I’ve read a lot of manuscript excerpts lately. My daughter has an editing web page at CritiqueMyNovel.com http://critiquemynovel.com and I do proofreading for her. I took part in her first web contest for unpublished manuscripts. I was one of four judges that read all the submissions and scored them according to flow and logic, plot and premise, character developement, overall entertainment/enjoyment and more. It was a couple of interesting months. I read a lot of very interesting stories and some I wouldn’t want to read. I read genres I wouldn’t usually read and found enjoyment in most of them. There are many talented people out there who are striving to write good fiction. I learned a lot as I read. I learned that I dislike what I call propaganda novels. They are novels that are used to promote a political or social idea. For instance, a story with a gay vampire as one of the main characters. Vampires are in vogue after all, so let’s make one of them gay to be politically correct.
But what I discovered was I really hate wasting talent. Some authors can write a good phrase, make the flow pull you along inside the story, and choose to toss in explicit sex, presumably to add something of interest for everyone. I guess I am revealing my age. I prefer not to be a sexual voyeur and would never pay money to read anything I’d be ashamed to tell my Priest or my mother I was reading. My other pet peeve is reading something so full of profanity it makes you tired to read it. I once was given a book to try. When I found it so full of explicit sex and profanity, I tore it up and threw it away. My daughter wondered why I didn’t just give it to someone. Who would I give it to? I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I think a good writer should be able to express anger or aggressiveness without dialogue where every other word is a vulgarity. There are many descriptive words to express emotions, but perhaps it is easier to use profanity and sprinkle in numerous f bombs for effect. Since there does seem to be a large market for smut and erotica, many will continue to write it.
The most common mistake I found was that most used editing software to proofread their work and they needed someone who does proofreading, editing and critiques by hand. This means, someone who will actually print off your manuscript, hold it in their hands and read it to catch the context mistakes such as ware instead of where. There is nothing more frustrating than to read a novel full of typos, extra or repeated words and phrases, and blatant punctuation mistakes. If you are a writer, remember that it is very difficult to proofread your own work. It is too easy to skim what you are familiar with. You need fresh eyes to notice all of the mistakes.
All in all, I enjoyed my voyage into the unknown. I read historical, urban, modern, fantasy, sci-fi and more. I found many styles and voices and learned something from each. I look forward to next years contest as well as continuing my proofreading of new manuscripts. See you around.
- Why eBooks have so many mistakes and so many formatting errors (ireaderreview.com)
- The Difference between Editing, Proofreading, or Revising (selfpubauthors.com)
- Guest Post: Editing for Self-Publishers by John C. Goodman (selfpubauthors.com)
- Using Readers as Unpaid Proofreaders (joannegphillips.wordpress.com)