Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Agony of Final Edits

After a long hot summer, bear season is back. (I wonder where they all went during the hot weather.) For a video my daughter took on Thursday, October 27, click here.

I consider this one of Delle Jacob's all-time great covers. Absolutely love it!

The Agony of Final Edits

The last thing I ever planned was to be in final edits and formatting for two different books at the same time. This is not supposed to happen. And now, on top of that, I've realized I have to get busy polishing the Christmas novella I plan to republish for the holiday season. (It was originally published by the Cotillion division of Ellora's Cave.)

And that makes THREE, side by side, and back to back. Aargh!

It looks like Regency Gothic #5, Tangled Destinies, will make it online first. If I can straighten out all the kinks that weren't meant to be kinky! But even before that, I plan to have Sorcerer's Bride, Book 2 of the Blue Moon Rising series, ready to upload to Kindle Scout. That process takes a while - and may or may not work out. In either case, I suspect it will be the first of the year before it makes it online. As soon as Tangled is uploaded, I'll turn my attention to re-editing Mistletoe Moment. In spite of all the agonies of so many final edits, I will get this poignant Christmas tale back online in time for the holiday season. So please keep a look-out for the announcement about this story of two people who have, with considerable bitterness, withdrawn from the polished manners and mores of society.

Down to the Nitty-Gritty . . .

After many years of listening to all the horror stories about not being able to use most of my well-loved and expensive programs if I upgraded to Windows 10, my poor old Dell (XP) and its Windows 7 successor both succumbed within months of each other, and there I was, stuck. No choice. New computer. New programs. No-o-o-o! 

Incredibly, my Geek Squad guy, well aware of my fears, was quite smug about presenting me with a Lenovo* Windows 10 loaded with every last one of my old programs, including Word Perfect 5, and even Word 2003, which I had used to successfully upload every last one of my books to Amazon and Smashwords. He had to fight to get my Oxford English Dictionary to work, but he managed it. Yeah, hurray, Geek Squad! I've continued to do my professional (outside) editing work in Word 2003, but I'm doing final edits of Sorcerer's Bride in Word 2016 and expect I will soon feel comfortable with Track Changes there as well. All in all, a much better experience with Windows 10 than I had been led to anticipate.

*Grace note: the keyboard of the Lenovo model I chose was totally unacceptable. I purchased a separate wireless keyboard and mouse to go with the new computer. A keyboard whose layout was similar to the keyboards I had been using since 1981 and not some dinky little "shortcut" model that looked like it was designed for people who could only type with two fingers!

The biggest editing challenge:

One of the many reasons I write in Word Perfect is its "Reveal Codes" function. It may seem unutterably boring to go through your book line by line, looking for wonky codes, but I always feel it's worth it. Inevitably, I find stray Italics codes, Left Tabs that shouldn't be there, and those pesky extra spaces that inevitably creep in. In Sorcerer's Bride I even found one or two Required Page Ends that had mysteriously disappeared. (The page ends & extra spaces would have been caught in Word with codes on. The others would not.)

Alas, I also found the editing pane chock-full of italics codes that did belong there. I had not realized how many times I used italics in Bride until I saw the manuscript with Reveal Codes turned on. And every last one was necessary. A few were used for emphasis, but most were for other reasons. 1) I invented a new language for Sorcerer's Bride, and every "foreign" word had to be set in italics. 2) There are a lot of spaceships in Bride; the name of every one of them had to be in italics. 3) There is a great deal of "thought-speak" in Sorcerer's Bride, which is set on a planet where people are psychically gifted. Each bit of silent dialogue had to be in italics. 4) Almost all my books tend to have saucy inner voices that give the heroine or hero a hard time (in present tense). These, too, need italics. So, all in all, Sorcerer's Bride is likely a strong candidate for "Most Italics Used in a Single Novel."

The next step:

After going through Sorcerer's Bride line by line, looking only at codes, I saved it into RTF. I then went to my brand new Word 2016 and played with a few chapters of Tangled Destinies until I could find the necessary editing menus. (They are, I admit, after the initial struggle, an improvement on good old 2003 - just harder to find.) After that, at last, I opened the RTF copy of Sorcerer's Bride in Word 2016, turned on what few codes Word shows by clicking ¶ in the Tool Bar, and settled down to reading the entire manuscript from top to bottom. True agony, as I've now been through it so many times I'm ready to scream. 

Yet, incredibly, I'm still finding things I want to change. Even on this last time through. That's what good writing is—it includes editing. Making your work the best you possibly can before foisting it on an unsuspecting world.

Ah, if only more of us were willing to suffer for our art. 

I ran into an author not long ago who begged for my help with her book, and then rejected every bit of advice I gave her, after I struggled through the longest, hardest, most difficult bit of editing plus critique that I have ever done. An attitude like this is self-defeating. I doubt even her friends will be willing to plow their way through that particular manuscript. So wake up, authors. Don't shoot yourself in foot. As I've said so often before, don't insist you're perfect. Don't insist you never make mistakes. Don't insist you never leave things out. Don't insist you never go on and on over something that is best deleted. Don't close your mind to enlightenment. Don't be so arrogant you can't at least consider expert advice. 

Repeat: Do not shoot yourself in the foot. Your friends and relatives may read your first book, but will they read your second? Will anyone?

~ * ~

Thanks for stopping by,


For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft, click here.

For a brochure for Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, click here.  

1 comment:

  1. Wow, someone else who remembers and loves Word Perfect. It was a gift from my father -- my first word processing program that wasn't just a text editor. But I'm not as persistent as you; I reluctantly made the switch to Word several computers ago. Speaking of switching, I figure to go to Windows 10 the way you did, when I'm forced to get a new computer. From the experiences of many others, I've concluded that it's not that Windows 10 is bad in itself, but that it has a tendency to break older computers. And I just know I'm going to lose the perfectly-fine peripherals that I have left after losing both my printer and my scanner when I went from XP to 7. :(