Tag Archives: self-editing

Self-editing: The Point of No Return #amwriting

Misfortune and struggle create opportunities for growth. We place obstacles in our protagonists’ paths that will force change on them. Crises, even small ones on the most personal of levels, are the fertile ground from which adventure springs.

In the editing process, we must ensure these opportunities are clearly defined, logical, and in the right place.

Most disasters are preceded by one or more points of no return.

Consider the engineering that goes into building and maintaining a dam.

Wikipedia says:

Dams are considered “installations containing dangerous forces” under International humanitarian law due to the massive impact of a possible destruction on the civilian population and the environment. Dam failures are comparatively rare, but can cause immense damage and loss of life when they occur. In 1975 the failure of the Banqiao Reservoir Dam and other dams in Henan Province, China caused more casualties than any other dam failure in history. The disaster killed an estimated 171,000 people and 11 million people lost their homes. [1]

When a mistake is made in the planning or construction process of a dam, it sets a chain of events into motion.

There are usually opportunities to notice the problem and resolve it long before the dam breaks, but despite the diligence of the engineers, the construction workers, and the maintenance personnel, the flaw may go unseen, and everyone is at risk.

Once the river begins flooding, the workers and people living downstream are faced with an event from which there is no turning back.

We must identify this plot point and make it subtly clear to the reader. Knowing the flaw is there, and seeing the workers unaware of it ratchets up the tension. The moment cracks appear in the dam, you have placed the protagonist at maximum risk.

Many times, in my real life, I’ve been boxed into a corner, frantically dealing with things I could have avoided, had I noticed the cracks in the metaphoric dam. When you look at history, humanity seems hardwired to ignore the “turn back now” signs.

In every novel, a point of no return, large or small, comes into play. The protagonists are in danger of losing everything because they didn’t recognize the warning signs, and they are pushed to the final confrontation, whether they are ready for it or not.

Arcs of action drive the plot. Sometimes that action is a chain of seemingly unconnected events. The first event is a catalyst, setting in motion the small events that follow. Each incident progressively forces the protagonist and their companions to a meeting with destiny.

In the editing process, we want to make sure the events are in a logical order, and that they serve the purpose of forcing the protagonist down the path we have chosen for them. Also, we want the reader to say, “Now I see the connections.”

Points of no return aren’t always large disasters. Events can force the protagonist to a confrontation with himself.

Perhaps a family is forced to deal with long-simmering problems.

Events from which there is no turning back are the impetus of change, and that change is what the book is about.

Midpoint is often a place where a choice is made from which there is no turning back. From that point, the narrative rises to the Third Plot Point, an event that is either an actual death or a symbolic death.

This major event forces the protagonist to be greater than they believed they could be. Conversely, it can break them down to their component parts.

Either way, the protagonist is profoundly changed by this crisis.

The structure of the story must be closely examined in the process of self-editing to ensure the logic of the plot.

During the build-up to the final point of no return, we want to ensure these events develop our characters’ strengths, so they are ready to face the final crisis.

Structural editors identify both the protagonist’s goals and those of the antagonist early on. They look at the arc of the story to make sure the author shows why these goals are important and why they justify the struggle that will ensue.

  • How does the protagonist react to being thwarted in his efforts?
  • How does the antagonist currently control the situation?
  • How does the protagonist react to pressure from the antagonist?
  • How does the struggle deepen the relationships between the protagonist and their companions or romantic interest?
  • What complications arise from a lack of information regarding the conflict?
  • How will the characters acquire that necessary information?

Obstacles in the protagonist’s path to happiness make for satisfying conclusions, no matter what genre you’re writing in. Whenever the protagonist overcomes an obstruction, the reader is rewarded with a feeling of satisfaction. That reward keeps the reader turning pages.

I love books that allow us to get to know the characters, see them in their environment. An incident happens, thrusting the hero down the road to the Lonely Mountain, or trying to head off a war.

In The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien set the first point of no return early. An acquaintance, Gandalf the Wizard, invited himself and twelve friends to dinner at Bilbo’s house, knowing that politeness would compel the hobbit to feed them.

The next day Bilbo found himself walking to the Misty Mountains with a group of Dwarves he only just met, leaving home with nothing but the clothes on his back.

By serving dinner to the unexpected guests, Bilbo passed the first point of no return. He heard the stories and listened to their songs. After having seen the map, even if he were to turn back and stay home, Bilbo would have been forever changed by regret for what he didn’t have the courage to do.


