Byte Experts: The Dreaded Red Pencil by Caroline Vincent

Posted by Justine Solomons on 25 October 2021, in Byte Experts, News

To an editor, each new manuscript is a journey of discovery. A new writing style, an author who takes you by the hand. You want to dive into the plot and storyline - but then you start to feel an itch only a red pencil can take away...

What are the common ‘mistakes’ (editing is partly subjective, I hasten to add) writers make? Let’s focus on point of view first.

Do you have an omniscient narrator or a first- or third-person narrative? The challenges are there for first-person stories; you have to be consistent and not change perspective along the way. The reader only becomes aware of events at the same moment as your protagonist and perceives these through their eyes. There is no context other than the protagonist’s thoughts, viewpoint, and action.

If you have a third-person narrative, make sure you stay with that protagonist or clearly show (as in a new chapter or with a paragraph break) that you are moving away from them and are now seeing things from someone else’s point of view.

All too often, narratives jump from one person to the other and that confuses the reader but it also makes it difficult for them to empathise with the protagonist, to fall in love with your character. Thus, they are less involved in what happens to protagonists.

Another crucial mistake is the over-explaining of emotions, actions, and situations. When you write, ‘he rolled his eyes,’ we all know what emotions are going through that character at that time. To have it explained, makes the reader roll their eyes in return but even worse, it blocks the imagination.

A book is not a film and for your readership to become invested in your story, your characters, you have to give them the freedom to create and use their own imagination while reading your book. That makes for a satisfying read and enhances the reading experience. That is what turns a novel – your novel - into a success.


Caroline Vincent is a writer editor and publishing consultant.

Caroline is passionate about empowering creative entrepreneurs.

“I'm absolutely blown away - what a fantastic and thoroughly professional editing job you have done. My only disappointment is that I did not find you early on in my writing career.” Michael K. Foster, author

You write the manuscript and focus on what you do best – Caroline will take care of the rest. She offers the complete package for your hassle-free road to publication and beyond, including editing, formatting, book covers, website design and social media management.

As an editor, Caroline works with (independently) published established and emerging authors, and offers professional writing services, including (copy-)editing, manuscript feedback, consultation and (re)writing articles, web content and more on request.

In addition to her author services, Caroline is available for panel moderation and author interview sessions, be it online or in person. How could one not love the discussion of literature? Contact Caroline at



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