Editing is more than just reading through to spot errors in punctuation or grammar, something MS Word can usually do for me if I ask it to. Editing is often going over a document to see what the favorite transition word is of that document. I wrote one where, I swear, I must have used the word “then” two thousand times. One of my edits was focused solely on removing all of the ‘then’s. But I can’t remove them all! Some of them really do belong. It’s a matter of picking and choosing and deciding which ‘then’s get to stay and which have to be transformed into other phrases or just broken apart into two sentences.
Editing is actually quite fun if approached in the right perspective. It’s all about finding a voice for that particular novel, essay, novella or article which fits in with what the message is but also sounds the way the author wants it to sound. Sometimes, I’ll need to read through a sentence and the surrounding paragraph to decide what fix is best. It can be quite a challenge because after about forty pages, I’m normally paying more attention to the story than to the editing!
Perhaps this might give an idea of why it takes so long to accomplish the publication of a novel. I really don’t know why it’s taking me so very long to get Dorian 2 into print. Honestly, it’s been busy for me with college and also with some health issues which needed attending. Then there were household issues and Joey issues and just plain issues relating to the fact that if you spend days staring at a computer screen, a time eventually arrives when you want to do anything that doesn’t involve a computer. Burn out can happen to anyone. So much of life as a student, an author, a bill-payer, a book lover involves me staring at a screen.
For this particular book, Dorian 2, my favorite word was ‘so’. I could not believe how upset it made MS Word to have so many sentences begin with the word ‘so’. Therefore, I went out of my way to minimize how many incidences of that actually occurred. In general, editing for me requires too much attention so I’ll restrict myself to looking for certain things. Taking all the ‘so’s out for one, looking for spelling issues (which MS Word doesn’t always catch), and also making sure that if the character’s eyes are blue at the first page, they’re still blue on the last page! That means, other issues need to be addressed in future read-throughs. I pay attention to gender now. I didn’t used to do that but I do now. When I read new books by other authors (which does happen whenever I can schedule the time), I see these new trends taking place in fiction and how gender and also point of view are handled.
Point of view and perspective are also topics which must be considered. If this paragraph is allegedly coming from the thoughts of a character, does it seem like it does or is it in third person? Just a few changes of words and the placement of pronouns can make it seem more likely to be an internal dialogue and not an author stating instead of describing! Very technical and also something that can get by those who haven’t edited extensively, which was me for a great many years. I hated editing and had to force myself to do it. My way of handling it was to read through the novel and change things as I found them. Not a great strategy and certainly not time-saving, but it helped me to learn how to edit and I admit I practiced for years for I really felt like I had the hang of it. But it does take several read-throughs before I feel confident I’ve found the majority of the errors. I was just rereading Joanna two a few weeks ago to find some bit of character info I’d forgotten and found four mistakes I need to correct in a future edition! Just like trying to get ducks in a row, with so much text, it can be hard to get it all to behave as desired.
I realized while I was working tonight, the TV on mute, Joey asleep in his own bed (Yes. He has his own bed), and a fly buzzing around me that it had been quite a while since I posted anything. I’m still hard at work, editing the evening away. It’s a great way to spend a Thursday night.