Editorial Tips for Authors of All Genres — Don’t Get Tense!

Welcome to editor Kathryn Riehl who has excellent tips for authors … readers may want to pay attention as well … *waves and hides red pencils*

Kathryn Riehl, EditorThanks, DD, for having me on your site.

Hello my name is Kathryn Riehl.  I am an editor at Riehl Faith Productions. Reading has always been a big part of my life. My husband is an author, screenwriter, playwright, and producer, so there is always something going on at the Riehl home!

I would like to share a few of the most common mistakes made by authors.  One of the big ones is combining “tense”, such as; “I stepped away from the window seeing an unknown man approaching”. Do you see it? “I stepped” is past tense, “seeing and approaching” are present tense.  Of course there are the ever popular there, their, and they’re. Another big one is then and than.

Another thing that I see frequently is when the author tries too hard. By this I mean, using big words. I was an EMT for 8 years, and believe me proper terminology has its place.  However, if you are not sure how to use the word, then don’t! For example the medical term for “sweating” is diaphoresis; therefore, if a patient is sweating profusely, he is diaphoretic.  I had a fellow EMT ask me once while he was writing the report “what is the word for sweating?” My answer to him was sweating! Why? Because he didn’t know the medical term and therefore shouldn’t use it! He was much more comfortable using the word sweating.

Please be careful when you are describing something. An example would be, “the wind was blowing like a Tsunami hitting the coast of Jamaica during the tourist season”. A better description would be “Tsunami force winds”. See, that wasn’t hard! It did cut down on word count but word count isn’t everything. You will lose readers if you go on and on about how something looks or feels.

If you are writing non-fiction or if you are putting fact into your fiction works, research is mandatory! You can’t go on what you think, or what you’ve heard.  Always check more than one source.  Make sure your source is reliable!

Last but not least is the use or lack thereof, of contractions. Your dialog has to match the character. If your main character is 16 he probably wouldn’t say “I cannot understand why Joe said that to me”. Instead he would say “I can’t understand why Joe would say that”.  See the difference?

When you submit your work to your editor, remember it is his obligation to give you honest feedback.  If all he does is correct your spelling, he is doing you a great disservice, (unless of course you only want your spelling checked!)  If your book lacks continuity your reader will become frustrated and your book will most likely just collect dust on the book shelf. 

I hope this has been helpful.  Please find me on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kathryn-Riehl/335766949861470.  My personal page is https://www.facebook.com/kathryn.riehl.9?ref=tn_tnmn

My email address is kathrynriehl@hotmail.com

Please feel free to contact me with question on this blog and my editing services.  Smile and keep writing!

About Don Simkovich

Writing is foundational to our communication like running is to sports.
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