Today I took a break from editing my fourth manuscript and started to read a thriller. To say I found it less than thrilling is an understatement. I hope in my efforts to become a good writer I do not lose my love of reading, but I can feel it happening. I get caught up in the words and lose the story.
And the authors are not helping.
In this particular thriller, the author described a character as a precise individual who did not use contractions. The writer did fine for most of the first chapter, then forgot what his character's persona was and started contracting all over the place. So, is the character precise?
How do I know if the author does not?
According to Emerson, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Some authors must think any consistency is an indication of a small mind, or they do not know the meaning of the word. The only consistency I see is poor writing.
I know I'm getting cynical about books, so I will give the author the benefit of the doubt. Sitting at a keyboard for any length of time can be rough, and one can get so involved in one's own story that one loses track of the words one is typing, but that's why there are editors.
Are there editors, though? I don't see much indication of it. Too many elemental mistakes are being made by authors who should know better.
The moral of today's tale? We must learn how to be our own editors if we hope to master the art of writing. This blog is no place for a tutorial on editing, but you know how to do it anyway. Make sure you use proper grammar (except for when you purposely do not want to use it). Take out all unnecessary adverbs and adjectives, remembering that most of them are unnecessary.
Remove anything, no matter how much you love it, that does not move the story along.
And be consistent.
Pat Bertram is the author of More Deaths Than One, and A Spark of Heavenly Fire now available from Second Wind Publishing, LLC.