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Things that make you glad you read the ms. one more time... - MoonScape [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Things that make you glad you read the ms. one more time... [Jan. 4th, 2012|09:48 am]
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Or, why you can't depend on spell-check or grammar check.

"She had to kill a Marshal back in spring, before you got her," is not the same as "She had to kill a Marshal back in spring, before you got here." 

One little letter.  So much wrong with its absence.

Read your manuscript again. 


[User Picture]From: merseine
2012-01-04 06:42 pm (UTC)

LJ needs a "like" button.

Everyone - EVERYone - needs an editor. It is always heartening to hear that the professionals are just as prone to dumb mistakes as are the rest of us.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-01-05 12:47 am (UTC)

Re: LJ needs a "like" button.

Agreed. And we need help at different levels. Word by word editing, as this morning's discovery was. Continuity editing, something my husband's good at: "Honey, this guy holding the horses--didn't he die in the previous chapter?" Structural editing: "This is beautifully written and very evocative, but...it's not connected to the plot."

Particularly novelists, I think--and even more particularly long-form novelists who write multi-volume stories--simply cannot hold everything in complete recall in their heads at once. As my computer occasionally tells me, "working memory insufficient". (OK, it's an old computer. But ANY computer, including the wetware inside my skull.) Where I'm working now, in the Paksworld "storyverse", the background includes five books written 20+ years ago and the new books. Every detail constrains all subsequent details, and since it's fantasy, that means every name of person, place, thing, every cultural custom, every value of every coin...I mix things up sometimes. Alpha readers help. Editors help. Even so...if several of those people start reading for story...stuff slips past us all.

I don't, any more, make some of the typical beginner mistakes I've seen in younger novice writers--those were trained out of me long ago. But I make plenty of others.
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[User Picture]From: countrycousin
2012-01-05 04:06 am (UTC)
Both alternatives sound like they might lead in interesting directions. But I suppose it is better if the alternative and the direction agree . . .
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-01-05 06:12 pm (UTC)
The first sentence could indeed lead in an interesting direction...but not the direction I wanted. (With a change of story-verse, I can see "She had to kill a Marshal last spring before you got her" as perfect for the speaker admiring the retrained Rottweiler the spoken-to person is now letting play with his children.
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From: mardott
2012-01-05 05:47 pm (UTC)
May I add: "And read it again. Even on the fourth pass through mine, I found an error like that. I guess you can never be confident it's perfect.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-01-05 06:08 pm (UTC)
Yup. Hardest to catch are the ones that make sense when you read it again and your mind is blurring because of fatigue or familiarity.

Reading it aloud will catch the most, in my experience. But reading a 170,000 word book aloud over and over takes a lot of time (and a lot of fluid to moisten the throat.)
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[User Picture]From: gifted
2012-01-06 02:45 am (UTC)
Oh yes. Errors are so easy to miss in your own work, especially when you're tired, or too familiar with a passage, and start to glaze over.
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