Author Topic: Call for volunteer Copy Editors  (Read 132 times)

Offline teanndaorsa

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Call for volunteer Copy Editors
« on: June 28, 2020, 04:01:03 PM »
So it has been almost 9 months since I took over from Gromet to run the Plaza, and generally I think it's going fairly well. However what is very clear to me is that, thanks to the wonderful contributors to the site, the queue of submitted stories waiting for editing and publishing is pretty much never going to go away. In the last month alone the submissions have averaged more than 10,000 words per day, and those are just the recent ones; I've also a backlog of older stories from authors wanting to put up their previous work here.

That is great, no doubt, but servicing the queue of stories isn't the only thing that needs done; I want to tackle style issues across the sites so things are more readable, more consistent, and more easily maintained; I want the site to work even better on mobile and tablet devices; I want to clean up the affiliate banners and refresh them; I want to work on the links page so that readers can find other great kinky sites out there; and I want to work on the site structure itself so that we're in a position that, if something happens to me, the site can continue on and not evaporate as so many good story sites have done.

None of that stuff can reasonably be tackled right now, my time is sadly limited, and the backlog of stories is starting to creep up; the 3 weeks between submission and publishing is already longer than I would like it to be. As I've mentioned elsewhere on the forums, editing the stories to bring them up to a quality bar I'm happy with is the biggest time cost. Folks have suggested that a) I should simply refuse the stories that take the most work, b) I should lower the quality bar I set and just publish them as is. Neither of those are acceptable to me, for a variety of long complicated reasons that are not on topic here. The only reasonable option I have is to call upon the wonderful community we have for assistance, to help make the site all the things we'd like it to be.

That's a long way round of saying this: I'm looking for one or two people to be copy editors for the Plaza.

You may have something in your mind about what an editor does; collaborating with authors to make their stories better, a back and forth on ideas, polishing their work. That's not what this is. Would some of our authors like to work with editors like that? Yes, but that's a separate conversation. What I need are copy editors. People to sort out the readability of the stories, to correct obvious writing mistakes, and prepare them for publishing on the site. The goal is to alter the story as little as possible, whether it's written the way you would write it or not. It is not about critiquing their work, it is simply about taking away the simple errors that all of us writers make as we work, so that the readers can enjoy the story, and not get distracted or confused by easily corrected mistakes.

Personally, I find it to be satisfying, simple work, and often quite rewarding; as someone whose day job often involves fuzzy tasks which are hard to satisfactorily complete, copy editing gives me something I can do for 30-60m in an evening and see tangible progress and know I've done a good job. With a good command of written English, it's relatively easy to do. But it is unavoidably time consuming.

What would you need to have:
  • A Google account: I use Google Sheets and Google Docs to manage and edit the submissions.
  • A good command of English. Either a native speaker or fluency.
  • At least 1 or 2 hours free most weeks to devote to this. The more the better, but no more than 4 hours.
  • Respect for other authors and their work.

That's it. There is a simple spreadsheet with all the un-edited stories listed on it, and links to each story in Google Docs. All you have to do is edit the story, and note at the top of it:
  • Your name
  • How long you spent editing
  • The story codes you think are appropriate
  • Any notes or concerns you have about the story (e.g. if it breaches submission guidelines

I'll follow on from this post with a more detailed set of points about how I go about the editing that I'd expect potential editors to work to. If you're interested in giving it a shot, please email me at [email protected]

I'd want to try out prospective editors on a few stories to begin with, reviewing your work and feeding back on how well it's going. I may have to say no to people if they're not getting things to the same quality bar I need; otherwise I'm simply trading time spent copy-editing for time spent reviewing copy-editing I can't rely on. Please don't be offended if that turns out to be the case, this work isn't for everyone. But I'm hopeful that some of the great folks out there will be in a position to help, and that they may find it rewarding. If things work out really well it may even be feasible to arrange some sort of compensation for the effort, direct monetary compensation will not be possible but there may be other ways we can reward copy-editors for their work.

Offline teanndaorsa

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Re: Call for volunteer Copy Editors
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2020, 04:10:45 PM »
Editing Guide

Use search and replace across the entire file to:
  • Replace double space with single (repeat until only single spaces are left)
  • Replace ", with ," and do the same for ". "? and "! (closing quotes should always come after the punctuation)
  • Replace .... (four periods) with ... (three periods) (repeat until only standard ellipses are left)
  • Replace !! with !, same with ?? (repeat until only single marks are left)

As you go, you must:
  • Take notes when story elements come up that are described by story codes, e.g.:
    • A scene with a female dominating a male character comes up, note 'M/f'
    • The male is tied up with rope, note 'bond' and 'rope'
    • Pay attention to the consensuality of the action:
      • consensual: all the characters want things to continue or asked for this
      • reluct: one or more characters didn't ask for this or doesn't want things to continue; but before the end suggests they enjoy it anyway or are persuaded
      • nc: one or more characters didn't ask for this or doesn't want things to continue and they never relent
    • If story codes are trivial or throw-away then they can be omitted from the final set (e.g. one mention of latex panties does not make a story you'd tag with 'latex')

  • Fix spelling and grammar issues that Google Docs highlights for you:
    • If in doubt, or you could argue it both ways, leave it as the author wrote it.
    • If it's dialogue, ask yourself if the character might speak like that, e.g.:
      • because they have an accent
      • because they're confused, or speaking hurriedly
    • If it's a stylistic thing, because the story is being told first-person, treat the prose as being spoken by the narrator and give the same leniency
    • Otherwise, if it's just plain wrong, or it would confuse an average reader, fix it so it reads properly to you

  • Capitalise properly
    • Names (of people or organisations)
    • Titles (e.g. Sir, Madam, Mistress) but not descriptions (the madam who ran the brothel; his mistress stood behind him; etc.)
    • Names of things (e.g. the GruntMaster 3000) but not simple nouns (the rack, the stable)
    • Any other Random Capitals should be fixed to be lower case; unless it is clearly a stylistic choice for emphasis when speaking ("I have been Foolish and Deluded," said he, "and I am a Bear of No Brain at All.")