Credits and attributions:

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Dam failure,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Dam_failure&oldid=943367090 (accessed March 3, 2020).

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Alfred Zoff – A River Dam.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Alfred_Zoff_-_A_River_Dam.jpg&oldid=283453136 (accessed March 3, 2020).

The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey, Theatrical release poster, Warner Bros. 2012 (Fair Use).

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Self-editing: Action, Events, and Introspection #amwriting

If you are a member of any writers’ forum on Facebook or through a private group, you know that today’s authors are constantly prodded to emphasize the action in their narratives. For new, inexperienced authors, this can lead to an imbalance, a narrative where the characters aren’t allowed time for introspection.

An editor looks at the scenes to see how they fit into the narrative and to ensure they are in the right order and flow into each other well.

Sometimes, I see a manuscript where it seems as if a horrific event has been inserted for the sake of shock value. In the revision process, you should examine these scenes to see if they do their job.

  • Was the event foreshadowed well, or did it come out of nowhere?
  • Is the scene necessary to force change and growth on the protagonist?
  • How are her fundamental ethics and ideals challenged by this event?

A structural editor will tell you that if there is no personal cost or benefit to the protagonist or antagonist, there is no need for that scene.

Writing these blind alleys is not a waste of time. You never know when you will need those ideas, so don’t throw them away—always keep the things you cut in a separate file. The fact that an idea doesn’t work for one book doesn’t mean it won’t work in another.

For my own work, I label that file “outtakes.” Having these unused scenes ready to adapt to other uses comes in handy when I need an idea to jump-start a new story.

In the rush of writing the first draft, it can be easy to focus on setting traps and roadblocks for our protagonist and her nemesis. We forget that readers need a chance to process what we have written.

Events must force the character to grow. Creepy scenes must have a purpose. If your story absolutely must contain that scene, it must deeply affect the characters involved in it. Events must be catalysts for the character’s evolution and growth.

We may think we have written evolving characters, but they remain stagnant if you don’t allow the reader time to see that evolution and process it.

We’re all avid readers. Consider how your favorite authors in these genres connect their underlying themes with the action and growth of their protagonists, and how they allow the reader to process each event.

Political thrillers are set against the backdrop of a political power struggle. They feature political corruption, terrorism, and warfare as common themes. How the protagonist negotiates these situations and is affected by them is the story. Introspection is key to the reader’s understanding of the events and their root cause.

Romance Novels detail the developing relationship between two people and show how they overcome the roadblocks to happiness. Both the conflict and climax of the novel are directly related to the core theme of a romantic relationship with a happy conclusion. Without small chances for introspection, the reader won’t feel connected to the protagonist and their story.

Literary fiction focuses on the protagonist of the narrative. This genre features introspective, in-depth studies of complex, fully developed characters. Action and setting are not the points here, although they frame the character and provide a visual perspective. In other words, opportunities for introspection are a key feature of literary fiction.

Science Fiction details realistic speculation about possible future events. All technology should be based solidly on knowledge of real world science, both past and present. A thorough understanding of the nature and significance of the Scientific Method is crucial. Events involving science and technology must be based on known and theoretically possible physics. Morality and the wider effects of  the choices we make are a strong theme in all science fiction. Without introspection, moral choices get lost.

Fantasy is my usual genre to write in. It is often set in an alternate, medieval, or ancient world. The common themes are good vs. evil, the hero’s journey, coming of age, morality, romantic love. Some fantasy is set in urban settings with paranormal tropes, but if that is the case, the author has similar constraints to those affecting the science fiction author. In urban fantasy, the reality must be true to life and contrast with the paranormal. This contrast highlights and emphasizes the fantasy elements.

These genres look widely different, but they all have one thing in common—they have protagonists and side characters who experience life-changing events. These moments become important to the reader.

In my mind, genre and setting are a picture-frame, a backdrop against which the themes that drive the action of the story are played out.

What is the underlying theme of your story? While you were laying down the first draft, did you notice a moral concept that was woven into the story? Was it love? Was it destiny? Was it the death of hope?

In the revision and editing process, we must identify the events that strengthen that theme, and frame them with moments of reflection.

Personal growth and the hero’s journey are often the central themes in my work. Those are the stories that hooked me as a young reader, and I still gravitate to them.

The idea of the heroic journey was first introduced by Joseph Campbell, the American mythologist, writer, and lecturer, in The Hero with a Thousand Faces (published in 1949). In this ground-breaking work, he discusses the monomyth or what is called “the hero’s journey.”

