Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Is Your Mechanic Editing Your Manuscript?

When I teach any writing class, I always ask the participants to raise their hands if their are either poor spellers or pathetic at grammar. I then follow it up by telling people to look around and remember these people. Authors should not go to these people for help in those areas. After a few laughs, I then explain.

When your car is broken, do you take it to a plummer? The odds are you don't, or at least I hope that you don't take your car there! If you want your car in great working order, you find the best of the best and someone who you can trust. The same goes for writing.

Unfortunately, for far too many authors out there, they are taking their writing to their mechanics and plummers. The advice they are getting from their critique partners, those supposedly trained individuals teaching those sessions on line and at conferences, in many cases, are far from trained to be handing out advice.

Now, don't get me wrong on this analogy, but I think this works fairly well. Toastmasters is an organization that allows people to learn how to work with public speaking. Generally meeting at a local restaurant or library, they get together monthly to give speeches and critique each other. While the intent of this program is great, I have seen far too many of these programs with people who really don't know how to create an effective presentation, handing out advice to other individuals. Again, I love the idea behind Toastmasters, but you have to be careful.

As a writer, I cannot stress enough to make sure you do a true background check on that person who you are going to for advice. They may say they are published, but what type of publishing did they do? Did they have any training? You know the list.

As conference coordinators, do you really do background checks on who you are putting into those workshops? Sure, they might have a great session idea. They might even have fantastic handouts. But when they claim they are published, how long have they been published? Where have they been published? You might surprise yourself here but you may be sending a mechanic into the room to help out those writers who paid a great deal of money to attend your conference.

Now, can you still get advice from your mechanic? Sure. But make sure they type of questions you are asking and keep it focused. And, more importantly, don't go trusting your whole writing career on that person's comments. You might be in for a world of hurt!


1 comment:

  1. Hi Scott,

    You have an incorrect use of the word 'their' in the first line. "I always ask the participants to raise their hands if 'their' (should be "they're" or "they") are either poor spellers or pathetic at grammar."

    Finding a great editor is difficult. They have to know your genre, have superior grammar/spelling skills and understand your message. It's tough. Thanks for the write up!