C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

Writers: Clean your manuscript with these enema tricks

There are mistakes in every book, but there are tricks to avoid some pesky problems. For instance, I’m in the midst of proofing This Plague of Days. In Scrivener, I do a quick and easy

A cross-genre flurry about  society's collapse under the crush of the Sutr Virus combined with a boy's love for odd words, Latin dictionaries and his father.

Society collapses around a strange autistic boy with a deep love of odd words, Latin dictionaries and his father The plague is coming. Buckle up.

search for odd mistakes that creep in. Here are a few things I plug into the search box to search and destroy:

1. Hit the space bar twice and eliminate those pesky double spaces that find their way into your ebook (and look like chasms on a kindle.)

2. Put “the the” in the search box. Take one out unless it shows up as “the theme…” It’s startling how easy it is for the human eye to skip over a brain stutter like the the.

3. Search “awhile”. Change it to “a while” when appropriate. Here’s when it’s right to do so.

4. “Exact same” = A redundant expression we use in spoken language and in the excited flurry of our first drafts. Excise from later drafts.

5. Search “..” Double periods appear occasionally, usually from an edit you did instead of a typo. 

The fewer mistakes you give your editors, beta readers and proofers to find, the fewer mistakes they will miss.

When you get all your revisions back and make your changes, do these searches again (and whatever common mistakes you discover you are prone to.) After the edit, the act of going back to make corrections often introduces mistakes. This is especially true if you’re working with extensive edits using Track Changes. It’s often helpful to bump up the text size so you can better understand where all the little red lines are pointing for edits. I prefer Scrivener and recommend it for writing, editing, compiling and publishing.

Also check the copy again once it’s published. I have had some file management issues in the past with Scrivener where I published an earlier draft, not the final draft. It was frustrating and embarrassing, but fortunately it was easy to fix quickly. Now that I’m aware of that potential, I’m extra paranoid so things keep getting better. Editing and proofing these little details can be arduous but, like a 10k run uphill, you’ll feel great about your work when it’s done.

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Filed under: Books, Editing, getting it done, grammar, publishing, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writers: Your mistakes taunt you

The original Ruby slippers used in The Wizard ...

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I saw the movie Limitless over the weekend. I loved it (and it helped the loser/hero starts out as a scrambled slacker writer who is hopelessly blocked . It’s a great time, but as I hit the parking lot I thought, (MINI-SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER!) how come they left the dangling thread of the unsolved murder? Was it lost on the editing room floor?

There are plenty of precedents for such mistakes. For instance, a truly great classic, Casablanca is brutally flawed if you think about the ending for a moment. The engine of the plot turns on there being only two travel passes so only two people can leave. Will Ilsa go with Rick or Victor? The resistance needs Victor so Rick must sacrifice his desires for Ilsa for the greater good. But there are no Nazis checking passports at the airport!

In fact, in the background at the end of Casablanca just a few little people (they were “dwarves” when the same extras were in The Wizard of Oz) pretend to fuel a cardboard cut-out plane. Rick could have escaped, as well. Instead he stays with Louie and they begin a beautiful friendship that, years later, would inspire the raw, hot homo-eroticism of Bert and Ernie of Sesame Street fame. (Okay, I made up that last bit.)

Sometimes people underestimate the importance of editing. When stuff is left out, it sticks out. Even if you enjoy a story, as you put it down, you think about that niggling deficit. I guess it’s just the way our brains are wired. You forget praise, but point out a screw up, that you remember forever.

I recently went through a writing sample for an author. I might have seemed harsh though I took great pains to be kind. The truth is, I found a lot to fix. The author wanted to send it off for traditional publication. Without those fixes, there was no way it was going to get past the first gatekeeper.

Publishing has changed. There are fewer editors doing more work and if they accept a new author at all, they do not want to have to do much editing at all.
With To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee‘s acquisition editor took a year off to perfect the book. There is no way in hell that would happen today.

You want your text to be excellent. If you publish it yourself, good might do. Even “good enough” might pass. But is that really what you want? Mistakes in books stand out and stick, burning you at the thought of readers stumbling over a glaring error and questioning your ability, craft or intelligence.

Errata are in all books. They shouldn’t be dancing around in neon taunting you.

 

 

 

 

Filed under: authors, Books, Editing, Editors, movies, publishing, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , ,

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

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