He describes how this motif is historically the common pattern of humanity’s myths and legends. Each of these tales involves an unlikely hero going on an adventure. This hero, in a decisive crisis, wins a victory, then returns home changed or transformed.

I often use Tolkien’s masterpiece, The Hobbit as an example. When Bilbo Baggins faces the giant spiders, he also faces his own cowardice. Bilbo is amazed to find he has the courage to fight them.

That scene was the first step in his realization that his bravery doesn’t depend on the magic ring he found earlier. He is afraid, but he is not afraid to be courageous. This is a core concept of this book, and of the entire Lord of the Rings series.

What is important to you? When you look for a book, what catches your interest? When you look at it from a distance, what do all the stories you love best have in common?

Those are the themes you should be writing to, what your events must support. You must allow your reader the chance to consider how those events affect the protagonist, to absorb the theme and deeper personal meaning of that character’s journey.

In that way, you will hook the reader and keep them firmly in your world.

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Self-Editing: Looking at Paragraphs and Sentence Length

I was recently asked how long sentences should be. There is no hard and fast rule, but opinions abound, so I will offer you some things to be considered in the editing process.

Let me say first that sentence length is a matter of the author’s personal style. Some of us write long sentences strung together with commas, and others break things out into shorter, more concise packets of information.

If you are familiar with the rules of punctuation and use your commas wisely, longer sentences will flow well.

If you’re unsure of how to use commas, and simply put them anywhere you pause, or take a breath, you’ll have a long, convoluted mess on your hands, similar to this sentence.

In writing genre work, we consider the age and reading experience of our intended reader. Generally speaking, for younger readers, we use shorter sentences and a narrower vocabulary.

For older readers who read in a wide variety of genres, compound sentences and a wide vocabulary pose no problems.

In the final chapter of his novel, Ulysses,  James Joyce enters the head of Molly Bloom. He spews an internal dialogue that runs on for more than 24,000 words with only ONE punctuation mark. The final paragraph of the book goes like this:

“…I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. “

As a side note, I had to take a college class in order to read and enjoy James Joyce’s work. Most of us hope our work won’t require a reader to take a college-level course to appreciate it.

Sentence length becomes problematic for most readers when:

  • The sentence contains numerous clauses
  • The clauses are unrelated.
  • The sentence runs on and on and on.
  • The author uses little or no punctuation.

Several factors affect sentence length. Commas and the fundamental rules for their use exist for a reason. If we want the reading public to understand our work, we need to follow them.

Commas join two independent clauses. The independent clause is a complete stand-alone sentence. Sometimes, if sentences are too short, our work becomes choppy.

  • Greg worships the ground I walk on. His adoration never tires me. (Two sentences)
  • Greg worships the ground I walk on, and his adoration never tires me. (One compound sentence)

Dependent clauses are unfinished sentences and can’t stand on their own. They should be joined to the sentence with a conjunction.

  • Greg worships the ground I walk on and brings me my coffee.

You do not join unrelated independent clauses (clauses that can stand alone as separate sentences) with commas as that creates a rift in the space/time continuum: the Dreaded Comma Splice:

Comma Splice: Greg kissed the hem of my garment, the dog likes to ride shotgun.

The dog has little to do with Greg, other than the fact they both adore me. The same thought, written correctly:

  • Greg kissed the hem of my garment.
  • (New paragraph) The dog likes to ride shotgun.

Would it be better if we used a semicolon? No. A semicolon in an untrained hand is a needle to the eye of an editor.

The dog riding shotgun is an independent clause and does not relate at all to Greg and his adoration of me.

Semicolons join independent clauses that could stand alone, but which relate to each other.

I recommend you avoid joining more than two clauses. Even when an author uses semicolons correctly, they can create some lo-o-o-o-ong, run-on sentences. Sentences comprised of more than twenty to thirty words can be difficult to slog through.

Sentences all become paragraphs, whether they are comprised of one sentence or several.

Paragraphs are not just short blocks of randomly assembled sentences. A paragraph is a group of sentences that fleshes out a single idea. That means that only one thought or speaker is featured in each paragraph.

The rules are simple:

  • Present a single idea per paragraph.
  • Present the dialogue and reactions of only one person per paragraph.
  • Present the viewpoint of one character per paragraph.

All through her book, Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones wrote two points of view into one paragraph. The story is brilliant, but that habit made the dialogue very difficult to follow in some places.

