Friday, March 15, 2013

Maybe not Greater, but Better-er



Making copy editing corrections is not the most glamorous job in the world. In fact, I think it’s one of the most humiliating things out there.

I am a writer. I create WORLDS! I invent THINGS! I describe the INDESCRIBABLE!

 But I can’t spell worth shit.

And I’m bat blind to the dumbest mistakes.

Yes, going through the many, many, many pages of basic copy editing corrections I paid for. It’s the second book of the Caribbean Spell Series, Red Sean’s Revenge, and it’s a bigger book. I think it’s even more exciting and I do some DASTARDLY things to my heroine. I’m NASTY.

But geez, I’m an idiot.

Okay, firstly, I capitalized every usage of the title governor, commodore, captain, ma’am, lady, m’lady and more I’m sure I just haven’t found yet.

Secondly, I had changed the hero’s name. From Jack to Jake. Which meant that manjack became manjake. Jackson became Jakeson.  (I changed that one to Jacob.)

I also kept dropping the last ‘a’ from Miranda’s name.

How about this one. “…held his tongue, determined to wait out this out.”

(Should be “…held his tongue, determined to wait this out.”)

Or, “…convinced herself not to mad.”

(“…convinced herself not to be mad.”)

Yes, I swear, I was drunk. It’s disheartening to realize how many STUPID mistakes I’ve made. And I’ve read my own words over a dozen times. This story? At least that many times, if not more. (I like to read my own stories, I wrote this a while ago…) And I never saw these things. It’s mortifying.

And it’s a real illustration of why, if you self-publish, you need to either pay for someone to look your stuff over with a red pen or screw your headband on tight and do it yourself. Have it read to you, read it yourself… Any of these would work. I believe.

I’m learning how to be humble this week. Yes, there were things like this in the first book, but not this bad. Not this many. I don’t trust myself to find these things. My eyes are tired, I know the story, my reading speedometer is stuck on sprint car speed…

I’m still humiliated.

But I am gratified to know all of this is being caught. None of my readers, no matter how many or how few, won’t see how riddled with mistakes – typos, misspeaking, bad grammar – and, evidently, I don’t know how to use commas correctly.

Sigh.

The next book, I’m paying my beta copy editor a bonus.

I’m getting better, but I’m not great… I’ve seen some bad mistakes in ebooks the big 5 publishers put out. It’s a bit of a relief. I’m not the only idiot out there.

What tricks do you use to clean up your copy? What do you see when you read that drives you bonkers? Any examples of things you’ve caught in your stories that you want to share?

34 comments:

quantum said...

I've said it many times but will say it again, you should use text-to-speech software to get the computer to read your work back to you. That will pick up many of the flaws/errors.

If you are technically minded, I think that there are text editors available which use regular expressions (pattern matching) so that for example when replacing Jack with Jake you make sure that only complete words (with word boundaries right and left) are replaced.

Doesn't Microsoft Word have a spell check/ grammar check ..... though it might be tedious if your using that pirate dictionary! LOL

I think perhaps you should talk to Miranda before doing dastardly things to her. Could be that all these errors are her way of getting back at you!

I hope 'Red Sean’s Revenge' is scheduled to appear soon. I wanna order my copy now!

Marnee Bailey said...

I add extra words. I make a sentence way longer than necessary. In revision, I make a pass to make it more concise. It's maddening; I stare at each sentence and find words to cut.

It always reads tighter afterwards. But while I'm doing it I curse myself for adding all that stuff in there.

Good luck with Red Sean's Revenge!!

MsHellion said...

WHY are you humiliated? You're human. You're not a robot. Just because you thought it was perfect or "nearly" so isn't a reason to be embarrassed because EVERY writer thinks like that and gets their ass handed to them when they realize they've forgotten words, changed names, used the wrong tense, et al.

So the first thing you should do is drink some rum and settle down. This is a FINISHED novel. It's not like they're picking on "you didn't have a point to this novel" or "nothing happens"--this is the nitpicky shit. Everyone has nitpicky shit. AND YES, if you go to self-publishing route, you should always, always hire an editor because there is no way you're going to catch everything yourself, English major or Grammar Nazi or no.

I think Janga will reference this one--where is she lately anyway? Is she bogged with articles to write??--but read your work aloud. Same premise as what Q suggests but doesn't cost the software. OR better yet, get some sucker to read it aloud for you--because they're unlikely to make the same mind mistakes as you've been doing by adding or deleting words mentally in the sentence.

