I have learned some editing lessons in the last week.  Three, in fact:

  • When they say ‘Don’t edit your own work’ … they’re right. I have read over Fatal Score at least ten times. During those readings,I ignored at least two dozen obvious mistakes.  My copy editor missed them, as well (though at least some were probably caused by just-have-to-do-it tweaks post copyedit).  These are not grammatical shadings, but duplicated words, mixed tenses and the like.  The main problem is that first draft was first person/present tense.  I changed to third person/past tense several rewrites ago.  I didn’t execute all the tense changes correctly.
  • Grammar checkers check only grammar, not the abovementioned stupidities. I know that’s a tautology, but (for me) a painful one.
  • If you employ a copy editor, make sure you mention that you expect a serious reading of the material, not a cruise-through by Word or Grammerly.

I am indebted to early readers of the book, who have pointed out obvious problems. (Ned Froelich, your careful reading is far beyond the call of ARC reader duty.) The good news is Print on Demand allows for changes.

POD does not assuage authorial mortification.

Technique, again

I am taking a look yet again at my first novel, Fatal Score (initially called Hack the Yak), which I am preparing to query. I asked an editor to look at the first three chapters.  The results were eye-opening.

When I began writing, I used interior monolog (protagonist’s thoughts), which I laid down in italics.  The editor would have none of that.

I’ve mentioned before that the Big Duh I’ve learned by writing, now, three novels:  there is this thing called technique.  The writer needs that ineffable quality known as Voice, to be sure.  And Mechanics (grammar, lexical sophistication, punctuation) must be spot-on or
any self-respecting agent will trash the ms without reading it.  The Big Duh was this thing I call Technique.  Frustrating, is technique (in Yoda’s words).  Some parts are common sense (when they become obvious), like letting a reader know where she is, who is speaking and what time it is at the beginning of a scene.  Some parts seem like a random variable extending over time.  Nineteenth-century technique (never mind punctuation) is different than twenty-first century for no apparent reason.  Eighteenth century writing embraced long, Latinate words; Hemingway didn’t.

So, I live and continue to learn.

And, yes, I dumped most of the italics.