A paragraph done wrong:

Ron said, “You cheated on me.” Jamie clutched his arm. “I don’t want to lose you.” He pulled away. “You disgust me.”

That’s a confusing passage, but it doesn’t have to be. Three ideas are explored there: Ron’s accusation, Jamie’s guilt and fear of losing him, and finally, Ron’s disgust.

Ron said, “You cheated on me.”

Jamie clutched his arm. “I don’t want to lose you.”

He pulled away. “You disgust me.”

While it makes for short paragraphs, you must break out Jamie’s reaction. One thought, one point of view per paragraph, no matter how short that makes it.

In English, a good paragraph agrees with itself. It is logical, and the central idea it contains is developed.

Sometimes, we will end up with long paragraphs. In a paper book, paragraph length isn’t as much of a problem as in an eBook. I’ve noticed that versions of eBook novels containing long paragraphs tend to appear as page after page of an unbroken wall of words.

That can be confusing, and the reader may decide to move on to a different book.

Thus, for a manuscript that you intend to publish as an eBook, consider dividing long passages at logical places, using two paragraphs to explore the idea. This is especially a problem when the paragraph contains a long section of internal dialogue, which is frequently written in italics.

Each author writes differently. Both sentence length and paragraph length are individual, part of the fingerprint that is the author’s voice. If longer sentences are your style, by all means, write them.

I no longer use as many compound sentences as I once did. Those who have read my earlier work are grateful for that gradual change.


Credits and Attributions:

Quote from Ulysses, by James Joyce, published 1922 by Sylvia Beach

Wikipedia contributors, “Ulysses (novel),” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ulysses_(novel)&oldid=777540958 (accessed May 7, 2017).

Howl’s Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones, Tim Stevens, Illustrator, Greenwillow Books (US), Methuen (November 1986) Fair Use.

Wikipedia contributors, ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 20 February 2020, 02:23 UTC, <https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Howl%27s_Moving_Castle&oldid=941685495> [accessed 25 February 2020]

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Final Revisions #amwriting

The question came up in a professional Indie writers’ group I frequent on Facebook: Do I need to get an editor for my final manuscript or is a good proofread enough?

The overwhelming answer was a resounding “Yes!”

I am an editor but I always have my final manuscript edited by a professional editor, and I get a final proofread by members of my writing support group before I hit the publish button. As authors, we never see all our own mistakes although we catch many. We see what we intended to write rather than what is written. We misread clumsy sentences and overlook words that are missing or are included twice in a row. Our brain fills in the missing words and doesn’t notice when we use ‘its’ rather than ‘it’s,’ or ‘their’ rather than ‘they’re’ or ‘there.’

Also, we tend to overlook clumsy and inadvertently awkward phrasing.

  • Her eyes rolled over her host’s attire.
  • Delicious sounds assaulted his eardrums.

We overlook little things like those examples in our own work because we are visualizing the scene as we read it, and to us, they convey what we are thinking. We can’t see our own work with an unbiased eye, any more than we can see our children with an unbiased eye.

If you are unable to afford a full edit, and they are not cheap, there is a way to make a pretty good stab at revising your own manuscript, but it is time consuming. If you aren’t going to hire an editor, you should consider investing in the Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation. This is a resource with all the answers for questions you might have regarding grammar and sentence structure.

To do a thorough revision of your manuscript:

  1. Print out the first chapter. Everything looks different printed out, and you will see many things you don’t notice on the computer screen.
  2. Turn to the last page. Cover the page, leaving only the last paragraph visible.
  3. Starting with the last paragraph on the last page, begin reading, working your way forward.
  4. With a yellow highlighter, mark each place that needs correction.
  5. Look for
    • Typos,
    • Missing quotation marks,
    • Punctuation that is outside of the quotations.

Wrong: “dorothy flew over the rainbow in a house”. Said Toto. I went with her”.

Right: “Dorothy flew over the rainbow in a house,” said Toto. “I went with her.”

  • Words that are spelled correctly but are the wrong word – there-their-they’re, etc.
  • Look up “comma splice” and eliminate them from your manuscript.
  • Remove repetitions of entire ideas. If you explained it once, that was probably all you needed.
  • Check for repetitious use of certain key words and phrasing.
  • Eliminate all timid phrasing and remove unnecessary words. That and very are two words that can often be cut and not replaced with anything. Often cutting them makes a sentence stronger.

An editor points out and encourages you to correct all instances of timid phrasing. Timid phrasing leads to wordiness, and we really want to avoid that. Overuse of forms of to be (is, are, was, were) also lead to wordiness. Long, convoluted passages rife with compound sentences turn away most readers.