  • Fix dialogue punctuation according to the standard rules, including:
    • Proper capitalisation, and commas not periods
      • e.g.: "I'm done." She said.
      • should be: "I'm done," she said.
      • and: "Are you ready?" She said.
      • should be: "Are you ready?" she said.
    • New paragraph if a different person is speaking
    • Double quotes for someone speaking, single quotes for 'euphemism' phrases
    • Add whatever dialogue tags (Jane said, John replied) are needed to eliminate confusion about who is speaking (see the later note about redundant dialogue tags)
    • Use italics, not speech quotes, to denote character's thoughts; though also use dialogue tags.
      • Distinguish between direct thought (e.g. I need to get out of here, John thought) and indirect thoughts in the narration (e.g. This was going to get ugly, John realised)
      • Direct thoughts tend to be present tense
  • Make section breaks consistent and distinct from normal paragraph spacing:
    • Paragraphs should have zero or one newlines separating them
    • If paragraphs have two or more lines between them, it should be because it's a section break, i.e.:
      • Time has passed (a 'short' break)
      • We are changing scene / situation / narrator (a 'long' break)
    • Authors often use *** or -------- to indicate a 'line' section break
      • If the author uses an extra newline to denote a 'short' section break, and a line to denote a 'long' section break, be consistent with their style if you're making changes
    • Make sure that section breaks are done consistently throughout
      • Add new section breaks if needed, in the same style they've used (or *** if they haven't used any yet)
    • Remove section breaks when the scene has not stopped
      • I.e. none of the above conditions are true
      • Remove newlines until the paragraphs are spaced 'normally' (i.e. consistent with all the other paragraphs)
  • Check that the story doesn't jump around between past and present tense:
    • If it is just an isolated case (e.g. one sentence in the past tense when the rest is all in the present tense), correct to be in the same tense as the rest
    • If it is quite a few sentences in the wrong case, stop trying to correct occurrences of it and skim read the rest of the text. It may be that the vast majority of the text is the other tense, and only the very start of the text is in the "wrong" tense.
    • In general, it is not 100% clear what tense was intended, and more than a few sentences need fixed, stop editing the story and mark it as problematic so that I can go back to the author to get them to fix it.

You can, if you're confident:
  • Eliminate redundant dialogue tags:
    • E.g. in a scene with only two characters speaking:
"I do," Jane said.
"Really?" John asked.
"Yes," she replied.
    • The first tag is required (so we know it's Jane speaking not John)
    • The second is not: there's a question mark, and we can reasonably know it's John responding, so "John asked" adds nothing.
    • The third is not, because we can infer it's Jane responding, and it's obviously a reply.
"I do," Jane said.
    • Fix overuse of names: if "he" and "she" can be used because it's a man and a woman talking to each other, prefer that to their real names
    • Non-redundant tags should be kept, e.g.:
      • John asked, smiling. - the fact he's smiling is useful
      • Jane muttered. - The way she delivers the speech is useful
      • If there are more than two characters speaking and you can't tell who is speaking
      • If the conversation has gone on for a long while
      • If what they're saying to each other isn't easy to follow so you might confuse who is currently speaking

  • Fix paragraphs which are too long or too short:
    • Too long: 5-7 lines is a reasonable upper limit on a readable paragraph, any longer and it's hard to follow.
      • Look for natural breaks in what the paragraph describes, and separate them into two or more smaller paragraphs
      • Try not to break off just one or two lines from a long paragraph, unless the natural break is really obvious and the small paragraph stands well on its own
      • E.g. 4 sentences on how someone is being tied up, followed by a couple of sentences on how they struggled once tied; break the paragraph when it changes between the two
      • Also temporal changes, e.g.:
        • Jane was strapped up. Then she was tied down. While she struggled, she was blindfolded. Eventually she was left on her own to enjoy the sensations.
        • The "Eventually" is a shift in time that forms a natural break point that's good to break the paragraph on
    • Too short:
      • Single line or two-line paragraphs should be avoided
      • Except when the paragraph break is because a different person has started speaking
      • Stylistically short paragraphs can be left alone (used in moderation) - e.g. "He panicked." - deliberately short and punchy to emphasise the suddenness of it.
      • Combine them where sensible:
        • Again, look for natural groupings of multiple sentences
        • Combine actions one character takes with dialogue that character speaks
        • Try not to combine one character's speech with another character's actions

  • Fix overly long or run-on sentences (
    • Signs of which are:
      • More than one 'and'
      • More than one 'but'
      • Repeated use of 'then' (e.g., then I stood up, then sat down, then turned around) or other joining words
      • You just can't follow who did what to whom, and need to re-read the sentence to figure it out
    • Sentences should convey only one main idea
    • Asides (e.g. he closed the lock - though I couldn't see him do it - trapping me firmly in place) can be discounted, if used in moderation.
    • Fix them by:
      • Breaking them up using a semicolon (no more than one per sentence, unless it's genuinely a list of things that happened)
      • Add commas and en-dashes to break up the clauses, so there are more clearly several parts to the sentence
      • Terminating one sentence with a full-stop and starting a new one
« Last Edit: June 30, 2020, 01:43:15 PM by teanndaorsa »


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