Sunday, November 27, 2011

What Edits Look Like (And what the heck do I do with them?)

You remember in school when you'd get a corrected paper from your teacher and there were all these lines and corrections on it? Mine had a lot of red on it. I think it's why I hate the color red so much today. My spelling and grammar was awful--and still I have trouble with both.

But my post today is about edits from your editor, and is for those of you who have never seen such things, or have never had such things sent to you. So anyone here who has had this experience you may step out of the class room. The rest of you stay.

I'll do my best to try and re-create a few sections of my edits. It might be difficult, but bare with me.

First of all the question is what do you do with the edits of your manuscript once you get them?


Well, what you want to do is open up a blank document and copy and paste the edits onto this new document. You'll find something magical happens. All the lines and cross outs are gone. What you have are the edits/changes already made and it looks like a clean, ready to go mss. We'll call this your new edited page.

But wait! It is not quite ready by any means. There may be mistakes in it you aren't aware of and you need to do a read-through to catch them. And what you'll want is to have the edits open along side your new document (remember to save it in a format that both you can use and your editor can open).

I had the experience the first time around realizing I had not caught a few spots where I should have paid more attention. Lines that might be missing have to be rejoined. They may have moved a line from a paragraph below to join the paragraph above it, and now there's  a space where there shouldn't be one.

Let me try and re-create a paragraph for you here. My edits are in blue, but can be in red.

I cracked my eyes open. My Breath came out in wintry frosty clouds as I strove to pull cold air into my lungs. Above, in the crisp, midnight-blue sky, stars glittered coldly, indifferently..Indifferently. Suddenly, I remembered why I was here, naked. I got quite, but became frustrated whenthat I couldn't remember what my activities had been for the last several hours. I didn't see the moon above me, full and bright, as I knew it had been when the transformation began had come over me.

Now, this might be a little difficult to read. If it is, you'll want to magnify it--I remembered to do so only when I was half-way through and my eyes were going bleary. This paragraph is from the first page. The word choices I made and changed are crossed out. Theirs is underlined. Also you'll see where they've added commas (in blue and underlined), these should come through on the new edited page you have up. However, go back and you'll see the word midnight blue was hyphenated. On the new edited page it came out looking like this:
midnightblue--with the red spell check underlining it. Watch for these as it will indicate to you that the hyphen was added, but may not have come through onto your new edited page. You'll have to manually add that hyphen. You may also have to add the en dash (--). Mine comes out in one solid line when I place it into a document. Where they've indicated one should go it sometimes came in and then other times it became a big thick hyphen, like this: - between words. So I had to go in and manually make it an en dash.

Just for arguments sake, let's say that you don't like that they've changed a word here or there. I remember a few I just had to change back because the word didn't really mean what I had meant. I should have probably been a bit more aggressive with some of these, but I let a few of them slide. But not all. When you do read the edits be mindful of the word usage. If it didn't alter your meaning at all, then it should be fine. However, if you find that the word they've placed in there instead wasn't really what you wanted, change it back on your new edited page.

One example (this is taken from a later scene):
Quist opened his hands to getreceive it, looking up gratefully at the barkeeper...

I changed get back to receive because I felt this was a better word. The barkeeper was serving Quist a drink he really needed badly.

I had two more places on the same page where I felt my word choice was better, and I replaced my words back into the mss. I stress that if it's a good word choice and it means what you want it to mean, you have every right to change it back, as long as it doesn't change the meaning, or for some reason the change may have a better flow, or grammar is the issue. In these cases, the words were merely word choices, and you can see why I didn't go with the word "get" here in the line--"receive" is a much better word for what is happening.

Then I came across something quite odd looking:

They brought cheese~*~

Cheese, grapes and some sort of heavy, whole-granined flat bread was brought to me along with a carafe of wine and something that tasted like a combination of bean curd and lobster in a small bowl.

As you can see I had made a little separtion mark: ~*~ and it was centered. The line They brought cheese had been what was to be in the next paragraph, but had wound up there in the center above. This is why you need to read through the mss. You may miss little items that mess up the page, and the thing will look as though no one checked it through. This is your job, as it is your book. Yours are the final eyes that look through this.

I thought I'd share this with you today, in case (and I hope it happes for those of you still struggling to get that first book published), you have this happen some day. I hope this helps you when you need it.

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