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JoitheArtist
04-21-2010, 04:35 PM
My friend asked me to edit his book. I should have asked for sample pages, because it is a MESS. It's 330 pages of mixed tenses, run-on sentences (many of them running 8 lines or more). He will CONSTANTLY start a sentence with "a person" and then using the pronoun "they" or "their." When I insisted that this was not grammatically correct (singular nouns MUST have singular pronouns), he linked to some Wikipedia article and insisted that the entire book would be written that way.

It's driving me crazy, and I can't rant about it on Facebook because my friend is on there, too, and as irritating as it is, he *is* still my friend and I don't want to hurt his feelings.

So...Here are some of my favorite passages (note: the content is essentially religious, but please don't associate my views with his--we disagree a lot):


Is there a person alive who hasnít, at some point in their life, at some time in their existence, who hasnít found themselves grappling with those questions as they tried to make sense of it all?

*twitch* Singular subject...plural pronouns...*twitch* And plural pronouns with singular verbs...*twitch*

As sorrow seems so prone to move throughout this temporal existence, as it seems so prone to stroke the face of those who seek desperately to lay hold of their faith and to keep it in their grasp even amidst the most trying and the most dire of circumstances and situations in their lives, there has always been a question as to how God should be seen, how He should be viewed.

What does this even mean????

Yet how does a person battle the feelings of desolation that come with the feelings of isolation and abandonment in this world? How do they battle the feelings of anguish and hurt that come with an abiding sense of loneliness that seems to set them apart in this world? How do they find themselves coping with a feeling of seclusion that seems to just overwhelm them and cause them so much trouble in their heart as their spirit seems so alone, devoid of the connections and the ties to the rest of humanity that they so long for, that they so need?

So...many...unnecessary...phrases....*twitch*

As much as no person is an island, at times they need to be upon an island so that they he can reflect on everything that is around them, the world that is around them , so they he can come back with clarity and a driven purpose.

....what?

There though, there should be a line of distinction that should and must be rightly drawn. This is namely the difference between an act of solitude, a willful act of privacy where one seeks the time alone so that they can reflect and so they can seek out specific answers and loneliness, a feeling where one is removed or estranged from society, in it yet feeling like they are not a part of it. Sometimes people need time alone, time where they are separated from the rest of society or far from other people. Yet where it becomes harmful or dangerous is when a person begins to become isolated from it, feeling abandoned from it or as if they had abandoned it themselves, as feelings of despair come to bear in their lives and they canít help but feel like they are alone and lost amidst it all.

...

AAAUUUUGGGGHHHH!!!!! 330 PAGES OF THIS!!!

Irving Patrick Freleigh
04-21-2010, 04:40 PM
I will admit I use plural pronouns with singular subjects all the time. But that's because I have this habit of writing the same way I talk.

I'm so sorry you have to wade through all that. That little bit almost made My Immortal look good by comparison.

r2cagle
04-21-2010, 04:49 PM
OMG... my soul just shrieked.

Years ago when I was a teenager wallowing in the angst of my life, I wrote 'stuff' comparable to this. Looking back, what I wrote is drivel.

If it was me, I'd be handing all 330 pages back and saying that it is unreadable due to his run-on sentences. He needs to go back and rewrite all paragraphs using shorter sentences and removing duplicate phrases before you even think about editing this. Because, if you have to edit this, it basically means you are rewriting the whole thing. What kind of book is this, his diary (sheesh)?

Edit: Just reading through the little bits of what you've shown, he can't even keep the subject in line with his adjective descriptions. Joi..you need a huge bottle of something - to drink or something. :(

ArcticChicken
04-21-2010, 04:54 PM
I think the major problem comes from a lack of gender neutral pronouns that we use for people.

I assume (you know what they say about assumptions) that your friend doesn't want to alienate people by using one gender. You could suggest to him that he alternate gender with the paragraph (i.e. the first paragraph uses he/him/his, the second uses she/her/hers, etc.)

It won't save the writing, but at least you won't have to worry about the grammar so much.

JoitheArtist
04-21-2010, 04:55 PM
I will admit I use plural pronouns with singular subjects all the time. But that's because I have this habit of writing the same way I talk.


I do the same thing when I talk, but it sure as hell doesn't come out in any writing that anyone else ever sees. :) And since he considers himself a professional writer, this is inexcusable.

