Crossed the Finish Line!

I finished my final draft of my manuscript and submitted it to my editor yesterday. Whew! I’m not sure I can even begin to describe how stressful the final haul was, and it was all entirely unnecessary. The reality is that I discovered a couple of things late into my editing process that, by the time I discovered them, my deadline was looming and that meant I had precious little time to get through those processes.

One of them turned out to be a piece of software that I discovered thanks to Smart Self-Publishing by Zoe Winters. This may be getting a little too inside baseball for my purposes here of sharing what’s going on, but as it so happens, there are some pretty smart people who have whipped up software that makes me think of Word’s grammar checker, only on steroids. And meth. And cocaine. And any other stimulant you can think of. Maybe caffeine, for instance.

Anyhow, Editor, as it is know, is a fairly simple program that, when used wisely, can greatly improve your work if you’ve been lazy or have picked up bad habits along the way. In my case, it’s probably a little of both. Regardless, the software, in a nutshell, basically analyzes your writing and makes a bunch of observations and suggestions and leaves the work to you. Because it analyzes so many different kinds of things, you can end up with an exhaustive list of items to check off. In my case, it turned out to be thousands of things that I decided to go through to polish up my work.

Was it worth it? I think so. As I said earlier, I’ve picked up a few bad habits over the years and Editor did a good job of pointing those out. Those are things that an editor would likely pick out, but why send something to your editor to fix when you can fix it before they ever see it?

The second thing, a technique, really, that I ran into was the idea of reading the manuscript aloud. I talked a little about this technique in my previous post, Revision is a Marathon, Not a Sprint — Usually, and now that I’ve had the time to do it, I have a few observations to make.

First, if you’re the type of person that dislikes public speaking (that is commonly the number one item on lists that rank fears), or if you dislike the sound of your own voice, then reading your manuscript aloud may not come easily. It took me a little while to get used to the idea of reading it aloud and hearing myself, but I quickly realized two things: 1) the cat and dog don’t care that I’m talking to myself and; 2) it’s incredibly effective.

I’m not sure I can remember everything I changed or fixed at this point even though I did my verbal read-through yesterday in its entirety (it takes a surprisingly long time to do it), but it was a lot. A whole heck of a lot.

Missing words, extra words, wrong words, all of these things stick out when you read your story aloud. It’s surprisingly common to read right over them when you’re reading it on the same screen you’re writing on (changing to a different screen or printing it out helps in this regard). Reading your story aloud, however? They really stand out.

And it’s not just simple things like that, but continuity issues, the general flow of the story, the kinds of things that the writer commonly misses because they’re too close to the story are much easier to catch when you’re reading aloud.

Even though I think my story is better for doing it, I had one heck of a wicked sore throat last night, and it has persisted into today.

I’ll take a sore throat in exchange for a better story any day. Now it’s a waiting game. Oh, and time to find a cover artist.

No rest for the weary.

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