First round of editing:
-I eliminate all characters that are not indispensable to the story (this causes me great pain)
Second round of editing:
Now that everything is (more or less) where it should be…
-I add a sense of place. I make sure that every new scene includes at least a few clues describing the setting. I remember to include smell and sound in my descriptions.
-I build feelings and add clues that the reader will pick up on the way. I love when a plot twist catches me by surprise, but the second time I read the book I see all the red flags that I did not notice in my excited state of mind, just like in real life
Following rounds of editing:
-Look at autocorrect, but don’t trust it over your knowledge! Check any underlined words. If you are unsure double check. You can google grammar rules and spelling. Don’t accept corrections blindly and do not ignore suggestions.
-Sometimes I have a program read the book to me. I only do this for certain paragraphs. I tend to read the way I know a sentence should be read, which is not helpful. On scrivener you can select any section of your book, right click, select speech and start speaking. It will read that portion out to you and if it sounds awkward you can adjust your punctuation.
-Check the “rhythm” of your narration. To read well prose must mix short and long sentences. Most people have a natural “ear” for the rhythm of narration but if you are unsure you can check yourself. For my first book I used a simple program called My Word Count. I paid around $14 to download it. It looks primitive, but it analyzes sentence patterns. For a manuscript to read well, in most cases, you need short sentences intercalated with long ones and you might want to avoid sentences that are too long. This program will find them for you. The program can also scan your manuscript and find words you repeated several times so that you can change them.
Once I have my “final draft”…
-I read my book, chapter by chapter, to my writers group. Meeting once a week one or two chapters a week this takes me around six months
-I send the book out to beta readers. It was difficult to find beta readers for my first book (beyond my mom, my husband, and my BFF), but eventually I found readers on Tumblr who came through. For any following novel it’s been a piece of cake. Readers addicted to the series love to get the book early (and for free!) in exchange for feedback.
-I read the book out loud, all within a few days. Don’t push yourself too hard; if you are tired this become a moot exercise as you will not see (nor hear) mistakes. I personally record myself and make audiobooks out of my novels. This forces me to read slow, interpret the story, and listen to it several times…excellent for proofing!
-When I think every single last typo has been weeded out, I send the book to my proofer. This is normally what comes back:
You can hire professionals to edit and proof your book. Their wage will go anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousands. I did not have the budget to do that and my first book went out with quite a few typos (at least five that I know of and corrected later) but since I am writing a series I found an excellent volunteer to proof my novels in exchange for an advance copy.
-Find out if you need professional editing. Most editing companies online will edit a sample for free. Does it come back butchered? If yes, you might want to consider professional help editing your manuscript.
-If you think you are done editing and your book is ready, let your book sit for one or two months, move on to the next project, then read it again. Don’t make that face. You’re a writer, that’s what you do. Yes, you wrote that c*rp. Start again from point one. If instead you find your book enthralling, funny, moving, original, if you can’t wait to shout every word out loud to the entire world…maybe your book is done!
Sneaky typos that autocorrect will not pick up and you need to slaughter “en masse”:
-Then and than, Where and were, Run and ran, hung and hang, lose and loose…
Lay and lie:
Lay needs an object—something being laid—while lie cannot have an object. For example, like Bon Jovi said, you might lay your hands on me. But after a whole day of writing you might feel the need to lie down. But you can’t lie your hands anywhere, and you can’t lay down (no object).
LAY (your hands on me) in the past is LAID, LAID (LAYING)
LIE (down to rest) in the past is LAY, LAY (LYING)
Yeah, I know, I just saved your life, again ;)
Who am I to give you advice?
I am a strange introverted being who lives more on paper than not. I occasionally compensate by undertaking major adventures across the globe. I authored The Italian Saga (#TIS): an indie series of YA novels taking place in gorgeous Italy (where I was born and raised), and talking about everything I was told is impolite to talk about. You can check them out here :)