Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Polishing the Manuscript -- attempt II

Last week I started talking about editing my manuscript and never got to finish what I had to say because Jonathan Woods stopped by. So, this week I'm heading back there. The process needs discussing, because there's a lot that can go wrong in the writing and rewriting of a manuscript, and fresh eyes can make the difference between a story that grips the reader and one that, well, doesn't.

By the time you get through the countless rewrites to the "final" version of your manuscript, chances are you've fixed the major gaffs like a character starting out with one name only to have another by the end, logic anomalies, and whatnot, and are left with stuff you don't notice. At this point your content editor will come in handy catching issues like information that should have made it onto the page, but never did.

You can't do it yourself--you're too close.

Your line editor is important, too. They'll catch the embarrassing stuff everyone whose concentration is elsewhere will miss. Misplaced commas can change the entire meaning of a sentence (remember "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves"?), not to mention one letter can change a word completely. I had one character referring to another not as a "good guy" but as a "good buy." Tell me you wouldn't have been rolling on the floor when you read that.

Would that have been Jonathan?

Thea! I wasn't expecting you--and it might have been.

Did Jonathan stop by here and complain to you about Juliet?

Yeah, he did.

I don't know what I'm going to do about him.

He and Juliet don't seem to get along at all.

They don't. And he's sending so many mixed signals to me I don't know what to make of him.

Can I ask you something personal? What got you two together to begin with? He doesn't seem like your type.

My friend Andrea introduced us, and he just pursued me. It was flattering. Besides, he's handsome, works out, likes to go to the theater and concerts. He always knows great places to go, and he really seems to care about me. You know; attentive, polite, relentless--oh, that sounds bad. But it's not like I've ever thought he was "the one." It's nice to have a social life. Why do you ask?

A couple of people asked me. No biggie.

Oh. Well, he really is a nice guy. Really. Just a little overbearing at times. But hey, aren't all men?

You don't have to defend him to me.

I'm not! I mean, I don't need to. It's just that Juliet and he don't get along. Honestly, I don't know what he's so worried about. She's so busy with her own social life she's hardly got time to concern herself with mine. Maybe I'd better go talk to him.

Wouldn't hurt. Then maybe I could continue on with what I started and don't seem to be able to finish because of all the interruptions--just saying. Pass that word around, would you please?

So, where was I…editors. You need them. Don't be tempted to shortcut this step, if you want readers to take you seriously.

Next week: Cover art.

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