If it was me, I'd be handing all 330 pages back and saying that it is unreadable due to his run-on sentences. He needs to go back and rewrite all paragraphs using shorter sentences and removing duplicate phrases before you even think about editing this. Because, if you have to edit this, it basically means you are rewriting the whole thing. What kind of book is this, his diary (sheesh)?

I wish I had that option, but I agreed to edit the book (yes, I'm being paid a little) before looking at any of it. Next time someone asks me to edit, I'm requesting some sample pages first!

Magpie
04-21-2010, 05:46 PM
And your friend even fails at avoiding gendered pronouns! If you're going to use "they" as a gender-neutral singular pronoun, then don't mix it with "he".

JoitheArtist
04-21-2010, 06:12 PM
And your friend even fails at avoiding gendered pronouns! If you're going to use "they" as a gender-neutral singular pronoun, then don't mix it with "he".

Yep. I don't care which pronoun he picks; in my own writing, I tend to use "he" for one paragraph and "she" in the next, alternating. Geez, you can even avoid the issue altogether by just using plural subjects: "people," "persons," "believers," etc. I'll even grudgingly accept "he or she," though it's incredibly clunky.

But to mix person and tense, and not even be consistent about your grammatical insanity...ARGH!

r2cagle
04-21-2010, 06:17 PM
(yes, I'm being paid a little)

Maybe you should ask for a percentage of sales in addition too. You certainly can't be getting paid enough to do the editing this 'work' obviously needs.

Is this that same friend who has trouble with criticism?

JoitheArtist
04-21-2010, 06:47 PM
Maybe you should ask for a percentage of sales in addition too. You certainly can't be getting paid enough to do the editing this 'work' obviously needs.

Is this that same friend who has trouble with criticism?

One and the same. And he's self-publishing. *headdesk*

I am truly an idiot and got what I deserve for not being able to say "no."

Fire_on_High
04-21-2010, 06:47 PM
Send him this link. (http://www.megagenius.com/editorial_no_25.htm)

ottid
04-21-2010, 07:31 PM
What's the bet that if he had given you a sample page it would have been the one page that is almost perfect?

Ben_Who
04-21-2010, 07:33 PM
I always have an insecurity attack whenever I see examples of someone else writing poorly. Occupational hazard, I suppose: my errors can be invisible to me, and I'm a terrible, terrible judge of my own work, so my reaction is usually, "Oh, my lord, do I make the same mistake?"

And bear in mind that this is coming from someone who's published two novels and a stack of short stories. So it doesn't go away with experience.

Last time I visited my mother, my niece (age 12) ran upstairs to show me the first fifty pages of the 300 page opus she had just started, a vampire-werewolf thingy written by a young girl suffering a Maximum Ride overdose. She hovered relentlessly as I pored over the pages, trying desperately to think of something nice to say. I finally settled on, "You know, I used to edit an anthology. This is a lot better than some of the professional submissions I received."

Which was true enough. I think that my mother caught on to exactly how backhanded that compliment was, but was polite enough to say nothing. My niece was all smiles, though. ...Then she gave me the rest of the pages. I haven't written back yet.

Love, Who?

El Pollo Guerrera
04-21-2010, 07:55 PM
Ho boy...

Those samples made my brain hurt.

The one trick I use when proofreading is to read the sentence out loud, and if it sounds bad it probably is.

Ask your friend if he could clarify a few of the sentences for you by reading them out loud. Then choose the longest and most mind-numbing ones that you can find. He may get the hint.

















Or not.

LadyMage
04-21-2010, 08:39 PM
Ohhh...ouch! *cringes*

I'm amazed. I used to write like that at maybe 15, until a tough-as-nails British teacher sat me down and effectively told me to edit my own work, thoroughly, twice over before it went to his desk. That taught me sharpish.

And yes, the read-aloud test is gold for editing anything. These examples though, egad. I'm cringing still!

Andara Bledin
04-21-2010, 08:50 PM
He will CONSTANTLY start a sentence with "a person" and then using the pronoun "they" or "their." When I insisted that this was not grammatically correct (singular nouns MUST have singular pronouns), he linked to some Wikipedia article and insisted that the entire book would be written that way.
As awful and irritating as it is, this is actually now both common and accepted in written English.

