As the URBAN AINT DEAD brand continues to expand and grow, our aim is always to shine light on the people behind the scenes who often contribute to the success of the Urban Fiction genre.
This week, we want to shine some light on editors, specifically on V Rena Miller of Red Diamond Editing by V Rena. We asked her a few questions about her experience as an editor and what makes her editing style different from others.
1. What made you want to become an editor?
"Actually, becoming an editor was not something that I really thought about or sought out to do. God placed it in front of me and navigated me to editing, not realizing that it would become my forever career. To give credit, in 2015, it was Author Twyla T, now publisher/author of Twyla T Presents, who gave me my push and start into editing. I did not realize I was editing at first, just applying what I learned over the years about the English language. However, as Twyla went along her writing journey, she brought me along with her and I became a part-time freelance editor in 2016. On April 15, 2022, with God’s guidance, grace, and mercy, I resigned from my job and became a full-time freelance editor and proofreader. Editing found me and I fell head over heels in love with it, causing me to explicitly love what I do."
2. As an editor, I’m sure you do a whole lot of reading. Do you only read books that you edit? How often do you read for your own leisure?
"Yes, I absolutely, positively love to read. It is my saving grace and my great escape. After I edit a book and when it is published, I still download it and read it as if it is my first time reading the story. And, I definitely read for pleasure and for leisure every day. I average around 300 books yearly for the Goodread book challenge, not including everything that I edit."
3. If you could give writers a piece of advice that would benefit both them and their editor, what would it be?
"I do not like to use the word advice, so I will offer my suggestion instead. My suggestion is to use the same verb tense (present or past) throughout the story. Only speaking for myself, when the story switches between the two, it slows down my editing process because I have to ensure the correct verb is being used throughout."
"For example, if the story is being told primarily in past tense but the present tense verbs are used in multiple sentences or paragraphs, it slows me down because now I have to thoroughly go through each sentence to check the verb and to change it correctly, so my red marks will certainly be visible. Therefore, applying the same verb tense throughout will greatly benefit both because 1) the editor can edit the document at a faster pace, and 2) the author can receive his or her manuscript back in a faster time frame."
4. What’s one of your editing pet peeves? What is something that authors commonly do that you would advise them not to do?
"It is not necessarily a pet peeve but I suggest that authors find other words to use in place of the two most overused words in a story, “said” and “ask.” I would add to not use the same words or phrase over and over again. This will help prevent the story from becoming monotoned. I suggest to look at the sentence and to see what the character is doing and you can make a reference based off of that."
"For example, if the character said something funny,instead of writing He/she said, other options are joked, grinned, laughed, teased, jested, kidded, etc.Instead of asked, options are checked, probed, questioned, inquired, etc. Instead of constantly saying look over here, look over there, looked into his/her eyes, looked her/him up and down, options are gazed, glanced, peeked, examined, searched, etc. Do not be afraid to use your vocabulary words to convey the character’s pov or emotions. So let Google and a thesaurus be your best friend."
5. What’s your favorite part about being an editor?
"Truthfully, I love all of it, even writing the synopsis.Editing is my service to others and assisting them in any way that I can. I love helping an author enhance their vision by cleaning up the errors and making their final product flawless, classy, quality, and with as much clarity as possible… just like a diamond. If you are going to put your name on a project, make sure it represents you well and in the best light."
6. What is something that you would suggest authors do right before turning their project in to be edited?
"Before and after an edit, I suggest to have a new set of eyes to look over it. This can be a relative, friend, or freelance proofreader. When you are too close to the project, you know what it supposed to say and can miss some things. However, fresh eyes can help you locate any additional errors and to give honest feedback if you prefer."
7. Who are your favorite kinds of authors to edit for? Or what kind of books do you like to edit the most?
"I just love the art of editing and proofreading books, so I have no preference and is open to edit any type of book or genre. The majority of books that I edit are urban fiction books but have edited romance stories and IR stories. I also proofread urban fiction and steamy (erotica), romance books. Additionally, I have edited devotionals books, children's books, and cookbooks."