Friday, February 14, 2014

Editing and Proofing

From first word to final publication (Part 3)

Once I’ve finished the Big Rewrite, I’m almost done (or at least it feels that way.)  My third pass through the story takes a lot less time (about two weeks as opposed to around two months) but that doesn’t make it any less important.

Again I’m doing a number of things at one time.  I’m trying to tighten up my story by getting rid of extraneous description that doesn’t add anything, finding ways to get the same information across in fewer words and make the writing leaner, crisper.

At the same time, I need to make sure I don’t cut out what has to be there to make what’s happening clear.  And I’m looking for places where a crucial bit is missing.  If two characters were talking in a restaurant and now they’re conversing in the back of a cab, it’s important to show them leaving the one and entering the other.  I may have known what they were doing when I was writing the story, but if I don’t show it, it could certainly be confusing.    I’m also examining my word choices to make sure they convey the right meanings, connotations and atmosphere.  Specifically with dialogue, I want it to reflect the character of the person who’s talking.

That doesn’t mean I meditate over every individual word.  As I read through the story, I rely on a little niggle to attract my attention to something that’s not quite right, to make me stop and look to see what needs to be changed.  Once I’ve fixed whatever it is, then I can back up and continue on.

While I’m working on all these issues revolving around my use of words and language to try and improve the writing, I also keep my eyes peeled for typos, misspellings, improper punctuation and bad grammar.  And correct any mistakes I find.

Once I’ve completed this third time through my story, hopefully everything is just right and error-free (but it never is.)  It’s tempting to go through the story again (and again) looking for ways to improve it further.  But everything can always be improved.  At some point there’s a diminishing return for all the effort you put in – and for me, this is that point.  Almost.

Now is the time when I lay out the text of the story as it will appear in book form and order a proof copy, so that the (preliminary) final version of the story can be proofread.  So far there have always been things pointed out that I missed, though not many.  A handful of typos and usually a small issue or two I have to address before I have a finally final version of the story that’s ready for you, the reader.

But all this really only deals with the actual text of the story itself – there’s far more to a book than just that.  Publishing independently, I have to see to those details as well.  And the most important detail of all (aside from the story itself) is the front cover.

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