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CONTENT EDITING – THE RESULTS

September 17, 2014

For those of you that have never reached this point yet, I have, so I thought I’d give you a blow-by-blow, of sorts.

Last night, Saturday (as I write this), I finished my all-out effort to get this thing done. What might take some authors weeks or even months to complete, I did in a weekend and a half. I wanted to hit it on the weeknights, but I’ve been working overtime so haven’t had a chance to touch it during the week.

THE SOONER THE BETTER

I’ve always had the philosophy that if you’re going to sit around and whine, nothing is going to get done.

I’ve also always had the philosophy that editing is fun, at least most of the time. In this case, while it presented some challenges, I still enjoyed those creative hurdles and rose to them.

Finally, if I ever had a realistic dream of getting this novel published any time soon, it would never happen if I didn’t do my part by getting my work done in a timely manner. The sooner the better!

WHAT DID I GET?

When I received the content edit, I received an e-mail with two files. A clear caveat here: My experience might be entirely different from yours, so don’t expect it to be exactly the same! This is just a possible example!

The first file was the manuscript with all the edits and comments on the side. This was the working file.

The second file was overall comments from the editor, with feelings and suggestions to make the story better.

HOW TO TACKLE IT

As I said in my last article, I had to find a way to organize it so I wasn’t tackling it willy-nilly. As it turned out, by simply following the edits and comments on the main manuscript, it was already organized enough that I was able to follow along with the other comments on the separate file.

Included with the big picture, the editor found the occasional line edit items. I’d make the correction, then highlight it in green and make a comment in the comment box on the side and also highlight that in green. That way, when they’d get it back, they’d know exactly what I did, and why. Of course, that takes time, which can be tedious, the more there is to edit.

Also, as I made those minor corrections, I found other things on my own that I corrected. When I did, I highlighted them in green then added a comment box and of course, highlighted the text in green, even though that comment box often changed color (sometimes red, sometimes blue).

I didn’t necessarily have to do it this way, but I wanted to make it clear to the editor what I’d done. You could do it any way you want, just make sure it’s clear and trackable for the editors.

During the course of the edit, I found a few consistencies they didn’t find. I have certain time and measurement standards that evolved as I went along. I made massive changes to the whole manuscript and used the above technique to highlight those changes. With dozens of them, that took some time!

Now, for the biggies. When I came to issues like believability of the value of the McGuffin (so not to give away the plot), when I came to those major spots, I consulted the notes on the pages of the manuscript plus the comments in the other file. This is where my creativity really came into play. For some of you, it can appear like a daunting task and might seem like a major rewrite. However, by thinking and with only some minor tweaks, I resolved these issues. The thing is that I not only had to tweak at that spot, I also had to follow up with tweaks in several spots later in the story, which meant searching for those places. Sometimes the editor had already found them, but in a couple of cases, it took some scanning and speed reading to find those locations as simple word search wasn’t good enough.

In other cases, there were areas where a section of dialogue needed to be moved to a previous chapter and the current chapter needed to have the first part cut so it could start after the dialogue (one example). By doing this, that meant also tweaking the surrounding narrative or dialogue to make it fit right.

WELL WORTH IT

Is this a lot of work? For me it was a weekend and a half and about 24 hours of actual computer time. For you it might be more or less, depending on what your editor finds. Sure, it’s a lot of work, but I think the story is much better for it, and despite some tedium, I had a lot of fun doing it. I’m quite happy with the result.

What now?

What I expect is another read-through and maybe another set of tweaks before it goes to the line-editor. After making these changes I just did, the content editor may see a few more flaws that weren’t readily visible on first blush. If not, it will go to the line-editor which might mean lots of red ink! Then again, since we caught a lot of that already, it might not be that bad. We’ll see.

I hope this gives you a little insight on what you’ll go through after you sign that contract and actually start the publication process. There’s lots more to go.

Happy writing!

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