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Friday, October 13, 2017

Celebrate the small things: it is finished?

The final edit of a novel is quite painful mainly because you're working on a manuscript which you thought was already finished when you sent it to your editor. You know it's not finished because your eagle-eyed editor will find errors and inconsistencies, but you think it's finished. You've been through 3 or 4 drafts, incorporated or rejected (ie wrestled with) the feedback from your beta readers. You're pretty happy with it, even knowing that for sure it isn't perfect and it is highly likely that you missed some things.

Then the editor and you have some differences of opinion about grammar usage and the effectiveness of some of your metaphors. They might be the first objective reader to say "that doesn't make sense" or "I don't understand that". They might object to the use of certain words and certain non standard syntax and you might feel you're dealing with someone who doesn't understand your work. Perhaps one who doesn't appreciate it.

Armed with an editor's cut, you first of all go through their proposed changes and necessary corrections. Next you read the whole manuscript out loud in as few sittings as possible. (I found this stage really hard, but it is an absolutely vital step.) You try not to feel dismayed as you uncover more errors, like missing words for example, than the editor did. You feel the flow of the narrative, and wince when said flow is interrupted by a clunky construction or an overly verbose metaphor.

Finally, it is finished...ah no. The final proof will be in your inbox before too long and then you'll have to read it again unless you trust the editor and publisher completely. Are you brave enough to do that when previous books went to press with errors, and not just a few of them?

That's where I'm at with Love Sick Love, my fifth novel which is scheduled for release in November from Rogue Phoenix Press It's a great read by the way, so I'll hope you'll buy it, read it and recommend it to everyone you know.

What projects have you thought were finished only to discover they were not? How did you respond?

10 comments:

  1. Great post! Thanks for sharing.

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  2. I'm an editor by profession, so I've seen this process from both sides of the desk over many years. As an editor, the best authors are those who will put their ego aside and accept advice; but a good editor will never forget that ultimately it's the author's name on the cover and the author's words inside. As a writer, I like to work to a deadline - even a self-imposed one - because then there does come a time when a project is 'finished'. One writer friend gets her Kindle to read aloud to her. Whether this is as effective as reading oneself I couldn't say, but it must be a lot less tiring! Good luck the book.

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    1. Well said Julia. And thank you. Is there a difference between'technical' editing and 'feel editing', or are they kind of the same thing?

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    2. You can edit for the factual stuff: could your hero get a train from Marylebone in London to Manchester? I think not. You can edit for the flow, watching for inconsistencies and loops in the time line that shouldn't be there. You can edit for the mechanics of the thing: the spelling and the grammar and, if appropriate, the house style. I would say these are all aspects of technical editing. I don't know about 'feel editing', but I suspect that if something written doesn't feel right, it will have a technical cause and solution.

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    3. I see. Thanks. That happens to me in the classroom. Something a student has written or said doesn't sound right, and I have to explain why - I am an ESL teacher who teaches adults - but sometimes I can't. I feel like there should be a technical cause and a solution, as you say, but I just can't put my finger on it sometimes. That's part of the reason why I love words and language, I guess.

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  3. First, congrats on getting that far! I'm putting it on my TBR list and can't wait to see it. The edits never seem to end, but then, there always seems to be more to edit. I doubt there would ever be an end to that if we didn't force one. Typos and such always keep popping up (where do they hide?), and words can always be changed to something 'better'. . .or not? Here's hoping this book is as clean as you hope it to be!

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    1. Ha ha you're so right about those hidden typos. I laughed out loud when I read (where do they hide?). Aside from missing words, one thing I really noticed during the out loud read was how often I used the same adjective in a paragraph or a page. Insert suitable synonym and Bob's your uncle! Thanks for your well wishes.
      While I have you, have you had any contact with Lexa. She's been offline for months. Is she okay? Evidently not.

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  4. It does feel like a never-ending process, doesn't it?

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  5. Exactly, but it does end and when it's finished...well you know the feeling.

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