Friday, September 26, 2014

The Editor’s Desk—A No-nonsense Approach to Non-Fiction

by Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2

Welcome to the Editor's Desk.
Welcome to The Editor’s Desk—A No-nonsense Approach to Non-fiction. On the last Friday of every month, I look forward to sharing some nuts and bolts about non-fiction writing. This month’s post is the first in a series called “How to Drive an Editor Crazy.” I write from the perspective of a print magazine editor, but whatever your target publication, the tips I share will help you submit polished, professional work so you DON’T drive your editor crazy.

How to Drive an Editor Crazy

To drive an editor crazy, paraphrase Bible verses.
Paraphrase Bible verses.
This is true confession time, friends. A book editor once threatened me with death and dismemberment when she double-checked the Scripture references in one of my devotional books and discovered I’d used the LHV (Lori Hatcher Version) of the Bible. Because I’d depended on  my memory, which was a mishmash of the King James, New International, and Holman Christian Study versions, there was no way she could check my Scripture references for accuracy in punctuation and quotation. My carelessness and laziness caused her hours of extra work and slowed down the editing process considerably.

After a humiliating time of confession, repentance, and restitution (I sent her Trader Joe’s Chocolate Covered Almonds with Sea Salt and Caramel Cashew cookies by overnight mail), I had learned a valuable lesson. When quoting Scripture, choose a translation, then copy and paste EVERY Bible verse, with its appropriate reference, from your Bible software into your article. Even if it’s John 3:16, don’t rely on your memory.

To drive an editor crazy, lowercase the word Bible.
Lowercase the word Bible.
I’m always a tiny bit shocked when a writer fails to capitalize the B in Bible. Whether you revere or believe in the Bible is not the issue that determines this rule. All style manuals require a writer to capitalize any holy book, whether you’re citing the Qur’an, the Talmud, or the Bible. You should also capitalize common epithets for the Bible such as the Word and Scripture, but not adjectives indicating the Bible, like biblical or scriptural.

There are many rules governing the correct way to quote Scripture, capitalize books and parts of the Bible, and handle religious terminology. The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style is my go-to resource to keep it straight. It’s helpful, user-friendly, and relatively inexpensive. Whatever resource you choose, remember—NEVER quote a Bible verse from memory or fail to capitalize the Bible. If you do, you’ll drive your editor crazy.

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Lori Hatcher is the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine and the author of two devotional books, Joy in the Journey, Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms and Hungry for God…Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women (releasing Nov. 1). A blogger and women’s ministry speaker, her goal is to help women connect with God in the craziness of life. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God…Starving for Time. Connect with her on Twitter at @LoriHatcher2 or on Facebook - Hungry for God, Starving for Time.


  1. Great info, Lori. Can't tell you how many times I've edited books for authors who used their own mish-mash of Scripture. It takes a lot of extra time to check ... and correct ... those Scriptures.

    1. Rest assured, Andrea, if you ever get a hold of one of my manuscripts, you WON'T have to correct the Scripture references. That was a painful lesson, but one well-learned :)