I’ve done a lot of research to figure out the best way I could pre-edit my book. It’s been said that if an author can do some major grunt work on their own, finding their errors, etc.–then an editor would not need to spend all their time fixing minor stuff and have time to work on the big issues. That’s what we pay editors to do. It ends up saving the author money.
I knew that if I weren’t the type of person who finds errors (sometimes way too many) in fiction books (I really am that type of person), I’d hire a proofreader.
On my own, I used spell-check and made sure the “grammar” box was checked, too. But as we’re probably all familiar with, spell check does not catch all spelling errors. It doesn’t know the difference between they’re, their, and there. That is something a good proofreader would note.
I made a list of things to do, curated from lots of articles and some books. This list is not in any particular order. I present to you what I did.
Used the “search and replace” feature to find where I had spaced twice after each period at the end of a sentence. The industry standard is now just one space after a period. I heard publishing houses won’t even look at a manuscript if you have this error. So, I took out all extra spaces.
Searched for any words like “brightly”, “sadly” …words ending with an ‘ly’. Too many of those in a piece is like a death knell to your writing. Instead I figured out ways to replace those words with better ones.
If I found any paragraphs that had all the same length, I’d vary it here and there. Sometimes a one-sentence paragraph can look really good between two larger paragraphs. It adds curiosity or can make a very good point. It also gives readers’ eyes a break.
If I had any questions about the names I used in the book (for instance, if I called a character one name in the beginning and middle but called them a different name in the end of the book), I’d make a note of it and again use the search feature to find all the instances and correct them). Conflicting items in a book are what we call continuity issues. An example that I saw in a book was where the couple was driving in a truck. When they park the truck, the guy walks in front of the truck to open his wife’s door–but now the author calls it a ‘car’.
Next week: working with an editor.
Photo by Green Chameleon of Unsplash