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??
Apparently, I like to begin a lot of sentences with "but" and "and". When I finish with edits, I highlight those and then figure out if I should keep it as is, add it to the previous sentence, or get rid of it. If I try to do it while editing, I lose my focus for some reason and miss more important stuff.
Oh yes - that's definitely a good one. Starting with "and" or "but" can be really effective - but also overused.Delete
I have a problem with "just" and other filler words, especially in first person. When I write in first person I tend to get very conversational and it can be hard for me to step back and tell what works for the character's voice and what's crossing the line into too much.ReplyDelete
Interesting insight, Sonya. I wonder if that's it - the more conversational the writing voice, the easier to succumb to conversational tics.Delete
I've critiqued and edited a lot of manuscripts (doing one now, as a matter of fact) and that "actions as dialogue tags" is a biggie for me. It just doesn't make logical sense! I've looked for some official rule or explanation of this but this is the first time I've seen anything to that effect. Thanks for pointing it out; maybe it will stick!ReplyDelete
My overused words: Of course, well, suddenly. And my characters "smile" and "grin" like idiots. Characters saying each others' names. Too many exclamation marks. Fortunately, I learned about "toward" during a college yearbook editing workshop and I've never ever used "towards".
I confess I still love "towards." That's why I still use it and then edit it out if that's house style. And alas for all the smiling and grinning!Delete
"Back" is one of my biggest foes. People walk back into the room, look back over their shoulders, put things back on the table, take a step back, back up, go back to the beginning, and answer back. This is my third book with Alison, so I'm hoping I got "back" into a manageable number before she saw it. "Up" does the same thing, but not to as great an extent.ReplyDelete
Oddly, one of the most overused words in book one before we fixed it was "bony." Seriously. Bony? Also, people were constantly wrinkling and crinkling their faces.
This is why we need editors.
SO true, Rachel! One of my CPs has the "back" thing - too funny. I love that "bony" was overused though!Delete
I use xxx as a placeholder and have to search for that. Otherwise, I have to watch out for head nodding and shaking. My characters are like bobbleheads in the first draft.ReplyDelete
lol - I hear you on the nodding. Happy little bobbleheads!Delete
It fascinates me how much you writers have to think about and pay attention to. You don't just sit down and whip out a story. I am glad you guys do the writing and I just read. :)ReplyDelete
Well, to be fair, we often DO just whip out a story. And then we go back and fix it. :DDelete
Thanks. This is very informativeReplyDelete
Glad to hear it, Sullivan!Delete
Those all make sense. When I beta and notice a certain word being used I will highlight it and say search for this word! I will start searching for now and just too!ReplyDelete
Faucets of Passion." I picture a cover of a woman with a hot and cold tap where her breasts should be .
omg - that is the PERFECT cover! now I just need to write it...Delete
It would fit nicely into the Bizarro genreDelete
Great post, Jeffe! Sometimes I have to remind myself to go back through and find those little things. (Except I don't use brackets, I use red text - harder to use Word to search for, but easier for my eyes to focus on when scanning through.)ReplyDelete
Yeah, sometimes I highlight, but I've found it's easier to search these days. I just have to be consistent, yanno?Delete