Where was the editor?

I just read an ARC of a historical (Victorian) romance from a NY house. Now, I’d forgive typos and such because it is an ARC. But typically by that stage, the content editing is done. This thing could be a great story, but was a total mess of inconsistencies and errors and complete WTF. It drove me so crazy I could not enjoy the story. The heroine is randomly described as 26 or 27 or 28 years old; either she is the eldest or her brother is older than her; a pivotal event happened when she was 17 or when she was 18, which was mentioned as 8 or 10 years ago. A character broke his ankle yesterday — and for the next few days, he’s either unable to walk or is marching around the house or leaping up to get things (no mention ever of a cane or crutches). A woman is severely injured — compound fractures in arm (splintered bones sticking out through her skin), broken ribs, etc. Next day, no mention of bandages or cast, she’s able to put her arm in clothing sleeves; and three days later she is talking about being able to go home from the house where she’s visiting (via carriage and train).

Clearly this author needs major content assistance. Did the editor even read this? I am tempted to buy the released version and compare, to see if any of this got corrected between ARC and publication. I bet not.

Do errors like this in novels drive you as crazy as they drive me?

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5 thoughts on “Where was the editor?

  1. Oh, that kind of stuff drives me crazy! I just read the sequel to a book and the author mixed up two characters from the first book in the second one. Very jarring – it jerks you right out of the story. Still, for the book that you read to be in that much of a mess at the ARC stage is pretty scary! Does not bode well!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, confusing two characters would really make me wonder about the author. Unless we’re talking about one-scene walk-ons like the taxi driver and postal carrier or something. But if it’s characters who are involved in the plot… That’s why so many authors keep character development sheets and outlines. Of course, a related peeve of mine is when the author gives characters too-similar names, like a Tim and a Tom. As a reader, I can’t keep them straight!

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  3. As every editor I’ve ever had can attest, I am mathematically challenged. I tend to add years to a character’s age and miscalculate the answer. I have since learned than eight years added to eighteen does not equate to twenty-five. Go figure.

    All joking aside, I worship my editors because they catch the silly and careless mistakes I’ve made. I have been lucky in having some of the best in the business, however…

    My very first editor committed two completely unpardonable sins when editing the book. First, she apparently did not know the word ‘sweeting’ is a viable term of endearment in medieval times. So she did a global search and replace using the word sweetie. Of course EVERY word with the word sweet in it was changed. Now that wouldn’t have been SO bad except for one scene in which the dastardly villain is brutally torturing the stalwart prince and says to him: “What will you do now, sweetie prince?”

    And I shudder to think of her changing my mighty black destrier war horse to a grey mare as s/he crossed a Scottish stream where apparently there were piranha.

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  4. As a writer of Victorian erotic romance, this annoys me to no end! I do tons of research, give each character a birth date and keep track of ages within the book/series, keep track of character relationships, have a timeline/calendar of events in each novel. I’d say this was more like sloppy authorship rather than sloppy editing. I would never hand off a manuscript with problems like that.

    And, I’ve had editors edit out appropriate terminology as well. It’s frustrating.

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    • As an editor, I view it as a partnership with the author. We are coworkers, each bringing skills to the table. I don’t think an editor should change the story or rewrite parts of it. Changing obvious misspellings or typos is fine. But the editor should RESEARCH any word usages — or other facts — she may be unsure of or think are wrong. Then let the author know about it tactfully. To change an historical word or fact just because one “thinks” it is wrong or has never encountered it before is just plain bad editing.

      Of course, sometimes the editor is under a deadline or time-to-spend limits, and can’t do research. In which case, flag it for the author and ask her/him to verify, perhaps to provide the source to the editor.

      Raelene, who thinks editors should be strong, but not intrusive and never attempt to be the writer

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