Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Final Edits

I spent the better part of 2 days going through final edits. I've picked up a few more "Track Changes" skills, which sped the process. For this run-through, I didn't do another full read of the manuscript. Since any changes the editor made appeared in the margins, I trusted that what she sent back didn't have any surprises.

My method for this round: I used the formatting toolbar and hopped from change to change. That was one of my discoveries: there are buttons on the toolbar that take you from one to the next. And I also learned to highlight the section where there were changes so I could approve more than one at a time. I should have figured that out a long time ago – sure beats accepting a deletion, then accepting the insertion every time there's a word change. One new trick for this old dog.

At any rate, I accepted almost all of them (you can see Monday's post for the types of things that moved relatively quickly.). Then it was time to dig in to the comments. Here, it's not a matter of simply agreeing with what she's said. It's working them seamlessly into the text when you make these changes. Even a minor change, such as, "can you work in a line or two about why your heroine never had a close girlfriend until now?" requires more than finding the right scene to reveal that information. Should it be in dialogue? Internal monologue? Should it come in all at once, or should it be dripped in gradually?

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Then there's the kind of comment that says, "Why didn't she mention this before?" You think about that one for a bit, go back to see where "this" happened, and decide maybe she should have mentioned it. Or at least have a darn good reason for not doing so. Because if the editor asks the question, it's likely a reader will too.

I like to think my writing is tight, which means each sentence connects to the next. (Okay, there was a lot of stuff that the editor cut, but even those bits were tightly written!) It's a challenge to create the necessary transitions, even when adding one new sentence. You have to be willing to sacrifice a line or two you've already written to keep the new bits from looking like they were patched in using a different color thread.

But it's done. I sent it to her last night. And I even got a peek at a draft cover, which was a total surprise, since the book probably won't come out until about a year from now.

As for Quebec – Since I was working, I didn't stray far from the hotel yesterday. There's an underground mall connected to the hotel, and a food court where I grabbed a quick breakfast, and then went down again for an equally quick lunch. Hubby had dinner plans, so I went down to the bar for a drink and light meal. I hadn't changed, so I was still wearing my "Careful or you'll end up in my novel" t-shirt. A woman got onto the elevator, read the shirt, and we struck up a brief conversation. I gave her a bookmark, and she said she'd get the book from Amazon. (Yeah, right). But she also came into the bar and asked if I'd autograph it for her. We ended up sharing a table, and had a very nice conversation over dinner.

Now, it's changing gears and getting back to my mystery. Since it's raining now, I can spend some time working with the other set of characters. I finally got everyone into the same town, but my police chief is thinking about going to Arizona to follow a lead. This will not work so late in the book, and I'm going to have to have a long chat with him.

And if the weather clears the way it's supposed to, I might even get outside and wander around the Old City. Tomorrow, I think I'll talk about floating body parts.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I'm using Track Changes for my revisions, too. My editor has given me similar things to work you mentioned, it's *easy* to think of a fix--working in the fix in a natural way is tougher.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Terry Odell said...

It gets to be more "fun" when you and the editor decide that the ending might work better if it was totally rewritten! Guess that's what I'll be doing today!

Carol Kilgore said...

Thanks for the tips on track changes.

My sister gave me one of those t-shirts. I just wore it under a sweater the other day when it was cool. Ninety today.

Enjoy Quebec - if you get to see it!

Terry Odell said...

If there's room, I think I'll take a formal tour today and try to learn something about the history. There's a dinner cruise tonight, which should be fun.

Meanwhile, I rewrote/pieced together an alternate ending to see if my editor prefers it. I don't think it's really addressing major character growth changes, but it avoids some of the other problems we were having.

We'll see.

Sheila Deeth said...

This is so cool. I've only ever had one short story come out in print, and that only a couple of weeks ago, but the editor gave me such similar suggestions to these, reading your post makes me feel like she was treating me as a real writer. Lovely warm feeling. Thanks.

Terry Odell said...

Sheila, that's so true. Now I'm waiting to see what she thinks of the alternate ending to the book.

A product both can be proud of is the goal. And you ARE a real writer. You write!