Sunday, January 16, 2011

Author Intrusion: More Mistake Than Writing Style

In 2010, I read and reviewed a number of independently published novels, as well as several traditionally published books by large and small houses. After twelve months, it became clear that while many of the independently published books had wonderful plots, nearly all of them could have used one final, substantive and copy edit to achieve the level of professionalism that the traditionally published books have.

It’s not just the spelling and grammatical errors, which seem to occur more often in the latter third of the novels (in traditionally published books as well), but the lack of control in point of view. Specifically, I stumbled across too much author intrusion in “indie” books, and all of them would have been stronger if the authors had been more careful about point of view. Some of the intrusions were very subtle – a piece of given information that doesn’t seem to come from any characters’ thoughts. Other authors were more blatant and actually stopped the narrative to tell the reader something that wasn’t crucial to the story. Now, a few authors used the omniscient point of view (where perceptions, analysis or predictions can only come from the author) or from a combination of omniscient and third person POV, but the transitions were awkward at times. If indie writers want to raise the bar and rise above the competition, hiring a professional editor and controlling point of view would go a long way.

If you can’t afford an editor, try Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Rennie Browne and Dave King. It’s an excellent book that’s helped me and others.

Coming in March 2011, THE OPPOSITE OF DARK,

My Alex Bellamy mysteries can be purchased at


Marian Allen said...

Thanks for a most helpful piece of advice. POV seems to be hard to keep hold of. Wonderful of you to recommend a good book on self-editing!

You're right--when we self-publish, we owe it to ourselves, our readers and our fellow writers to give our work a professional-level editing.

Marian Allen

Cheryl Kaye Tardif said...

Wonderful post, Debra. And so very true.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers is a writer's Bible! It's on my desk!

Cheryl Kaye Tardif

libbarnes said...

Just downloaded your "Taxed to Death" to my Kindle last night. I work for a CA and found the title intriguing so decided it was a must have. I must say I am finding difficulty in knowing when to call it a night, very interesting read to say the least. Not certain what is going to happen next. I can see a considerable amount of research in this novel. I will definitely be downloading your other novels.
Libby Brett
Newmarket, Ontario

Debra Purdy Kong said...

Thank you, Libby, Cheryl, and Marian for your comments. Writing is a difficult, lifelong learning process, but happily many of the mistakes I see, and I make, are fixable!