Thursday, 30 October 2008

editor

I had a brilliant meeting with my editor, well worth waiting for. We talked for hours - about my book! I didn't agree with all of her suggestions, but most, as usual, were spot on. It came down to restraining my tendency to spin off from the main storyline to pursue different characters up alluring byways and cul-de-sacs. (Note I refrained from calling them dead ends . . . my self control is becoming alarming!)

Then it was back home and onto the keyboard to snip and reshape - I felt like a hairdresser.

The whole has now gone back to the editor who will subject it to microscopic examination for typos etc. It's frightening how easy it is to miss glaring blunders, as the MS inevitably alters through the writing process. So a character might finish lunch and then begin their morning's work, for example. I think my worst (which thankfully I spotted) was when I first sent the MS to my publisher, hoping to impress. Skimming quickly through it the night before, I noticed my detective reading through her notes on a meeting which took place 5 chapters later . . .

Changing names is another potential pitfall. Of course you can use the find and replace function, but you have to be careful to search for whole words only. In one of many now discarded extraneous subplots, I had a character named Ron. As I knew someone of that name, I decided to change it to Rob. The MS was peppered with words like wrobg, and strobg, crobe and drobe. All in a day's work!

43 comments:

Kim Ayres said...

Technology - great at doing what you ask it, but no common sense at all.

Come to think of. I know a few people like that too...

BernardL said...

The find and replace is a beautiful and deadly tool. :)

Monique said...

I'm a stickler for detail Leigh.

I'm always laughing out loud when, in a series, a person is attending a meeting in a certain suit and a second later he is still in the same meeting with a different suit.

Sloppy writing. Or, more often, sloppy editing.

That's why, when I write a script, I will always state at the beginning of a new scene who's in it, what they are doing and what's happening before writing the dialogue. Even if the same scene was written several scenes back and we are returning to that particular scene again. Those details are important to me.

When I write for MD I always refer to my 'character list', I can't always remember what they are like or what exactly they have been doing and this helps me a lot.

Good luck you ...

lol

Leigh Russell said...

And when you're not even sure what it is you want to ask, it gets really confusing, Kim! Much discussion about the gremlins in the computers on my blog earlier on. (Best not to mention them out loud. Just in case they're listening...)

Leigh Russell said...

beautiful and deadly indeed, bernardl.

Leigh Russell said...

Yes Monique. That's why there are people working on TV whose sole job is "continuity" - and yes, it's a source of schadenfreude when they get it wrong, isn't it! The half empty glass that is suddenly full, the cigarette that mysteriously burns longer... Perhaps you've missed your metier?
You sound so organised, it's frightening! You'd certainly make a great editor.

fizzycat said...

Snow already , goodness, its a shame you could not save it for Christmas day ( the day or the snow).
Typing errors, no comment. I have to watch what I am writing here, that is enough.
Thought Middleditch's idea of explaining about character's actions at the beginning of a script before carrying on writing was a good idea.

Bill Clark said...

subject it to microscopic examination for typos etc. It's frightening how easy it is to miss glaring blunders

Well, thanks to you, Ms. Russell, I now know that to be a fact. Here's my reply to your comment on my blog this morning:

Leigh, you are a riot! To scootch or not to scootch, that is the question, it seems. Naturally, you have sent me running straight to the Urban Dictionary to see what gaffe I have committed, and find that there are three essentially unprintable definitions of the word, and one that is merely gross. So I have corrected my most lamentable spelling error.

However, the correct word, scooch, also has some of the same unfortunate associations, as well as a goodly number of others, according to UD. What's a poor writer to do?

So no, Leigh, I haven't lost the plot, but it appears that the English language may be doing so.... :(

Leigh Russell said...

I'm not sure I could be that organised... (explains a lot!)

Sometimes I'm afraid my characters take charge. I wonder why a character did or said something and only later on do I realise what it led on to, and it all fits into place. I think I work on a subconscious level sometimes. It feels right and I only realise why later on.

But, of course, sometimes the blighters lead me up the garden path...

Charles Gramlich said...

I recently reread the Taleran books and found several, to me, glaring errors that I'd made. It's horrible how you can go through and through something and still have mistakes.

Leigh Russell said...

I know, Charles! A writer I know decided to self edit and a "moth watering" dinner slipped through. And she edits professionally. The worst of it was that a reviewer picked up on it.

I guess that's one reason (of many) why we need editors.

Hopefully most readers don't notice typos - although I do sometimes spot them when I'm reading. (Often not in my own writing though...)

Aggie said...

I was going to suggest a continuity file ... comes in very handy for those little things that you change as you go along.
Glad it's all coming together for you. Fingers crossed.

The Wisdom of Wislon said...

I love bloopers in TV shows and films!

Leigh Russell said...

A continuity file, AGGIE. How organised. An impossible necessity for me, I'm afraid. I hope you don't spot any bloopers in my book (great word, WISDOM OF WINLON!)

Eryl Shields said...