To avoid wordiness, use action words (verbs) in place of forms of to be. In active prose, our characters don’t begin (start) to move. Instead, they move. They act as opposed to beginning or starting to act.

  1. Open your manuscript on your computer and make your corrections.
  2. Repeat these steps with every chapter.

If you notice a few flaws in your manuscript in your final pass but think no one will be bothered by them, you’re wrong. Readers always notice the things that stop their eye.

In my own work, I have discovered that if a passage seems flawed, but I can’t identify what is wrong with it, my eye wants to skip it. But another person will see the flaw, and they will show me what is wrong there. This is why this editor always has a professional editor go over her manuscripts.

Once you have finished revising your manuscript in this fashion, have it proofread by a member of your writing group. If you are in a critique group, you have a great resource in your fellow authors as proof readers—they will spot things you have overlooked your work just as you do in theirs.

Editors do more than point out comma errors–they will make a note of incongruities, and contradictions.  They will also note inconsistent style and usage. When a manuscript comes across their desk, editors and publishers create a list of names, places, created words, and other things that may be repeated and that pertain only to that manuscript. This is called a style sheet.

The style sheet can take several forms, but it is only a visual guide to print out or  keep minimized until it’s needed. I copy and past every invented word, hyphenated word, or name the first time they appear in my manuscript, and if I am conscientious, I’ll be less likely to inadvertently contradict myself later on in the tale. My editor is grateful that I make this list so that she doesn’t have to!

Be aware that it is not an edit if you have done it yourself–it is only a deep revision. The best we can do with our own work is to keep revising it until it is as clean as we can make it. (See my article of June 20, 2018 – Thoughts on Revisions and Self-editing.) Only an external eye can see our work with an unbiased eye and properly edit it. But with diligence and the assistance of your critique group, it is possible to make good revisions yourself and you can turn out an acceptable book that a casual reader will enjoy.

I hope these suggestions help you in your revision process. We want our work to be enjoyable by the casual reader, and if we are conscientious in the final stages, we can turn out a readable manuscript that is not rife with easily fixable errors.

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Thoughts on revisions and self-editing #amwriting

New and beginning authors often (loudly) assert their ability to edit their own work. If you are “editing” your own manuscript, you have a fool for a client. There is no such thing as self-editing—the best you can do is make revisions and admire your work. For that reason, we need other eyes on our work.

As authors, we see what we intended to write rather than what was written. We misread clumsy sentences and overlook words that are missing or are included twice in a row.  If you are in a critique group, you have a great resource in your fellow authors—they will spot things you have overlooked your work just as you do in theirs.

The first draft of any manuscript is the story as it flowed out of your mind and onto the paper. Yes, there is life and energy in your words, but your manuscript is not publishable at this stage, no matter how many times you go over it.

You need an unbiased eye upon your work, or your book will be published with typos, awkward sentences, dropped words—the list of inadvertent errors goes on.

Every author needs someone to read their work before it is published. Just because I can see six instances of the word ‘long’ in one paragraph of someone else’s work does not mean that I will spot it in my own.

To the author in the first flush of victory, the completed first draft of his manuscript is a thing of beauty, a flawless diamond to be cherished and adored.  It is the child of their creative muse and is perfect in every way.

Let us consider the word ‘that.’ The following passage is from one of my original manuscripts as it emerged from the first draft in 2008, ten years ago.

 Jeanne was not upset over something that he had not done or not said. Now he sensed that it was a mixture of anger, hurt, and guilt that she was feeling.

In just two sentences, my stream-of-consciousness writing included 3 instances of the word ‘that’ and 3 of ‘not.’  Yet, in my own mind, it was as good as I could make it. I didn’t see those unnecessary words.

This is how that paragraph read in my mind and is how I would write it now, ten years on:

Jeanne wasn’t upset over something he had done or said. He sensed she felt a mixture of anger, hurt, and guilt.

I began working with an editor in 2012, and that is when I truly began to grow as an author. Each time they showed me where I had gone wrong, I learned from it and gradually, my stream-of-consciousness writing improved. I use fewer unnecessary words, and my prose is leaner.

Better writing habits are learned over time by writing regularly and by consciously applying the tricks and tips you learn from other authors.

Once your writing/critique group has given you their best opinions on your manuscript and you have revised it to your best ability, you need an editor. Ask other authors who they might recommend as an editor and see if you can work well with that person.

