will make you wish you’d never published. IN that case. Think twice. Consult the grammar gurus. And don’t make the changes. But be aware! You may face ridicule in the reviews if you choose unwisely.

So choose wisely and make the changes that are necessary to create the best book possible. Whether you work with a publishing house or a freelance editor remember they are wise individuals who know more than you do. But in the end it is your name on the cover.

How do you tell someone you are unhappy with their work? Do you? Do you take the time to cool down and maybe see that they might have a point? Or do you send off that rip-roaring email and destroy relationships?


Filed under Writer's Journey, writing craft

6 responses to “Non Grammar Divas Unite! (part deux)

  1. Very, very, very good and awesome and informative post on this oh-so-very important topic, Jessica. 😉

    I agree. Pick your battles. If an editor attempts to impose his/her voice on your work, fight back. If it’s a minor grammar preference, go with the house rules.

    I also found contests and critiques helpful. If one judge or crit partner commented on a sentence of scene? Author preference rules. If I hear that advice repeatedly from multiple sources? Time to take a look at (and apply) the advice.

    Sentence frags? Overused. Frequently. Attempting to change. Really.

    • Sure, sure. You’ll change when you’re ready. I realized that all the Margieisms can be over used and I tend to get focused on one and use it until it is dead, killed, deceased. And then they lose their power. But sometimes it takes someone else to see that for you. 🙂

      And I totally agree on the contests. One person, eh, forget about it. Two or three, time to listen!

  2. Gloria’s got it right. I am pretty excited to see you using French in your title. Are you thinking that will charm all of us bilingual Canadians? Perhaps I should be using my rusty French? Good post, Jessica.

    • My French is very rusty. When I met Carole I wished I could speak any of it, but I knew between my mixing up Spanish and French and my deplorable American accent that I was better off not even trying. But I can slide it into blogging! 🙂

  3. Great post, Jessica. I’ll have to remember all that if I ever get an editor. 😉

  4. Pingback: Oh the Joy of Editing Your Novel | Glass Highway | Steven Ramirez

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