Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What authors need from editors

In education, teachers write objectives to guide their lessons. These have to be measurable so that the teacher will know if the kid reached it or not. When I first started in the profession 33 years ago, they were all written with the starting words: "Students will be able to..." Eventually most of us reduced that to SWBAT...

But a few years back I learned another way of writing objectives and it made a whole lot more sense to me. Called by the unfortunate name KUD (we educators like our abbreviations nearly as much as the military!), the three letters stand for Know, Understand and Do. What do you want the kids to know about the subject, understand about the concepts and do with the material?

I got to thinking today about editors and what I wanted from anyone I might hire to edit my work. The KUD came to mind and so, I give you the following:

What I want my editor to KNOW:
  • Proper grammar and modern punctuation rules
  • The conventions of story - and when they can be broken
What I want my editor to UNDERSTAND:
  • Dialect. Different geographical areas have different patterns of speech. So do different social classes.
  • My impatience. At the point where the editor is getting my manuscript, my destination is publication and I want to get there yesterday.
  • That egos are sensitive. Be strict but not mean.
What I want my editor to DO:
  • Check for consistency (physical traits as well as personality quirks)
  • Check the timeline for any mix-ups. I'm not talking historical accuracy, although that would be nice. I'm talking the timeline of the story. Make sure I didn't skip days or jump seasons.
  • Identify any plot holes. All plot holes, no matter the size. I want to know where they are.
  • Identify character and story arcs and note if the story veers from them.
  • I have very good grammar and typing skills. Occasionally, however, I do make errors. Don't yell at me. Just fix them.

This is a work-in-progress. Please help me and add more to the comments below. What do writers need their editors to Know, Understand and Do? And yes, editors, feel free to add what you'd like to see from authors!


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