You’re Not Illiterate; You’re Blind

A few days ago, I received the manuscript for Twistmas – The Season for Love back from my editor. Once again, I was reminded why editors are vital to making you not look illiterate. Or more accurately: why someone other than the author of the story must edit the manuscript.

I do a lot of editing for writers. I’m not familiar with the stories they’ve written; I’ve not read them dozens of times for years on end, tweaking the characters’ personalities, rearranging scenes and ensuring the plot runs in a logical manner. So when I first read a sentence in their story, if something is missing, I can immediately see it isn’t there. That’s right, what isn’t there.

Sometimes what isn’t there is a word, a complete, obvious, full-blown word, such as ‘you’. My editor noticed it wasn’t there in this sentence and added it for me.

  • “How do (you) find out all this stuff?”

Sometimes what isn’t there is the correct tense, such as past instead of present. My editor spotted me writing present time and transported me back to the past by changing ‘S’ to ‘D’.

  • A loud snapping sound echoes (echoed) in the empty shop, and Delanie crashes (crashed) to the floor.

Editors also spot missing letters. They should be there, and we, as writers, see them there, but they’re not really there. They are living in our imagination, and we need to get them down on paper. Can you spot the missing letters? Don’t worry if you can’t; they’re not there.

  • Jan nod (nodded). “I’ll get her off.” She reached for the cat, but he stopped her. “It’s okay. I like cats.”

Sometimes editors spot absence of mind. Because you know you know how to spell that word; you know what it really means, so when you read over this text for the fiftieth time, your imagination fills in the correct word and spelling because your mind is on vacation.

  • The drive home was quiet. Emmie slouched in the backseat, silent and probably half a sleep—he guested (guessed)—by the time they reached the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge.

Editors have magical eyes; they spot all these things because they are not blinded by familiarity and imagination.

Here’s a sneak peek at Twistmas – The Season for LoveTwistmas_Diane_Lynn_McGyver Front

Jan Cooper doesn’t believe in Santa Claus. The jolly old elf had failed to deliver the one true gift her heart desired. The single mom’s only wish is for Christmas to pass quickly, so life can return to normal, and she can forget about the two men who had disappointed her most: St. Nick and her ex-husband.

Delanie Taylor is regional manager for Dreamland of Toys. Divorced and struggling to control his teenage daughter and overbearing ex-wife, he has no time for romance. When he meets Jan’s daughter at the toy store searching for the perfect gift for her mother, he unknowingly discovers the perfect gift for himself.

I’m still tweaking the cover, but here’s what it looks like so far. This is done in PowerPoint.

4 thoughts on “You’re Not Illiterate; You’re Blind

  1. Your post is spot on. My edits came back a couple of days ago and I was shocked at these same kinds of errors because I’d read the MS over and over. Even some of my famous errors got past me, those I know to look for. Like yours my editor is fantastic and I couldn’t do it without her. She has taught me so much.


    • It is shocking, but I’m getting used to it. This is why I stress to other writers how important it is to have a second set of eyes read the story, preferably an editor. At the very least, have a friend who is knowledgeable in spelling, punctuation and grammar read the manuscript. Thanks for visiting, Linda.


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