Here’s a secret about the first draft of This Plague of Days:
I started writing it in first person. For dramatic reasons (and other reasons I can’t reveal for fear of spoilers), I switched to third person, limited omniscient.
At the hub of this apocalyptic adventure is a young man who is on the autistic spectrum. We often see the world flu pandemic and the rise of the zombie horde through his eyes. However, to write the whole book that way would be too hard on the reader. Jaimie’s mind is not grounded in our reality. He sees significance in everything and is obsessed with dictionaries, English words and Latin phrases. To give the story a context of verisimilitude, I had to change how I told the story.
The change made for a better story but added more challenges.
Whatever writing choices you make as you revise and polish, remnants show up. Remnants appear in manuscripts when you make changes or corrections. When I edited other people’s manuscripts, I suggested changes for authors, but I also requested back up by proofreaders after my edit.
Corrections introduce new errors.
The manuscript is not done when the edit is done. This is good advice you would think unnecessary. Nevertheless, I was occasionally ignored by some authors and even a small press on that score. We all need a stellar proofing team and/or beta team to help scour the book.
You can always depend on remnants appearing. For instance, in This Plague of Days, the character of the looter named Bentley changed to Bently. This Plague of Days is huge, so I found several examples of the earlier incarnation when I searched for “Bentley.” “The Bentley” turned up a couple of times, too.
An old man named Douglas Oliver is a major character. I found several remnants from the previous draft that labeled him “The Oliver.” That’s probably a switch from “the old man” to the character’s name.
Look for more corrections after you think you’re done.
Always look for spelling variations even if you haven’t changed the character name. The autistic kid is Jaimie Spencer, but once or twice I lapsed into “Jamie” or “Jaime”.
Search “stood” and “rose”. Consider if you really want the word “up” to follow those words.
Always enter “the the” in the search box. Our brains are trained to skip over that error.
Always enter two spaces in the search box just before you hit “compile”. You’ll find spaces in your manuscript that look like huge gaps in the text when the manuscript is converted into an ebook.
When you correct a typo, reread what you just corrected to make sure you haven’t subtracted one typo and added another.
It will be okay. Don’t get frustrated. The process is worth it.
After your masterpiece is published, alert readers will email you with helpful notes about typos you missed so you can correct them in the next edition. You’ll take solace in the fact that, without all your preparation, the typo onslaught and readers’ annoyance could have been much worse.
- Writers: Clean your manuscript with these enema tricks (chazzwrites.com)
- The book I lost a job for…and why zombies? (thisplagueofdays.com)
- This Plague of Days: The Pitch (thisplagueofdays.com)