Maureen said...

Q - I really need to look into that speech thing. I know you've clued me in on it before, but my memory lately - like for the last solid year - had been junk.

I think that would catch most things and yeah, the pirate speak and word don't care for each other.

Yes, I do some horrible things to Miranda, but it's all for the growing experience... I actually wrote a short once where I stumbled into her world and tried to apologize. She wouldn't let me. Said it was all done for and the rewards were worth the pain. That she loved her life, warts and all.

Made me feel a bit better.

Maureen said...

Oh, and Q? Red Sean's Revenge will be out in June!

Maureen said...

Marn, extra words...so like my 'wait out this out" ?

I do find a lot of those, and making sentences overly complex. Though my copy editor doesn't always get that there are times when it's about speech patterns, not me being an idiot.

The bazillion times I've read this book and not caught these things is maddening... It's flattering that I can be swept away by a story that I wrote and not see them, but I can't let it go to print this way!

Maureen said...

Sigh. I know Hels. Actually, I knew this was going to be rough because I wrote it years ago, afor I'd learnt better.

I guess it is heartening to realize that what is wrong isn't the massive passive/tell/POV screwups...it's just words on the dance floor when it isn't their turn.

I did read The Kraken's Mirror aloud and it was great. Took two days and I got hoarse by the end. Okay, so it was a dramatic reading...it's the ham in me...

irisheyes said...

Very, very understandable, Maureen! I have typos in my blog posts, my texts and just about everything else I write. As Hellie said, it's only human. I don't think there is one thing I've typed since I started, oh so many moons ago, that hasn't had an error or two or three or four in it, much to Sister Irene's dismay (my high school typing teacher).

As I was telling Terri a while ago I'm not sure how you don't go cross-eyed reading the stuff you've written over and over and over again. It's gotta be rough, especially because you wrote it and know what you meant to say even if that's not what's on the page now. Very easy to miss stuff. Always have someone else read your work - it's money well spent.

Janga's been sick, Hellie. She postponed her Tuesday blog due to illness. I think she's getting better but taking it slow.

Maureen said...

Thanks, Irish... I think we writers like to consider ourselves able to construct narrative more elegantly than 'mere mortals'... HA!

Hubris is amused.

Sorry to hear Janga has been sick. Man, it's been a rough winter for everyone!

Maureen said...

Wow, the one morning I'm up early to play and the ship is deserted...

Where have all the piratees gone...long time passing...where have all the pirates gone...long time ago...where have all the pirates gone...gone to weekends, everyone. When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn...?

Terri Osburn said...

Today has been just as insane as the rest of the week, but at least this time I got CAKE! Which was so sweet I couldn't finish the one piece. You know that's sweet.

I'm with Hellie. Do not keep throwing around this humiliation stuff. It happens. MEANT TO BE went through 3 rounds of developmental editors, then through three proofers and I took 2 final passes. On the final final pass on Tuesday, I found a word on page 4 that needed to be capitalized.

ALL of those people missed it, just like I did. Life is simply not perfect and never will be. Just last night I was reading an ebook from Avon and at the end was the phrase "...I want to spent the rest of my life with."

You know that book went through countless edits and proofers. And it's AVON! Still a typo. They just happen. The same way socks will always disappear in the laundry. It's part of life.

Maureen said...

I wonder...this Avon book, was it print or e? Because I'm seeing a lot of typos on ebooks. Not sure they are typos or just format problems.

I'm not really beating myself too badly, crew. I'm shaking my head and rolling my eyes a lot. And pounding my head on the table. And thinking this will never end...

But I'm okay!

And hooray for cake!

Terri Osburn said...

That's the point. It will never end. I don't gripe because I have to brush my teeth every morning. They need it, even though I just brushed them before I went to bed.

Books are always going to need editing. There will always be words that sneak in or out. Even though I just edited the thing last week. It's just part of it. Maybe not a fun part, but it's nothing to feel bad about.

Marnee Bailey said...

Yeah, I make my sentences overly complex. I'll add in clauses and I'm the adverb queen. :) It slows things down, though, so I take them out when I get around to that phase of revision.

Terri Osburn said...

That's what I've been doing for 2 days and will be doing all night tonight. Mine aren't overly complex (complexity is NOT my problem lol), but there are extra words I just don't need. It helps when you've been doing nothing BUT editing for 2 weeks because your brain is in razor-mode.

