Last week, my editor, the fabulous Deb Nemeth, and I finished up the copy edits on Ruby, the third book in my Facets of Passion series. (Amusingly, I tried to link to the series on Amazon, instead of just book 2, which I ended up doing. When I searched, Amazon asked me if I meant "Faucets of Passion." I'm totally writing that next!
At any rate, all the editing for Ruby went really fast, which was particularly great because we did them over the winter holidays, to meet a sale date four months earlier than expected. However, they also went faster because I've gotten smarter.
This is the fourth publication I've done with Deb. I know by now what she looks for and I've - gasp! - started fixing them before she asks me to. I actually created a checklist for my final polish before I send something back to her, to remind myself of my common errors.
So, that's why I suggested this week's topic of what kinds of final checks we all make before sending a manuscript. I'm really interested to hear what everyone else does. (And may add to my own list.)
- Search for [ ]
While I'm writing along, if I can't think of a word, want to check the brand name, need to check the previous book, etc. - basically anything that would halt the writing flow - I put it in square brackets as a placeholder. Sometimes I forget about them. My CPs usually catch them, but they shouldn't have to.
- Search for “now”
- Search for “just”
"Now" and "just" are my usual verbal tics. I use them ALL THE TIME. It drives me crazy. I don't even know I'm doing it. Most of them can just (see???) be deleted. Sometimes I have to restructure. I leave some in, but not fifty-million.
- Replace towards with toward
This is a Carina Press house rule. For some reason I'm addicted to towards, which is apparently more British. I fix them as a last step.
- Search for endearment of the day
Another of my tics. I have a name-thing. Most of my stories play with names and what people call each other. I don't know why I have this - I don't plan it out at all. But it ends up being fundamental to the characters and their interaction and sometimes their transformation. But I overdo it and Deb is forever asking me to reel it back.
- Search for actions as dialogue tags.
Another Carina house rule, but that's probably good for me to learn. An example would be: "No," he picked up the chicken and threw it at her, "I won't cook you dinner!" I tend to construct this way. It would change to: "No!" He picked up the chicken and threw it at her. "I won't cook you dinner."
(I feel like I should caveat that the above example is not an actual line from Ruby, or from anything else I would ever write. Chickens are not for hurting.)
- Search for overused dialogue tags.
Deb always reminds me that "said" and "asked" are just fine and are nearly invisible to the reader. I have to go through and remove a certain percentage of my livelier tags and tone it down a bit.So, there's my dirty editing laundry! What does everyone else do??