Saturday, August 20, 2005

Editing update, and a snippet

6 Reasons for my present brain-fry:
  1. I've begun line-editing my manuscript. Status: 12.5% done.
  2. Four loads of laundry.
  3. Two loads for the dishwasher.
  4. Cooked a ham, candied yams, and eggplant parmigiano.
  5. Went to the gym. Thanks to the summer cold, I'm out of shape again, but I still managed a 25-minute workout.
  6. Trip to the grocery store and drug store.
Here's my editing strategy. Never having edited a novel before, I can't tell you if these are bright ideas or not.
  1. Run through the text, correcting all major errors and omissions I've thought of during the writing process. DONE.
  2. First hard copy edit. Catch all the little shit, and the big shit, too. (Such as Karen's comment from a few minutes ago: "Why don't the Kirbys just return to their lander when the mugwasps fly in?" Um . . . because I really, really want them to head down into the spider caves?) 12.5% complete.
  3. Second run-through on the text, this time making the changes in computero which I've penciled in at step 2. That's when I'll be adding and deleting scenes.
Since I do much of the coarse editing with the very first writing, the manuscript is already in pretty good shape. Mostly, I need to fix consistency issues. For example: Brakans are birds (sort of). They do not sleep in beds. They do not use pillows. That sort of thing. And now, because you've been good, here's your snippet for the day. This comes at the end of Chapter Six, when Commander Brek has successfully recruited all forty Colonel Kirbys from the master-creator of synthetic humans, Whizzer Ugh. (Colonel Kirby was John Wayne's character in The Green Berets.) Jeannie is another synthetic human modeled after Barbara Eden, circa I Dream of Jeannie. Thirty-nine Kirbys filed into the choppers while one remained behind, lingering in Jeannie’s embrace. The two lovers’ eyes were locked, and he rubbed the small of her back forcefully with both hands, as if he might join her forever to him. When the lieutenant blew his whistle, this last Kirby pulled himself from Jeannie’s arms and marched to the nearest chopper. She crumpled to her knees, her anguished cries muted by the choppers’ mounting roar. Campy melodrama ;o) D. PS: Beth has something on her mind. Please, for the love of God, don't tell her where I live.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am happy to see that you do laundry, cook, dishes and go to the grocery store. I thought I was the only wife that got away with that. It good to know I'm not alone. More men should be as evolved.

8/20/2005 09:54:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Hah! If you got a good look at me, you'd say devolved.

8/20/2005 11:19:00 PM  
Blogger THIS! Christine said...

So why do you think your editing process should be any easier than everyone's else?

Looks like you're on top of it.


8/21/2005 12:34:00 AM  
Blogger Jona said...

You're a tease!

8/21/2005 03:11:00 AM  
Blogger Invisible Lizard said...

I had a writing teacher tell me once that because of your mental and emotional proximity to your own work, the best editing you can possibly do is after you let it sit on a shelf for six months while you work on something else. Just a random thought. I was never very good at waiting that long, myself.

8/21/2005 04:52:00 AM  
Blogger Anduin said...

Wow, Beth sounds like a real winner. Glad I'm not a man.

Oh and good luck with your editing. I have problems making sure my blog posts are okay and ususally have to go back a couple of times to catch things I've missed.

8/21/2005 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Aw, don't be too hard on Beth. She's venting.

Christine: you've probably read this in the how-to writing books, but the most common advice is to write the rough draft as quickly as possible, then begin revisions. I can't do that. I can't bring myself to write a 'fast' anything, since a crappy sentence locks me up faster than a rejection slip. So: the initial writing process is slower, but I end up with something which (hopefully) won't need a lot of work in the end. Judging from my wife's reaction, I'm there. She's found very little to bitch about so far, and she's a stern critic.

As I reread, I'm finding a lot little things to fix:

Too many semicolons, colons, em dashes

Too many 'was's

Too many 'was (verb)ing' constructions

Too many clunky speaker attributions

Occasional diction problems ('Come on, he wouldn't use that word')

So far, however, we're not finding any unfixable plot problems. Unfortunately, I'm also finding very few scenes to cut.

As for the recommendation to shelve it for a while: yeah, I've heard this too, but there's a topicality to this story that makes me want to get it out before the present mess in the world turns into something else.

8/21/2005 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Gabriele C. said...

See Doug, that's the reason why you should join Forward Motion and especially the FM chat; then you would know why Beth wants to kill men. :)

8/21/2005 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

No need to defend me, Doug. I AM a real winner!

(And I jump into FM chat maybe once every 6 months, anymore, so don't join on my account. Besides - my current venting wasn't about the Jerk At Work.)

But anyway, as regards editing. I always say, do it whichever way seems best to you. Everyone has a method and most seem ridiculously complicated to me. For me, it's just "read through it and fix anything that's wrong." But I write a very clean ms (and have a ludicrously simplistic approach to writing) so don't go by me. What I WILL say is that you should do 2 rounds of edits - one to clean things up to your own satisfaction, and then another one after you get feedback from a good reader. And probably give yourself at least a few weeks after the feedback to dig into those edits.

And there you have the .02 of this prize among women.

8/21/2005 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger Gabriele C. said...

Beth, you should come more often. We have a lot of fun.

The Jerk triggered the Pirate rant, didn't he? You should indeed flip him on his back and walk over him with those boots. Who knows, maybe he'll like it. *grin*

I'm not yet in the editing stage, except for Kings an Rebels (former The Exiles) but that's a special case. Since I outline very detailed, and edit a lot while I go, I don't think there will be big stuff amiss. Like Beth, probably one pass, and another after those poor victims aka first readers got their say.

8/21/2005 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Ah, but you guys are forgetting the wonderful beta readers I've had all along. I couldn't have done it without them.

I will be making two passes, maybe even three. Maybe I'll even see if any new beta readers will come out of the woodwork, but with such a huge manuscript, I hate imposing.

8/21/2005 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger Wynn Bexton said...

Hey, nice to meet another writer here on the blogspot. I do block editing (chapter sections) and I have to edit on hard copy, although I can do little things on the computer. (Love the feel of the red pen in my hand!) I also belong to a very good critique group so that is helpful when editing needs to be done.

Six months to leave a MSS is too long! But just walking away for a few days (no longer than a week) is often a good tactic. You can see things with 'new' eyes and it makes editing much easier.

8/21/2005 10:55:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Hi Wynn,

Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, I would never have the patience to wait 6 months. Several days is no prob -- my day job keeps me away from the manuscript at least that long.

Come 'round more often. I'm usually more entertaining than this (or I try to be).

8/21/2005 11:03:00 PM  
Anonymous F. O'Brien Andrew said...

Hi. Been lurking around your blog lately. Thought I'd stop in, say hi and point out something obvious.

If you removed number 4 from your list of things that had to get done, you could have eliminated number 5 and saved yourself some time. Eating is over-rated.


-- F

8/22/2005 08:35:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

So . . . you don't subscribe to the 'work out like crazy so that you can eat like a pig' diet?

For the record, I didn't eat the candied yams ;o) Thanks for stopping by.

8/22/2005 11:51:00 AM  
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