P. Kirby said...

The most irritating and utterly embarrassing writerly sin(s) I perpetrate are basic stuff that I know not to do.

For example, lately my fingers have been typing "their" when I mean "there." WTF? Or using a possessive when I mean plural. I totally know the difference; I sneer nastily at those who don't. But the message hasn't been getting to my fingers.

In the fan fic, I misused (didn't use) the subjunctive tense several times because I decided that it wasn't right. FWIW, I learned tenses by intuition and via reading, but I have a good grasp of the topic, even if I can't exactly tell you why something is wrong or right. But in this case, I went against instinct, and ugh, somewhere in that story, in all its online, exposed glory, are several mistakes of tense.

And...I've been flubbing homonyms like "compliment" and "complement." Recently I used "mute" when I meant "moot."

But, like Terri and others have said. It happens. We're human and all about the erring. (I'm bloody amazed I didn't type "earring.)

Give yourself a break, Ms. Maureen. You're awesome!

Terri Osburn said...

Pat - I had to correct moot to mute just 2 nights ago!

irisheyes said...

Just another slant on this subject - I've been reading words that aren't there, lately! LOL I read a sentence and it doesn't make sense and then I go back and re-read it and it's because I substituted a word in my head for the word that was actually there. It happens way more than I'd like.

And I'm sure by the end of the night, my DH is going to want to hunt you down and do you harm, Maureen! I'm on YouTube playing Peter, Paul and Mary songs! He hates when I get stuck on these guys!

Maureen said...

Hee, Hee.

Terri Osburn said...

Was there a reference to P,P & M today?

Maureen said...

Where have all the pirate gone?

Terri Osburn said...

Okay, now you're just messing with me. So that's the song reference? Or are you really asking? LOL! I need a nap!

Maureen said...

P, P & M did where have all the flowers gone.

Terri Osburn said...

Now see. Why didn't you just spell that out earlier? LOL! You know I don't get these 70s references. (And if that's the 60s, then I'm even more off than I thought.)

irisheyes said...

Wow - really showing my age, here. LOL I started humming along as soon as a I read "long time passing". Then, of course, I had to go YouTube all of my P,P & M favorites. The kids walked in from school and immediately started giving me crap about the depressing stuff I listen to. :)

Terri Osburn said...

Other than Queen and maybe CCR, I'm allergic to most older music. Not all, but a lot, and especially the 70s. No idea why. I'm sure I've heard this song, don't get me wrong. My brain just blocks it out. :)

irisheyes said...

Actually, it was before my time too, but my sister (who is 10 years older than I am) played in a guitar group for church. She played Peter, Paul and Mary a lot. She would play a lot of stuff for me at night before I went to sleep. So, I didn't get all the social relevance of it all - it was just pretty music my big sister played to get me to sleep.

In fact, most of my music tastes stem from all of my brothers and sister. And each one of them took a different path - Beach Boys for one, Carly Simon, Carole King for another, The Allman Brothers and Neil Young for another, Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman for another - lots of eclectic tastes! LOL

Maureen said...

I have a feeling Irish' sibs went to school with mine. I sorta grew up listening to all the anti-war songs. Folk, folk rock... a little Beach Boys, a lotta Carole King. Moody Blues, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Hermit's Hermits, the Beatles, Jethro Tull, Edgar Winter...

Queen is older music? Let's beat her up, Irish.

Terri Osburn said...

Queen came out in the 70s and that's almost 40 years ago. You want to ignore that reality, feel free. LOL! I had one older sibling, but only by 3 years. We listened to mostly the same music. I had Queen, REO Speedwagon, and Journey 8-tracks when I was in 3rd grade.

Heard Another One Bites The Dust this morning and was taken right back in time.

Maureen said...

Queen is timeless. And immortal.

Gods, next thing you know you'll be dissing the Moody Blues!

Terri Osburn said...

Cannot STAND the Moody Blues.

*grabs rum*

*runs off*

irisheyes said...

OMG! I love the Moody Blues. LOL

I thought the same thing when she said Queen, Maureen. Hahaha

Looks like you're right your sibs went to school within mine. All those you mentioned were all on 45s at my house, along with Tommy James and the Shondells, The Beatles and The Monkees. My brother did have REO Speedwagon and Journey, though. In fact, I think REO played at my sister's prom or something like that, or was that Styx. Both bands were from my area so it could have been one or both.

Maureen said...

Lets get her, Irish!

irisheyes said...

within mine.

See! Typo! :)