How Not to Throw a Mess Over the Transom; or, Who Cares More, You or Your Editor?

the-best-part-of-waking-upMy finger hovered over the mouse button, ready to click “Send” and turn That She is Made of Truth over to Tom for editing.

But wait; there’s more!

Rather than tossing a soiled manuscript over the transom and letting Tom wipe it down before he even begins work, why not tidy it up myself, and let him spend his time doing what he does best?

I always run my manuscripts through AutoCrit before asking anyone else to work with them. It’s the least I can do (and sometimes, the least is exactly what I do.)

AutoCrit is an automated online self-editing tool. It’s no replacement for the sharp eye and incisive mind of a human editor. Instead, its reports on pacing, needless repetition, most-used and overused words, all nudge the writer toward tidiness.

I am verbose. I have favorite phrases and words. But “stuff” does not need to appear in That She is Made of Truth 38 times. I should not begin 48 sentences with “But” and another 36 with “And” nor should “really” and “probably” appear over 100 times between them.

Another set of eyes keeps us honest. It gives us the gun to kill our darlings.

It gives me a checklist so I can, as dispassionately as a writer is able, cut the fluff and trim the fat, so Tom has more time for deep thoughts (he’s a regular Jack Handy) and the final result is a better book than if I’d lazily left it to someone else to care most about my art.

10 thoughts on “How Not to Throw a Mess Over the Transom; or, Who Cares More, You or Your Editor?

  1. Agreed! Love Autocrit. Since using it I am able to write cleaner/tidier right out of the gate with fewer edits later because Autocrit showed me how to look for those overused or “-ly” adverbs I love and scrap them early on. Once I finish scrubbing my current WIP through the StoryGrid, it goes through Autocrit next.

  2. Oooh, a soiled manuscript. That does conjure, doesn’t it, conjurer? I must say that if I saw that face in my coffee cup, I might turn to orange juice.

    I’ve never run my stuff through AutoCrit, but I’m going to do it with a book that I’ve dithered and divagated over for a good four years now. Maybe if I can take all the “buts” out of it, it will be cleansed. (And man, I use “stuff” a bunch too. My books are stuffed with stuffs.)

    Thanks for the faith in me Joel; hope to renew that through the pages of “That She Is.”

  3. My latest round of AutoCrit reports were very different from my first use a few years ago.

    Like many editing tools (and editors) it’s nudging me toward better writing in the first place.

  4. I dithered meself a bit about dropping you in it, but the black hole in the cup cried out to be filled.

    AutoCrit, more than “doing the work” is a “make me think” kind of tool. One of the reasons I like it.

  5. Ooh, I need me one of them Tom Bently drinks! I’ll bet he’s tasty.

    And by that I mean to send him my manuscript too, because I know he’s a word lover.

    I was going to say that I need him to clean all my ‘buts,’ but I didn’t that was very appropriate. (Oops, there I go again.) Wait, did you say I need Autocrit to do that? Hmmm…. Okay.

  6. Super fun comments, Joel & Co.

    Oh — the blog post itself, sorry: It’s great, really good stuff and, of course, funnnny.


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