The plot’s fine but the sub plot thickens


I hope you recall my post about the editing of Harlan Coben’s book. I found another of his in a local charity shop and grabbed it. It turned out to be a much earlier one, and although it was very good it was easy to tell just how much he has matured as a writer.

The title of this second read is Drop Shot.

It was a competent crime story with believable characters and an interesting plot. There were a couple of places (in a whole novel) where I would have edited the tense usage, but it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the later book. I can only assume that as authors become more and more famous publishers leave them more and more to their own devices, which isn’t really very sensible, because if Coben was confused about tense use in the first place, the mere process of becoming a best-selling author wasn’t in itself going to sort him out.

I’m not sure whether they hold back on editing out of deference to someone who is making them a lot of money (far more than he is making for himself) or whether they just think they are paying him enough to find a proof reader/copy editor privately.

The fact that there were very few ‘errors’ in construction goes some way towards justifying my theory that he isn’t actually using tense changes for effect. (If he was, I can’t imagine what the intended effect might have been, in either book.)

I will definitely read more by this author, but I am confused by editing policy!! And annoyed that people point the finger at self-published books with the comment that they’re all so badly edited. Not true, and even when they are, they’re no worse than what comes out of the big publishing houses.

Does anyone have any similar stories to tell?

4 thoughts on “The plot’s fine but the sub plot thickens

    • You have, of course, a picky editor – which is an excellent state of affairs!! I think it just shows how necessary editors are. I have a tendency to leave too many spaces or omit them altogether and I’m not sure there’s a cure – other than rigorous editing!!

  1. I find when I submit stuff to WildeOats where it is competently edited that it always vastly improves my story. As you know, getting the story down ‘on paper’ is just half–less than half!–the task. The bit that takes a story from passable to good lies in the editing and rewriting. I enjoy Harlan Coben, but ….

    • I couldn’t agree more – good editors are worth their weight in gold!!

      I love Coben’s plots and characters – I just wish the publishers would spend a little of the gold he must be making them on some editing!!

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