I procrastinated last week, but this week I was neck-deep in edits. I must have gone over the book seven times, and you know what? I'm still not sure it's perfect. So, herewith, are Seven Things to Look for when Editing your Book:
1) Typos. That sounds easy, but it's not always a mispelled word. I've had my characters struggling through a burning dessert - and only my proofreader caught that one. No, they were not eating flaming crepes Suzette - they were lost in the Gedrosia Desert. Beware the typo masquarading as a homonym or the word that is spelled nearly the same, but means something far different!
2) Alliterations: The dictionary says: 'The occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words: "sweet birds sang".'
Sweet birds sang is nothing! I've found things like 'A wave of whispers washed over the watching women" in my manuscript. Sorry - but no one will beat that one. It still makes my editor (my mom) crack up. Strike down alliterations! However, they are not all bad - they make childrens' books lots of fun!
3) Plot holes. I have read books with plot holes. A plot hole is something that happens, that makes no sense in a story. If something happens that leaves you scratching your head and wondering, that could be a plot hole. For example:
- Characters suddenly having knowledge that was never passed to them, or vice versa; characters not knowing something they knew last week, or something that anyone in their position must know.
- An event does not logically follow from what has gone before.
- An event occurring that other events in the story do not allow.
I find plot holes occcur more often in movies than in books - but they are annoying, so try to fill them in!
4) Formatting errors - now, this might seem silly, but when you send the manuscript back and forth with your editor, formatting problems arise, especially if the doc shanges name from ftf to doc to odf to whatever...and you can end up with trunciated paragraphs, sentences squished together without any spaces, or huge spaces you can't get rid of. For me, last time, it was some of the apostrophes had grown extra spaces, so I found this: Alexander' s, the monkey' s, etc. - so do a quick search/replace.
5) Repeated words. This can be a bit annoying if after every bit of sentence a bit of a word appears again and again. It can be a bit distracting, or even a bit of a reason to start a drinking game for every time you come across the words 'a bit'. At any rate, as an author, try to find your favorite repeated word and be a bit ruthless stomping it out. We don't want our readers to end up a bit too drunk to read.
6) Do your research. You don't have to pretend to be a scientist or a history teacher, but if you are writing a historical novel, at least try to keep the clothing, current leaders, food and such, more or less as close to reality as possible (unless you're writing fantasy, of course!). If you are not building your own world, try to conform to what actually happened. A pet peeve of mine is a Roman centurion setting his alarm clock in order to wake up early enough to attack the Viking raiders.
7) Run-on sentences: According to Grammarly’s research, "run-on sentences are among the top grammar mistakes made by writers worldwide. A run-on sentence contains two or more independent clauses (a group of words that contains a subject and a verb and that can stand alone as a sentence) that are not connected with correct punctuation. Though there are different kinds of run-on sentence errors, most often writers neglect to use a comma before a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, etc.)." So take pity on the poor reader and try to avoid run on sentences because they are difficult to read and often cause boredom when the point of the whole phrase is not immediately obvious and the characters stories have nothing to do with it.
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