Topper Jones

Adventures in Editing Part 3: But Wait, There’s More!

In this week’s Manuscript Makeover blog post, we tackle two new challenges from the “first-round” edits: Avoiding Losing the Reader with Formatting Faux Pas and How to Repair Broken Prose. Let’s dive in.
Copy editing graphic with image of typewriter
Photo credit: emerson23work (

Formatting Faux Pas

Text Charts

To ensure proper formatting for the e-book version of the manuscript, my publisher limits the typeface to a single proportional-spaced serif font. During the hunt for clues in All that Glisters the sleuths come across a few documents that shed light on the case. I had hoped to draw the reader’s attention to these documents by using a special font: mono-spaced Courier. The editor noted, “These won’t show up the way you have them. The formatting will be off.” That’s because the publisher typesets the manuscript using a proportional space font. 

Gold assay results table

Corrected: The text chart was deleted as inessential because the next paragraph recapped in narrative form all the necessary details.

Embedded Image Files and Text Boxes

Other clues the amateur sleuths uncover along the way involved access to images that I had embedded in the manuscript by inserting a photo. The editor advised me as follows: 

“You will need to either type them out or remove them and let the conversation between them guide the readers. We don’t add jpg’s/images within our books.”


Presidentail Executive Order Sample

Corrected: Eliminated the photo of the executive order and typed out the contents as part of the manuscript text as follows—


By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to promote a return to sound money, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Sec. 1. Establishment. The Second Presidential Advisory Commission on Gold is hereby established.

Wingdings and Symbolic Characters

Special characters such as icons, stars, and arrows (often referred to as Wingdings) are easy to insert in Word using the menu option: Insert->Symbols. In All that Glisters, I replicated a Medical Examiner’s form which included checkboxes. Unfortunately, Wingdings play havoc with e-books as the editor points out: “In digital files, the boxes will show up as hieroglyphic markings. That’s why I placed em dashes instead of the box. The checkmark had to be annotated.”

Sample checkmark
Corrected: — Suicide…Check mark

Repairing Broken Prose

Scene Clarification

Sometimes the editor will catch plot holes—in this case, a “physically impossible situation.”

Flagged: We heard Jenny stifle a moan.

Here’s the context: the protagonist and sidekick are video conferencing with Jenny who has discovered her boss’s body. The editor writes, “If they were still Facetiming, perhaps they could see her stifle a moan by her body’s reaction. But to hear her stifle a moan?”

Corrected: We heard a low moan from Jenny.

And here’s another example of the physically impossible (at least for mere mortals).

Flagged: She started geisha-walking backward, straining against the duct tape that wrapped her ankles to the stool legs. Suddenly, she spun, jumped up with both feet, and spiked Jaxon’s lower shin with her high heels.

The editor wrote: “I’m not sure about this part. The woman was geisha-walking backward. Granted, she may have had the strength to jump in the air but to spike his lower shin? She would have had to be close to him, jump, and kick outward, falling hard on the concrete. It reads as though she’s some superhero suddenly. Am I missing something?”

Corrected: Revised to remove any possibility the character is a superhero with special powers. Instead, she uses the geisha walk to loosen the duct tape before charging Jaxon head-on.

Overuse of Pronouns

The editor flagged a paragraph with a plethora of personal pronouns: 3 nominative (she) and 7 objective (her). In the revised version I was able to reduce the count to one nominative and three objective with a little rewording.

Unintentional Head Hopping (POV Switch mid-scene)

All that Glisters is written in first person from the protagonist’s (Thad Hanlon’s) point of view. In this scene, the Treasury Secretary’s Secret Service detail is questioning Thad.

Flagged: Jaxon glanced at his Secret Service Jorg Gray 6500 chronograph: 16:54 hours.

My editor had this to say: “Edited this because it’s out of Thad’s POV. He is not in a position to read the watch face or brand.”

Corrected: Jaxon glanced at his watch.

In another scene involving Thad reflecting on a sudden turn of events, the editor highlighted the following:

Flagged: My face turned as red as my hair. 

The editor commented: “Did he see himself in a mirror/glass door that his face was redder than his hair? If not, out of his POV and just a writer’s interjection with details.”

Corrected: I could feel my cheeks turning red.

One Final Takeaway for Manuscript Makeovers

Editing applies to more than manuscripts. Sometimes the first draft of our life requires a rewrite. As my good wife and award-winning author Dorothy Allred Solomon likes to say:

“As we get older, gathering years and relationships, we often have to streamline our lives, acquiring some new hobbies and giving up others, keeping some people and letting go of others.”

Further Exploration

For a quick review of Point of View and how to fix Head Hopping in your story, check out:

What is Head Hopping, and How to Avoid This Writing Mistake by Holly Riddle (Updated Feb 3, 2023)

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