If you know the gender, you would go with the gender-appropriate pronoun, but if the gender is unknown, the current vogue is to use the gender-neutral plural pronoun because most people get all sorts of bent out of shape if you try to use the gender-neutral singular pronoun.

I am happy to say that even at my most angsty, long-winded, and overblown, I have never written anything that could be mistaken for that.

^-.-^

r2cagle
04-21-2010, 09:02 PM
I want to guess what the premise of the book is about - just because I like to judge a book by it's cover:

*Bad stuff happens. Grow up and deal with it*

There. It's edited it too. :devil:

I want my acknowledgement on the bottom left of the 2nd page after the cover, and maybe on the top right of the last page. :roll:

JoitheArtist
04-21-2010, 09:53 PM
As awful and irritating as it is, this is actually now both common and accepted in written English.

It's still no excuse for him switching back and forth between methods. There are ways of doing that well, and he's not using one of them... :)

*Bad stuff happens. Grow up and deal with it*

There. It's edited it too. :devil: ]

LOL! Pretty much--his advice isn't really very good, and it frustrates me, because it should be!! The book is about dealing with depression through faith, and he himself has dealt with some truly atrocious stuff...and this is all he can convey in the writing? SIGH.

lupo pazzesco
04-21-2010, 10:05 PM
Ooooooh, that made my brain go squish...and ooze out of my ears.

I like to write, and I have, at times, looked over some of my friends' works. His reminds me of one such (ex!) friend, who, despite my ruthlessly fixing every inch of her grammar to the best of my ability, decided not to make the adjustments. why?

Because, according to her, the message was deep and moving, and as such, it NEEDED to be portrayed that way. She was the type of person who thought she wrote meaningful stuff ALL the time, and heavens help you if you naysayed her. Your friend's paragraphs remind me of her writing.

And of Hawthorne.

I loathed reading Hawthorne in high school. 7 page sentences with endless commas, dashes, semicolons, and colons, all to say something that could've been summed up in 7 words...

"She refused to name her child's father." (Scarlet Letter, in case anyone's wondering.)

JoitheArtist
04-21-2010, 10:33 PM
Ooooooh, that made my brain go squish...and ooze out of my ears.

I like to write, and I have, at times, looked over some of my friends' works. His reminds me of one such (ex!) friend, who, despite my ruthlessly fixing every inch of her grammar to the best of my ability, decided not to make the adjustments. why?

Because, according to her, the message was deep and moving, and as such, it NEEDED to be portrayed that way. She was the type of person who thought she wrote meaningful stuff ALL the time, and heavens help you if you naysayed her. Your friend's paragraphs remind me of her writing.

And of Hawthorne.

I loathed reading Hawthorne in high school. 7 page sentences with endless commas, dashes, semicolons, and colons, all to say something that could've been summed up in 7 words...

"She refused to name her child's father." (Scarlet Letter, in case anyone's wondering.)

I am ok with some wordiness in literature, probably because I grew up reading Dickens, and fell in love with The Brothers Karamazov at 16. :D But even then, those guys know how to do wordiness WELL. (ok, so not Lovecraft, really, but he's fun to read, so I forgive him most of the time)

You wanna know the REALLY funny thing? You'd think my friend would like the works of Dickens, or the Russians, or any of the really wordy authors...but no.

His favorite author?

Ernest freakin' Hemingway. :banghead:

CrazedClerkthe2nd
04-22-2010, 01:17 AM
I feel for you. I am writing my own story at the moment and I'm a hard judge on myself. Everything I've ever read about the publishing industry says editing is a critical phase in the process and the feedback you receive and the way in which it is used can make a good novel a great novel.

Sparky
04-23-2010, 01:57 PM
I once had to make a couple of simple changes to a document and I asked my boss (university professor) if I could please, please, please change a line reading something like "if a student ... they should..." to "he or she should." Professor Godcomplex told me that not only was this acceptable, it was actually "more correct" and that he knew better than I did because he has more education. :pissed:

r2cagle
04-23-2010, 10:02 PM
His favorite author?

Ernest freakin' Hemingway.

