It’s the last Friday of the month and you know what that means! It’s ᖇEᗩᗪ ᗩᖇOᑌᑎᗪ TᕼE ᖇᗩIᑎᗷOᗯ time!

٩(θ ‿ θ)۶

This month’s topic is…

After “The End”

I love this month’s topic! I suppose there might be several ways to look at it, like do I celebrate and treat myself to something special? A meal out, a sweet treat, or some item I’ve had my eye on? No, I don’t, so I’m not going to spend time talking about that.

Or I could talk about writing the blurb, working up a cover concept, or marketing concerns, but although I might finish up the blurb or cover concept after typing “the end,” I’ve usually got a good start on them by that point. It’s all part of the procrastination process of things I do when I should be writing. But hey, I try not to be too pushy with the muse, and as procrastination projects go, at least those are constructive. Marketing stuff mostly comes later, though, since it helps to have the actual cover first, but I’ll often have a start on that, too.

So I won’t talk about that, here, either. When I look at this month’s topic title I think of it as a question of the editing process.

Perhaps I like this subject because I rather enjoy the editing process? That, and I really believe in the necessity of each step. I’m a perfectionist and want my stories to be the best they can be. The three broad steps I follow (some of which might break down into smaller steps) are (1) self editing, (2) beta reader feedback, and (3) editor changes/feedback.

First, I should point out that my writing style includes frequently going back and rereading my WiP from the beginning (or from appropriate checkpoints, later in the writing process) and tweaking/adding/deleting bits as I go to better mesh with things that were written later on.

Leaning toward the pantser end of the pantser/planner continuum I also tend to dump a lot of info initially that I intend (even as I’m doing it) to eventually work into the story more organically, so I then go back and clean up the info-dumpy stuff. In the meantime, it stays as a reminder that it needs to be handled in a better way at some point later in the story. I try not to leave that for the beta reader to point at, but alas, sometimes there’s a deadline staring me down. *cough* Luck of the Draw *cough*cough* Sorry Nell! *cough*

During this phase 1, self-editing process, I’m on the lookout for all three of the levels of editing concerns. Content editing: how’s the pacing…have I addressed any continuity concerns I might have created with my later story additions? Line editing: am I feeling the emotions I should for each scene…showing the actions rather than simply telling what the character is doing/feeling? Copy editing: the more passes the better to catch typos or embarrassing use of homophones, missed punctuation, etc.

All that, plus, I don’t seem to be capable of just throwing down words without agonizing over the phrasing in the first place. Point being, by the time I type the words “the end,” my first draft is by no means “rough.” It runs contrary to a lot of the “advice” we see out there, but this is the process that works for me.

Still, I don’t like to send it out to betas until I’ve put it aside for a few days (unless I do something silly like sign up for a themed call with a deadline, which I always seem to cut too close no matter how much time I think I have for it), before reading it again with fresh eyes.

Then, it’s ready for a beta reader or two or more. I’m happy for whatever feedback happens to be in that particular reader’s wheelhouse. General storyline commentary? I want to hear it. Not feeling what you should for a particular scene? You don’t know what the fuq is going on in this scene? Is something being over-emphasized? I want to know. Embarrassing copy edit errors that have slipped through? Definitely point it out. Dear Beta Reader, don’t hold back!

The beta step is so important. I don’t care how good of a writer someone either is or isn’t, we are too close to our stories to be able to judge whether or not a point is being properly made to someone who doesn’t already have the story essentially memorized or if something would be confusing to the average reader. Maybe I’ve just had good luck with beta readers, but I generally agree with their commentary and find some way to address concerns in one way or another. Often the necessary tweaks are minimal, occasionally a bit more expansive.

Sometimes it’s not even possible to please every beta reader. Closets Are for Clothes comes to mind for this. There was one particular line that, for whatever reason, stood out, and every single beta reader commented on it. All but one simply commented how much they loved the line (because beta readers are lovely people who try to pepper in a few attaboys around their critical commentary), but one beta reader didn’t like the line (or thought readers wouldn’t like it?) and suggested it be changed. Alas. I personally liked the line myself, so I kept it.

After all the beta changes have been made, I like to let the manuscript sit for a day or more again before giving it another critical read-through myself. Finally, it’s ready to send in to my publisher, where it’ll eventually be forwarded to my fabulous editor.

Thankfully, I’ve paid attention and tried to learn a little more with each story’s edits and look for my problem areas so he doesn’t have to bleed all over it quite as thoroughly as with my earlier efforts. Still, he manages to find a respectable amount. Often it’s commas, and sometimes it’s overuse of a word in close proximity that has seeped all the way through to that step. And there’ll be the occasional random thing wrong, too. I usually agree with 99.9% of his suggested changes.

Before turning it back in after I’ve gone over the edits and added a few more of my own, I’ve got a new step that I’ve added to my process. I’ll save a separate copy of the manuscript where I’ll accept all the edits, then change the font to courier new, increase the size just a bit, and painstakingly read the whole thing aloud to myself. Because, no matter how carefully we think we’re reading something, we often see what we expect to see rather than what’s there. Reading it aloud tends to fix that. In fact, I now do that same thing again with the PDF proof, when I receive it, this time in the publisher’s font.

I don’t typically print out my manuscript to read/edit it. There have been a few exceptions, but having a physical copy was more for making it easier to figure out how to arrange things. The big exception is ’Til Death Do Us Part, where I had papers scattered everywhere as I was sorting out how to pair up Henry’s scenes to Sam’s scenes, and where to put each of the flashback scenes.

Anyway, if there are any copy edit/typo/proof reading errors in Luck of the Draw, those determined bastards made it through all of that, so my hat’s off to them.

WEBRING ~ Read Around the Rainbow!

Be sure to flip through the webring to read your favorite authors’ takes on this topic! For your convenience, here are direct links to the other WebRing participants’ posts for this month’s topic:

Read around the Rainbow

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14 thoughts on “READ AROUND THE RAINBOW ~ After “The End” #RAtR

        1. Since I’d started doing the read aloud to myself thing at two different stages, I should probably bump that back to once and have Word read it for me the other time.

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