Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Editing and Proof-reading

Mandala someone made in a local park, I thank them for their art.

This mandala was not made by the professional mandala makers, the Tibetan monks, who often visit  these climes. But you might agree that it has a certain charm, and really, if you wanted to use it to meditate over ... sit down, though there's only the ground, I'm afraid, and go for it. Up close you will see enough detail to keep you going a while. 

In the same way that this mandala is 'home-made' so must my novel Monster-Moored be home edited. I'm sure some people will consider it foolish. Or unprofessional. Even impossible. Needs must. 

I had it printed out. Double sided and 1.5 line spaced to save paper. Spiral bound so it can lay flat when open. (Having a go at beta-reading a digital file convinced me that for a comprehensive edit I'd need a paper copy.)

Way back when, when I first began to write, someone advised a loose leaf file. Throw it into the air was the next instruction, and pick it up any-old-how. Edit as the pages come to hand. Pick up 52 they call that when it is a card game. I'm doing a variation. Open the manuscript at a page and edit. Circle the page's number when finished.

I've been working on it for a couple of days, whenever I sit at that table I do a few pages. 

Spelling and punctuation are not my main problems. Surprisingly, considering I edited closely at least half a dozen times, my biggest problem is clauses in the wrong place. Clauses out of their sequential order ruin a reader's expectation of getting the meanings in the order that they happened. 

I've also still got paragraphs that I've let stand intact (Why?) through all the previous edits, in the exact way that I wrote them down in the first place. Beyond belief, really. It is necessary to change them because while they reflect how a brain works, the beginning is not the best way to deliver the punch-line. 

We often think of the kernel of an idea first. Then we proceed to layer it with ancillary and descriptive thoughts. In half a dozen places already, I have had to transpose the kernel to the end of a paragraph. 

Interestingly, most of the above errors seem to be happening in the parts of the story happening in the Main Character's head. When I do read a page completely without errors, it is usually dialogue and or the main character's experience of various parts of the landscape. 

I've decided to mainly ignore the two beta reader reports I've been blessed with. There was no area of overlap other than that both were irritated by the Antagonist. Did that mean they both got so involved they viewed the Antagonist as she was meant to be seen? I don't know. Their explanations were inconclusive. 

I suspect the experience of real readers will mirror that of the beta-readers, though I'll be lucky if I get a 30% hit rate of readers. It's a mystery. 

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