This is actually not surprising to me. :confused:


Had a thought, Joi. How about telling your friend that you've read through twice, and his 'advice' is getting overshadowed by the whole tone of his book? Does he want you to edit out the excess that 'looms incessantly in a murky haze of pillowy shadows' :devil: that drags his book down, or does he just want spelling/grammar proofed? Do exactly what he wants, and he can self-publish it. Then when he actually wants to sell more than 5 books, maybe he'll be more open to honest critique. Meh, it's an option anyway, just don't be a doormat.

Seshat
04-23-2010, 10:44 PM
Joi,

You're not stuck doing it because you said you would. You can always say something like "maybe I'm not the right editor for what you want".

Or if you're not in a 'let him down gently' mood, "I can't do this. Here's your money back, go find someone else".

If you don't need the money, don't do it. There's absolutely nothing unprofessional about simply saying "I'm not the right person for the job you want done". And he doesn't want the job you would do - so you're not!

AnaKhouri
04-23-2010, 11:24 PM
Seriously. I could not even read the samples you provided, no fucking way could I read 330 pages of this shit.

I think you should collect our comments and include them in your analysis. :devil:

TheComputerError
04-24-2010, 06:55 AM
Is there a person alive who hasnít, at some point in their life, at some time in their existence, who hasnít found themselves grappling with those questions as they tried to make sense of it all?

This is where I stopped reading.

My edited version:

Is there a person alive who hasnít, at some point in their life, at some time in their existence,* who hasnít** found themselves grappling with those questions as they tried to make sense of it all?

* Redundant as a person's life and existence are identical.
** Redundant as these two words specifically have been duplicated both prior and after the comma-separated clause.

I won't touch the "themselves" and "they" as I am a bit partial to "xyrself" and "xe" in those situations. Sadly, the English language is lacking a proper pronoun for this purpose, so I just move on. Although, if your friend is talking about religion, using the masculine pronoun would be more appropriate as most scripture uses masculine pronouns for the general populace.

Gravekeeper
04-25-2010, 10:41 AM
Gah!

Painful read. I mean, I'm not one to talk considering some of my rambling sometimes. But at least I make sense. ....I think.

What's the title anyhow? Metaphor Comma: The Redundancy? >.>

Chromatix
04-25-2010, 04:06 PM
I've seen better - much better - from non-native English speakers.

We have several different nationalities in the office here, so believe me I have to deal with some pretty thick accents, but they have something in common: a coherent idea to communicate.

Pagan
04-25-2010, 05:50 PM
I loathed reading Hawthorne in high school. 7 page sentences with endless commas, dashes, semicolons, and colons, all to say something that could've been summed up in 7 words...

"She refused to name her child's father." (Scarlet Letter, in case anyone's wondering.)

I'm glad I'm not the only one. I hate that book! To this day, I can't figure out why people get all upset over the sex on TV, yet think kids should read the "Scarlet Letter". The soaps can't do better than that storyline.

At least I never had to read "The Red Badge of Courage".

I feel for you. I am writing my own story at the moment and I'm a hard judge on myself. Everything I've ever read about the publishing industry says editing is a critical phase in the process and the feedback you receive and the way in which it is used can make a good novel a great novel.

Same here. I've got mine in three different parts and am trying to get to the place for them to come together. Things will probably change a great deal. The only thing that I've nailed down for sure is the title. :rolleyes:

I wonder how many of us here are writing books? :lol:

Kristev
04-25-2010, 06:16 PM
Well, I am. But you can't go by me because I'm so dully, it's my only real form of fun.

TheSHAD0W
04-25-2010, 06:54 PM
The only thing I've found that makes my writing better is to write it, then set it down and ignore it for several days. (Moving on to another section of the manuscript works.) Then pick it up and re-read it. Then edit it. Then repeat a few times.

Andara Bledin
04-25-2010, 10:04 PM
At least I never had to read "The Red Badge of Courage".
I never had to read either of those, for which I'm quite thankful. Then again, I had a literature teacher who played Iron Maiden in class while we were doing Rime of the Ancient Mariner. :D
I wonder how many of us here are writing books? :lol:
*raises hand*

^-.-^

morgana
04-26-2010, 02:01 PM
I wonder how many of us here are writing books? :lol:

*also raises hand* :o

AnaKhouri
04-26-2010, 05:19 PM
Working on the second book; shopping the first to agents.

