Is there anything that makes you discard a book? Bad writing, grammar mistakes, poor characterizations, bad punctuation, language use (whether swearing or discrimination), or something else?
I have read several novels that needed quite a lot of editing but persevered as the stories were interesting. I had to switch off my editor hat though. For example, one novel had two characters that interacted but three quarters of the way through the book one main character’s name changed! I think the author/editor changed the name, for whatever reason but didn’t get all the way through the book. (Now that’s just lazy). It was very confusing as I had to go back and determine that is what happened. Unfortunately, this kind of lack of editing reflects badly on the author and readers may not read anything else they write.
Would that make you discard the book?
Another novel had lots of punctuation and grammatical mistakes and the old fashioned ‘double space’ between sentences, which went out of fashion with the typewriter age! Although, it was frustrating to me, I did persevere with the book as the story and its characters were captivating.
A good editor is worth their weight in gold. They not only fix your grammar and find and correct major and minor errors , but also improve your book’s content and structure in a way that preserves your style. There are two main processes a manuscript has to go through prior to publication. Both require a systematic approach.
Use these as a guideline to edit and proofread your manuscript before sending it to an editor. Expect a red-lined manuscript back and learn from the experience.
This process concentrates on:
Paragraph structure and clear transitions between paragraphs.There is a flow of the story – whether character development or plot.
Highlighting any repetition of words, sentence structure, and the correct use of any technical, historical or factual elements.
Helps to condense and improve the efficiency of your writing.
Questions your flow of the narrative.
A more focused approach to find common errors and the ones missed during editing. Here are a couple of tips to help you:
Read the manuscript out loud or divide it into sections. TIP Read from last chapter to first.
Rewrite structure if required, such as plot, story line, consistency and continuity. TIP Create a general outline 1 – 3 pages maximum to track the story line.
Scene outline. Read each scene to determine if they require editing or deletion TIP Do they push the story forward? If not delete them. TIP Create a check list for each step of proofreading. Then concentrate on that particular one at a time.
Print out your manuscript – it may seem odd to do this in the computer age but we perceive information differently between screen and paper. TIP Read it out loud. On hearing the flow of the language you will understand your strong and weak points.
TIP from the King!
We can be too wordy in our writing, Stephen King learned: “2nd Draft = 1st draft – 10%”. An average manuscript requires at least three rounds of editing and at each round try to shorten your draft for 10% of its original length.
Linear Edit. This is the point you deal with the minor issues such as rewriting sentences, exchanging with words, and fix grammar, punctuation, proofread for misspellings and typos.
Do you have a particular system or tip you use while editing & proofreading?
I have read about one author who prints the manuscript on different coloured paper for each step but this seems a bit excessive!
Two weeks ago saw me return to the work office, it was rather anxiety giving but once I had moved my desk to increase distance, cleaned it with disinfectant and posted signs all over the place – I calmed down a little. It is symptomatic of how many people must feel returning to their workplace. We have been in a safe bubble remotely working from home. Then to be plunged back into an environment, which prior to COVID19 was normal and we didn’t give it a second thought about. Now there are people from other households with differing levels of ‘safety’ protocols. I am taking extra care and will continue to do so. The second wave will come…unfortunately.
It is an adjustment for everyone and we will need time to settle into routine again. In the meantime, I am continuing to read some great novels and edit other author’s work. For some reason my own steampunk manuscript has lacked attention. I need to get back to it. There is the new distraction, of course – Sammie the Schnoodle – and a sharp increase in my step count. Currently I am walking between 10K – 12K a day. So health benefits – yay!
Here she is after her first grooming appointment – a different dog entirely.
Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Read
Really enjoyed the parallel lives of Hannah. It is similar to Sliding Doors but not if you get my drift. Great alternatives lives and how one choice can change everything.
Loved the characters, particularly Henry!
If you could see the results of your choices – would you want to know?
Typically, I write my entire first draft without getting feedback, with the “door closed,” a la Stephen King. For me this draft is a flow of words as the story plays like a movie in my head. Yep, madness rules when a story grips me.
However, for the past few months, I did not look at my current manuscript. It was although, I had lost interest. Although, I read, edited and commented on other author’s works, mine was left desolate. As the COVID19 months passed, I became worried that the writing bug had left me. I felt bereft. I didn’t mean to stop writing.
Has that ever happened for you?
There are lots of reasons that our creativity, in whatever form, can be cast aside or forgotten. Illness, a new baby, a new relationship, a new home or job, divorce, financial stress and many more. To find that creative spark again, we can use one or more of the following:
1. Firstly, do not feel guilty – it is counterproductive and harassing your muse is a form of procrastination.
2. Start writing – use a prompt, do a character study, write out a story idea.
3. Keep Writing – give yourself a time limit 20 minutes or an hour, or write a page, or 250 words. Choose one and stick to it.
4. Finish a small project.
5. Talk to fellow authors.
6. Change the location of where you write – it can even be in a different room or somewhere local like your library.
7. Take a writing class.
8. Do another creative activity.
9. Make up book titles – based on well known novels or use a title generator on the internet.
10. Create a character description – including all their back story.
For me the spark came back after a discussion on strong female characters and how to make their role believable. It ignited that interest again and I spent the past weekend editing and polishing my steampunk heroine’s character. This writer is back!
Yesterday was Women’s Fiction Day. As a woman who reads a wide variety of genres, I hope this ‘day’ is inclusive to all genres not just ‘romance’. It is quite a generalization and one that should be regarded with a pinch of salt.
Of course, we all love to read an idealized narrative with a happy ending but we are more than that. Women have interests that cover a broad spectrum of story lines and types. Gone are the days when the genteel sex was restricted to poetry and light reading. (Thank goodness).
We read thrillers, sci-fi, detective novels and mysteries to name a few. Our reading habits have changed as well as our interests and the scope of our capabilities.
So celebrate our diversity in the written word – no matter the genre.