Editing Rant: Choose a Color

3 Stages of Editing
Image courtesy of Jody Helund from blog entry: When should writers get critiques
Used with permission
Introduction to Editing Rants and Choosing a Color

I mentioned I do line editing for small presses. I took up this occupation to become a better writer. By reviewing other people’s works, I get a better understanding of what can go wrong where. 

I’ve come to have a whole ‘nother level of respect for editors of all sorts. As a line editor I concentrate on the middle ground. Content editors, macro editors, are the ones who make the book better – get the right number of characters, tell the writer if they need additional plot lines, and help figure out where the story actually starts. Proofreaders, micro editors, get the grammar, punctuation, and spelling. In between is the undefined world of line editing. I fact check and find POV switches within a paragraph. I point out word and phrase choices that may need clarification and find objects appearing in the end of the book but not the beginning. All things that annoy or make the story smoother.

And when going over a manuscript for the second or third time, I sometimes break down and have rants. My online writer’s group has informed me that the information I share (they are so polite – more accurate would be half-insane sleep-deprived gibberish appearing at midnight) has helped them. So I thought I would clean up some of those rants, to protect the guilty, and share them here for your amusement and edification about once a month.

Rant from November 30, 2015

“choose a colour” (editing for British this week) – Bold & underline for emphasis – oh and gray/grey – “a” is American and “e” is England

Its skin had dulled to an unhealthy greyish shade, and a nasty chunk was missing from its arm. The skin hung horribly and held an odd, green tint.

And yes, these two sentences were back to back in the manuscript. I recommended combining into one and choosing a color. During initial phases of writing and later in revision, it is easy to add repetitive phrasing as the author tests things to find the correct one. I’ve had everyone in a romance book have “brilliant blue eyes”, and other times the hero and heroine eye colors switch.

Eye color changing falls under a “continuity error”. If you are a writer, I recommend doing an edit just on person and clothing description. Choose a color and make certain you stick with it – be it eye color or skin color.

So have you ever as a reader or a writer found issues related to color switching? Spill in the comments below!