Your editor will likely point some things out that you didn’t see, but that a reader will.  At that point, you might be slightly shocked and hurt, but if you’re smart you’ll consider each comment and make your revisions accordingly.

Once you see your work through someone else’s unbiased eyes, you will be able to take your story to the next level.

The fact is, unless you can accept criticism, your work will never be what you want it to be. You must be open to viewing your work the way the reader will see it. You’re not obligated to follow every suggestion an editor makes, but 9 times out of 10 I make changes along the lines they suggest because when I look at the problem area, I can see exactly what they meant.

Writing seems like a solitary craft, and much of the time it is. However, joining a local writing support group or a critique group will give you a sounding board that costs you nothing, but from which you will reap many benefits.

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Reading for pleasure vs reading for editing

George R.R.Martin formatting issue 1 via book blog page views, margaret ebyI haven’t been able to read as much lately as I normally do–my editing and writing time has seriously cut into my reading time. In fact, I haven’t written a book review in over a month. I do miss the long hours I used to spend reading, but lately I am lucky to read two or three pages before fall asleep. Thus I have been reading poetry and short fiction.

This is not because the books I intend to read are boring–they aren’t! It’s just that when I am editing for a client, I can’t disengage my mind from that mindset. This means I have a terrible time reading for pleasure. When I am in editing mode I notice things a casual reader might not, and I can’t just enjoy the book. And I am not talking indies here–I am talking books published by the Big 5 traditional publishers.

Sometimes the errors and flaws are hilarious though.

Marked_Wicked_bibleThe thing is, errors do creep into even the most carefully examined texts and manuscripts. Usually, no one dies over it, however, in the case of the infamous Wicked Bible, the publishers paid a hefty price: Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, the royal printers in London,  were called to the Star Chamber and fined £300 (£43,586 as of 2015) and deprived of their printing license. The Star Chamber, which held court from the late 15th century to the mid-17th century,  was a branch of the English court of law and was established to ensure the fair enforcement of laws against socially and politically prominent people so powerful that ordinary courts would likely hesitate to convict them of their crimes.

SpelMistk14 Image credit- Jazarah! Hubspot_com 14 worst marketing errorsTypos and editing mistakes are pretty much taken for granted when left in mass-market paperbacks by the Big 5 Publishers, but woe to the indie who neglects to notice a repeated ‘and’ or any other editing error.

Indies are held to a far more rigid code by most readers than the traditional publishers are because the internet is rife with disparaging rhetoric pointing the finger at indies. And while the Big 5 traditional publishers are just as guilty of rushing-to-publish crap, the truth is, many new self-published authors haven’t yet gotten the hang of the publishing business, and often their books are rife with things they will later wish they hadn’t rushed-to-publish.

enhanced-buzz-20953-1398618489-5 courtesy reddit dot comHaving learned my own lessons the hard way, besides working closely with a professional editor, I now have a reliable group of friends who comb my completed manuscripts for errors and gross cut-and-paste errors, and we can only hope we have caught them all. When you are an indie, it takes a village to help you get your book fit for the public to read.

Anyway–my editor’s hat is firmly on my head these days, and that means I can’t enjoy casual reading for a while more. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy my clients’ books–I love them. I’ve made it clear that I only accept work I feel a strong attachment to, but editing is a different mindset from casual reading, and I can’t just fall out of it at the end of the day. Yes, this greatly slows my own writing, because I am stupidly self-editing instead of just letting the words flow. When I am editing I am looking for all varieties of mistakes–not just structural, grammatical, and obvious punctuation errors. I am also looking for things that will interfere with formatting the final ms for upload to Kindle or Smashwords and I hope I find them all for my client, but it makes writing my own work difficult.

George R.R.Martin bormatting issue 4 via book blog page views, margaret ebyAs an editor I do my best. But, nothing is ever sure, and I won’t see the ms after I send her the final suggested corrections. Mistakes can be made right up to the last minute while she is making those adjustments, so someone else will have to proof-read her work. The indie author has the responsibility for the final eye on his/her work. So when my client has finished her revisions, she will have her posse check the ms over for the slings and arrows of publishing fate.

I will be finished with my current editing project soon, and I plan to take a break from editing for a short while, when that happens. Then I will let my mindset slide back into the joy-of-reading mode.

I really do love to read–getting lost in a great book is the best thing I can think of, as comforting as a cute kitty purring, or my sister’s homemade chocolate truffles. I look forward to resting my editorial mind and over-indulging in the work of my many favorite authors.

 

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