on Career Authors:
The other day while editing a fiction manuscript I came across yet another character described as “nondescript”—a not uncommon literary dereliction of duty. Then a bit later I came upon the stale use of “the good doctor.” That jaunty old chestnut appears all too regularly and invariably gets on my nerves.
You’ve heard again and again how empathetic, sensitive, and creative writers are, while editors are sometimes regarded as narrow-minded nit-pickers. But editors have feelings too (sort of).
I polled independent book editors to learn which minor—or maybe major—editorial gaffes regularly appear in the course of their editorial duties. What makes their teeth grind or brow furrow? What words or phrases do they long to strike out, and what makes them want to toss out an entire manuscript?
Nitpicky or not, authors are advised to heed the following editorial guardrails for their own good. (Don’t poke the bear!) Read on, sensitive author, and learn what you should not do.