Today I will finish my latest book. Doesn’t that sound great? After months of research, months of planning and many more months of writing and editing, it is finally about to go out the door and I will be ready to celebrate! Months of struggling with not only rewriting the story but also fighting with a dying and eventually dead computer will come to an end, as will editing on a completely new computer. (Sometimes I wish for the days of my old Selectric.)
champagne that accompanies that emailing, it is still sad, scary
and with a note of trepidation that I will hit the send key on my computer and
know that it is gone. Will it be good enough for the editor to immediately send
me the final okay? Will she want more work or changes?
With all that in mind, here are some ideas and tips for your own work on editing a book.
The next pass is for polishing. Could something be phrased better? Does the writing sing? Where are the passages where I struggled? Did I finally succeed in getting the words just right? If there were things you wanted fixed, do it now.
The final pass is one of the most important. I usually suggest that writers complete the process by re-reading your manuscript OUT LOUD. Why? Very simple. If you stumble over reading a word or a sentence you will notice. Does the sentence need to be rewritten? Is it so long you lose your place halfway through? Did you stumble over a misspelled word or grammatical error? Does the sentence make sense or confuse you even while you read it?
Reading out loud can also help you pick out words that might be misspelled or awkward phrasing. It is particularly useful for dealing with dialogue and whether it makes sense or sounds stilted. Yes, it might seem odd to have to do this, but believe me, I have always found it valuable. Reading back a story out loud is the ONE thing I suggest to writers when they do any writing—whether it is a book, or even something as simple as this blog. For years when I was working as a television newswriter I almost always re-read my copy out loud before it went to the anchor or report. It was one of the early lessons I received from a wise old news guy (think real Lou Grant) and I never forgot it. I did that in a busy newsroom with other people around and as a result I got used to reading EVERYTHING I write out loud. (Yes, even this blog as I wrote it – with only the cats listening) In that newsroom most of us did it because we knew our words were going to be read by a reporter or anchorman and the sentence couldn’t afford to be confusing. We couldn’t afford to make simple mistakes that might trip up a person who could be reading the copy for the first time live on the air with thousands of viewers watching. It had to make sense coming out of the anchor or reporter’s mouth.
This is even more true for writing dialogue. The words should sound as though they were spoken by the hero and the heroine. No one speaks alike so by reading your story out loud, you can hear the words your hero and heroine are speaking and whether they sound different.
My final pass is actually when I make use of the editing program on the computer and only then if I absolutely feel like I need it. What I often find is that my own editing works almost as well, but that also points out anything that might be a blind spot for me or small mistakes that I might make.
As this new week gets underway, I’ll be doing a lot of reading out loud this week as I put the finishing touches on my manuscript. Hopefully, the cats don’t mind.
And then with a heavy sigh and a glass of champagne nearby, I will send out that manuscript!
One final point -- if you are looking for how to pitch your own story, please watch for my new book on pitching that will be released soon from Savvy Authors. I will have more on information on that in a future blog.