Seraph
04-26-2010, 07:09 PM
Ouuuuch....poor Joi. <comforts>

I know the feeling a bit too. My husband is writing his first fantasy novel....it's REALLY freaking good, but he changes tenses randomly. A lot. I was trying to edit it myself but at this point I'm just thinking of hiring an editor to handle it. I feel bad telling him myself which parts are screwy. He gets that kicked puppy look in his eyes. ><

Evil Queen
04-26-2010, 07:51 PM
I'm pretending to write a book. (read: i haven't touched it in over a month). Does that count?

Kaylyn
04-26-2010, 11:36 PM
*is also writing a book*

I've got a mailing list of friends that are reading it chapter by chapter as I write. These poor friends have put up with so many rewrites of the first few chapters already! :D

On an interesting note, an old WoW guildie sent a sample of my writing to a friend of hers who edits for a couple of well-known mystery novelists. Though I'm writing nowhere close to that genre, he said he approved of my writing style and is amazed I haven't been published. Did wonders for my ego! So I might actually have a shot!

Andara Bledin
04-27-2010, 12:52 AM
Hey, considering some of the crap I've found on the shelves at Borders, I suspect that most of us have a pretty good shot. :p

^-.-^

octopi23
04-27-2010, 02:46 AM
Joit, would you be willing to edit a lowly 16-year-old's writing?

Seshat
04-27-2010, 04:29 AM
I was trying to edit it myself but at this point I'm just thinking of hiring an editor to handle it. I feel bad telling him myself which parts are screwy. He gets that kicked puppy look in his eyes. ><

He's going to have to get over that. Professional editors don't have time to coddle - I've been pro-edited many times.

What helped me was reminding myself that if my work wasn't basically good, they wouldn't be taking the time to edit me in the first place. They'd just send it back with a 'not good enough'.

But yeah - if he can't take criticism from you, he's got to toughen himself up if he's interested in being an author.

JoitheArtist
04-27-2010, 08:32 PM
Joit, would you be willing to edit a lowly 16-year-old's writing?

Probably not, but if you have a few sample pages, I'd be willing to take a cursory look. :) The thing is, I'm pretty swamped these days, and I don't want to commit to anything I won't be able to follow through on--I HATE it when people do that to me, so I don't want to do that to anyone else.


I'm also writing a book! And re-writing two of them. Last year's NaNoWriMo novel (a 200,000 word monster) turned out really good, and all of my readers have agreed that I really should try to get it published (including my friend who edited the crap out of it). I seem to do well writing space fantasy with strong female leads. I can live with that. :lol:

(actually, I still need test readers, so if anyone wants to read about Dejah Sorenson and her daring expedition to bring back the Mars Phoenix Lander, let me know. :D )

AccountingDrone
04-27-2010, 09:53 PM
(actually, I still need test readers, so if anyone wants to read about Dejah Sorenson and her daring expedition to bring back the Mars Phoenix Lander, let me know. :D )

Ill give it a shot, I am a sucker for female leads.

AnaKhouri
04-27-2010, 10:21 PM
He's going to have to get over that. Professional editors don't have time to coddle - I've been pro-edited many times.

Yup- Husband is my ideal reader (as described in Stephen King's On Writing) because I know he won't pull any punches. He loves me enough to want to see me be my best (Dollhouse flashback...).

I'll read it Joi!- and I'll read anything anyone else wants me to read too. I'll provide my list of publications if you want proof I know a little bit about writing. :)

Pagan
04-27-2010, 11:14 PM
(actually, I still need test readers, so if anyone wants to read about Dejah Sorenson and her daring expedition to bring back the Mars Phoenix Lander, let me know. :D )

I'd love to be a reader, too! :D

Pairou
04-27-2010, 11:42 PM
Yup- Husband is my ideal reader (as described in Stephen King's On Writing) because I know he won't pull any punches. He loves me enough to want to see me be my best (Dollhouse flashback...).

I LOVED that book! It really helped me out when I was struggling with whether or not I wanted to pursue writing as more than just a hobby. I lost my copy before I could finish it though. :<

JoitheArtist
04-28-2010, 04:51 PM
wooohoo, more test readers! Just send me a PM with your email addy, and I'll send you the book file. :)

Andara Bledin
04-28-2010, 08:34 PM
actually, I still need test readers, so if anyone wants to read about Dejah Sorenson and her daring expedition to bring back the Mars Phoenix Lander, let me know. :D
Free stuff to read? Count me in!

^-.-^