You have now given me several very good reasons to stick to short forms.

It must be rather cool to have a real meeting with a real editor, and even better to feel able to discard some of her advice. Kudos to you.

Sleepy said...

Finding mistakes in a book I've paid for sends me mental!
I can't read the story then. Asperger's Sleepy takes over and I read it LOOKING for the mistakes.

spyscribbler said...

Now that's a disaster, for sure!

Leigh Russell said...

Eryl, it was very cool. I really enjoyed it, for two reasons. One, we were talking about my book, which is always interesting to me... (ego or obsession? who cares?) Two, I like her very much. In an ideal world, I would like to have been friends with her at school, and developed a lifelong friendship with her.

Leigh Russell said...

Sleepy, I know. It can destroy the illusion.

Leigh Russell said...

spyscribbler - I'm glad I avoided making my blooper (love that word) when I first submitted my MS!

Debs said...

I once changed a character's name from Alex/Alexander to Ken and ended up with a m/s littered with Kenanders! Such a pain.

Leigh Russell said...

Kenander! I sympathise, debs. Then again, perhaps you've invented a new name?

dabrah said...

The hairdresser comparison made me chuckle. A flourish here and a snip there. I hadn't thought about the possibility that a character might end up reviewing something that hadn't yet happened, just because of editing.

How exciting to have a meeting with an editor!

Barbara Martin said...

When I had sent my first manuscript out to be critiqued initially I realized about two days after I sent it that I had forgotten to written several scenes that needed to be in it. But, thank goodness, they were easily overlooked, but not to me. Now I pay more attention to the detail so these little pesky mistakes don't occur ever again.

Leigh Russell said...

It was exciting, dabrah. As for the hairdresser analogy, I suppose I'm thinking about where the creativity and the craft meet. (I think we had a discussion on my blog earlier on about creativity vs craft in writing.)

Leigh Russell said...

barbara martin - so easy to do, isn't it? And like Charles said, you can go through and through something and still miss "glaring" mistakes.

Not sure about a reader managing without scenes that need to be included? If they can be left out, are they really necessary?

Anne Lyken-Garner said...

That's funny Leigh. I've changed names and then forgot half way through what the new name was. I still have to go through the book again to find out what I decided to call a teacher after I gave her a different name.

Editors are worth their weight in gold. All I have to do now, is get one.

heidi said...

HI Leigh - thanks for stopping by my blog! Your upcoming book looks intriguing and right up my alley! Psychological thriller AND a series - woot!

Leigh Russell said...

Hi Anne - yes, names are really important, I don't know why. It seems so petty and trivial, but until I have the right name, I can't get a character in my head. And then I change the name...
Editors are worth their weight in gold That is absolutely true.

Leigh Russell said...

Hi Heidi, and thank you! Don't forget my book is also described as "seriously creepy" which I love because it makes me laugh. I'm the least creepy person you could wish to meet in real life!

Rick said...

Leigh, I am so glad that you will continue to fight the good fight against being too organized along with me. Let's just subcontract all our organization to Monique!!

Leigh Russell said...

Fine with me, Rick. Perhaps we could set up a copy and replace mode - we copy our chaos to Monique and she replaces it with something comprehensible. Maybe that's the appeal of writing fiction. As a writer you have to cut out extraneous material and focus on the plot. That makes it sound so simple... if only!

Mel said...

Great post Leigh. Having fairly much self edited I am dreading reading through and finding errors that I have missed, I managed to change two characters names which became merged throughout but now sorted (I hope.)
Still MS has gone, love the hairdresser analogy.

Virginia Lady said...

I've found the more I use the automatic tools, the less I like them. They really are limited in what they can do. But they are really good at giving you more work when you least expect it.

Vesper said...

I can too well recall (not just imagine) that sinking feeling you must've had when you discovered the mistake the night before sending your manuscript away...

Leigh Russell said...

Mel - two characters' names merged. What a nightmare! It must have taken ages to sort that one out.

Leigh Russell said...

So true, Virginia Lady. The more computers we have at work, the more staff we seem to need to use them... doesn't add up, somehow.

Leigh Russell said...

Vesper, I'm so pleased I spotted the mistake when I did. I can still remember the feeling of panic...

Leigh Russell said...

Vesper, I'm so pleased I spotted the mistake when I did. I can still remember the feeling of panic...

Leigh Russell said...

Seem to recall twice the panic ...

Annieye said...

How exciting Leigh. Find and replace can actually be quite funny, but really handy. I was taught to type in the 1970s in the days when you put two spaces after a full stop. It's a habit I can't get out of, but I read somewhere that editors only like there to be one space. If you type in two spaces in 'find' and then one space in 'replace' it will correct the whole m/s like magic!

Rick said...

Find and replace should be called seek and destroy!

Leigh Russell said...

But where would we be without computers? I can type much faster than I write and still be legible, and editing is so easy. How did Dickens manage? or any other writer before computers? Our lives are so easy as long as the gremlins in the computer behave themselves . . .