LAST MINUTE TWEAKS
We’ve all heard that tired old quote from the NRA’s dear old friend Charlton Heston about “cold dead hands” and some could say the same thing about a manuscript. When it comes to your “precious” (okay, another quote, and don’t make me say which movie), it seems like you can never stop until it’s literally (oh, what a cliché), pried out of your very much alive hands.
I’m going through that right now.
WILL THE EDITING EVER END?
I don’t think I’m revealing any huge trade secrets when I tell you that though my manuscript from Treasure Of The Umbrunna has gone through, not only my own personal multiple edits, tweaks and read-throughs, including with the Henderson Writer’s Group, it’s gone through three (or is it four?) complete edits by my publisher, once I succeeded in actually obtaining said publisher. Whew, I just broke a rule with a very long sentence!
What I can say is through all of that, there hasn’t been a single major change in either story line or plot. I was able to keep true to my polka-dot sewer (my muse) and use my usual – no – my only method of writing. I knew where I wanted to start and where I wanted to end. The rest (the middle) was a total surprise.
BY THIS POINT I’M NO NEWBIE
I must say that by this point in the game, when I wrote Treasure, I was no babe in the woods, cliché intended. I already had ten novels under my belt, even if they were all unpublished. The only one which might have plotting issues would be the first one, The Cave and even that one might be more of a problem with writing functionality rather than plotting.
It all boils down to fixing the numerous writing mistakes, tweaking minor things. Lots of them.
SO MUCH EDITING CAN CREATE MORE MISTAKES
With so much editing, even if the edits are relatively minor, which in my case, they were, making those edits can also create more errors. When all is said and done, a final run-through is essential!
My first edit was for structure and continuity, not so much for grammar. I made several tweaks and in the process, created some grammatical errors (mostly too many noun-verb combinations starting sentences). The second edit was for grammar and I made lots of corrections but in the process also created some other errors. The third edit was to fix the noun-verb combinations I created fixing the other issues. Along the way, the editor found more grammatical tweaks like show not tell and phrasing she thought would work better.
You have to remember that even though I can do the same thing to others, being an editor myself, and can also do it to my own writing in a limited amount (I’m too close to it), I need that outside eye to see it (forest through the trees).
With so much red ink, through multiple edits, when the final draft came down, prior to printing, there were bound to be slip-ups and things we all missed.
True to what I figured, I found pages of errors on my error sheets (there are 25 lines per page). In total, the count came to almost 300 line items.
I now have the last proof before it goes for the first printer galley. This is the time to do as many tweaks as humanly possible.
I want this book to be perfect before any readers get hold of it. Though I strive for perfection, I know deep down I’ll probably miss something. It goes with the territory. The more I catch now, the less I can be embarrassed about later.
This is a difficult process to get right, or as close to right as one can. I’ve read books out there that were essentially perfect. Others looked like they were skimmed over with spell check and the author/publisher/editor(s) didn’t even catch all of the red-lined words!
My publisher is small, right now. I want to do them proud. I’ve seen some of the big ones put out total crap. I want to do much better than that. My goal is for the reader not to be able to tell the difference in editing between my book and one from any of the big houses.
I don’t consider that a lofty goal. It’s just a matter of effort.