What Do Editors Hate?

By on September 16, 2017
What Do Editors Hate? - Writer's Life.org

A piece of advice every writer should follow is to hire a professional editor to go through their work, once they have completed their book.

However, to actually prepare your manuscript for that stage, it’s a good idea to be aware of the common pitfalls that writer’s fall into. If you know what editors hate, you can make their lives easier and save you time and money too.

Not only is it good to look out for and fix the mistakes that editors hate before you send your book to them, but also for when you send your book to publishers and agents. If you want them to seriously consider your work, checking you have already eliminated any of these editors bugbears from your book before you send it off will give you a much better chance of success.

So what is it that editors hate? Let’s take a look.

No basic grasp of grammar or spelling

If every second word is a spelling mistake and every sentence is punctuated incorrectly, it’s going to take a huge effort and many hours to get through your book. This will mean editors have less time to concentrate on structure, character development and plot - elements which are important to receive feedback on. Do yourself a favour and run your manuscript through a spelling and grammar checker before you pass it to an editor.

Huge passages focusing on backstory

Having backstory is useful and a device to establish your characters and allow the readers insight into their past lives. However, if you focus too much on backstory both the editor and reader will get bored. Include details that are relevant and necessary - cut the rest out.

An entire chapter where the character is walking somewhere, driving somewhere or sitting in bed reminiscing

An excellent book will be fast paced and full of action - if a character spends too much time getting somewhere or reminiscing about something, this slows down the pace of your book - a pet peeve of editors.


Making your story overly dramatic will make it seem farcical and unbelievable. Readers need to buy into your story, to believe it - editors know that and so should you.

Making the same point over and over again

If you draw out a point laboriously or repeat it in different ways over and over again, it simply looks like you are trying to hit a word count rather than write a story that appeals to your readers. If you say something well, you only need to say it once.

Going into too much detail

Creativity is all about having poetic licence, and beautiful descriptions can be really affecting in a book and enhance your story significantly. However, when you spend an entire paragraph describing a vase in your characters living room, it better be seriously significant, otherwise you need to cut it down. Overwriting is a big no no for editors.

Silly inconsistencies

When you are editing and redrafting your novel, look out for inconsistencies. These can be anything from where a character is standing to the time of year. Inconsistencies are easy to make but will frustrate your editor as these should be picked up by you.

Repetitive vocabulary

If you continuously use the same descriptive word this will quickly get tiresome for your readers. Try to be unique and exciting with all your descriptions. If you know you overuse a word, try doing a ‘find and replace’ search of your manuscript so you can easily pick these up and change them.

Long passages of dialogue

Dialogue creates immediacy, can drive the action forward and reveals more about your characters. However, don’t turn every piece of dialogue into a massive speech or monologue. Use it as a device to break up the narrative instead.

Telling rather than showing

Editors hate it when you tell the reader something rather than showing them. Comb through your novel and pick up instances of when you are doing this - this will save your editor having to point them all out for you!

If you can go through your manuscript before you send it to an editor, agent or publisher and look out for these ten things, you’ll make their and your lives so much easier. So make sure you take the time to edit your book first thoroughly, and you’ll find you get so much more out of your editor and are more likely to have a positive response from a publisher too!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

About Ty Cohen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *