Saturday, February 27, 2010

Extreme editing techniques

Facing a deadline on Monday, and I'm working hard on my latest. The book is done, but it reads like a road full of potholes (or plotholes) and I'm filling them in as fast as I can. Actually, the plot has no holes, but I do repeat myself, and I've got some serious cutting to do.

Here's how I edit the final draft:

I print out a copy, and sit down with a pen and a glass of water. The pen is for notes. The water is for soothing my throat. I read the whole book out loud, which points out everything that needs repair, since after a few drafts I'm too close to the text. Reading it aloud helps me get a fresh perspective.

I then make all the edits I've noted. The it's time for a final spellcheck, after which I do a chapter check, searching for the word "chapter" - which is usually just my chapter headings - and going through to make sure they are all sequential. You'd be surprised how often Chapter Sixteen ia followed by Chapter Eighteen! Here's where I change all the Chapter Four A and Chapter Whatever headings, too, from where I knew I needed a chapter break but didn't want to stop to figure out what to call it.

The last thing I do is change the view, zooming out to 10%, which shows the entire book as little icon-like chips on the screen. This way, I can sweep through and find any blank pages, weird text, and chapter headings that are too high or low on a page (rather than my preferred line 11). Then that's it! All done.

For this editor, I email the manuscript. I hit send, and that's it!

Others, more old style, want it printed and mailed. Ick. That requires a trip to Kinkos, because I don't own a laser printer and I don't want a copy editor's coffee cup ring to obliterate a paragraph from my inkjet-printed page. I print the whole book, single side, then put two rubber bands around it, one in each direction, so it doesn't slip. I type up a quick cover letter (that one I do on my ink squirtin' printer), slip it into a Tyvek or padded envelope which then goes into a Fed Ex box. I always send Fed Ex. When I mail the beast, I do it a few days before the deadline so that it gets there on time no matter what. I write "contracted material" on the box, in case Joann or Mike in shipping doesn't recognize my name and I end up in the slush pile. Paranoid much? You can see why I prefer to email. Straight to editor's in box. No hassle, no questions, no trees have to die.

I'm always interested in how others edit, so if you stumble across this post, let me know how you do it.

Off to read aloud some more, but first some hot tea. I'll have to pick my way over all the snoozing pets.