The Perfect Edit?

Caution – red pen at work. (Also Spoiler Alert – don’t read manuscript if you don’t want spoilers).

 

As of a week and a half ago, I have written three books in the Wil Clarey Series. Books two and three are in rough draft form –

very rough.

Book One – The Impossible Summer is in much better shape. It is as thoroughly self-edited as possible. It is completely ready for professional editors.

So I thought.

In preparation for editing book two, School of Hard Knocks, I read through Book one with an eye toward maintaining continuity through the series. I even made a spreadsheet to list all the named characters and details about them (There are 34 named characters in The Impossible Summer at last count).

Of course, I read my paper manuscript with red pen in hand.

The red pen has a mind of its own. It found several poorly worded sentences, a few unneeded lines, and a handful of typos.

So much for “ready for professional edit.”

If you are a casual reader, you might not realize how many times most books are edited before publishing. I used to think that someone would proofread a manuscript and then it would be printed. That’s just the final step.

Here’s a few of the possible edits a manuscript will go through:

  • Developmental edit – This one can be painful. This type of edit may lead to major restructuring of the story.
  • Structural Edit – May be included with developmental edit. Looks at the flow of the presentation to make sure the reader can follow along.
  • Continuity edit (or fact checking) – I just did a bit of that with Book one. For instance, I realized that July 4th needed to fall on a Tuesday to stay consistent with the calendar I chose for books two and three. It can also include checking for consistency in character names and ages, layout of settings, etc.
  • Copy edit – checks for errors in grammar and spelling.
  • Proofread – checks for typos.

Some edits may be combined or split to suit the publisher and the book. I’ve seen about as many interpretations of editing as I’ve seen articles on the process.

The bottom line is, a good book is the work of the author and several others.

Just like a lawyer representing himself has a fool for a client, the author who self-edits beyond the first couple of edits has a fool for an editor.

As I don’t have the cash to lay out for a series of professional edits, I am praying for a traditional publisher. In the meantime, realize that any excerpts you may see here or at WilClarey.com may not be as they get published.

I promise you that I will not publish whole books without completing the editing process. I’m not that cruel.

Okay, maybe I’m a little cruel.

These blogs and my Christmas stories are self edited.

I hope you enjoy them anyway!

Moments that Move

Bob Wiley (bobble head) is excited to see the end of the book.

One day last week, I was typing along, trying to wrap up the rough draft of Wil Clarey: The Mystery at the Mill, when I got to the end of a paragraph and tears threatened to spill from my eyes.

No, it wasn’t some emotional scene.

It just hit me, as the last few words hit the page, that it was the end of the book.

With my busy schedule, it has taken me over a year and a half to write it.

It was a momentous occasion!

I was brought up to stuff emotions inside.

“If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about”

was heard around my childhood home more than once.

Later in life, even my father realized how destructive that phrase was.

Now I’m a big softy.

My kids like watching emotional movies with me so they can see me cry. Of course, I use the “I’m just stuffed up” excuse every time but they know better.

The same thing happens to me at a powerful worship service – especially if we sing songs that hold nostalgic significance to me.

Brant Hansen writes about having experienced emotional envy. (Blessed are the Misfits c. 2017, Brant Hansen). Being on the autism spectrum, situations that would be emotional to others didn’t faze him. He makes the point that those experiences and the faith that goes with them are not dependent on emotion.

When I lived in Arizona, I attended a church where the worship leader got so emotional every week that it distracted me from the worship experience. After a couple of months there, I ended up going to a different church because of it.

Worship can be an emotional experience.

So, what am I trying to say?

Is emotion good or not?

Anyone who has experienced tears of joy should be able to tell you that emotion is good. I agree. But,

Emotion should never take the place of faith.

Faith will produce an emotional response in most people. But faith based on emotional experiences has an unstable foundation.

In preparing for this blog, I tried to think of experiences I’ve had that were emotional. There were many. But it wasn’t the emotional response, but the situation and the faith involved in it that were life changing.

I could go on and on about emotions. There are so many negative emotions that can make people feel trapped.

I’ve been there.

I can offer no easy escape, but I can say that positive emotions help.

So, next time that song has you in tears, that unexpected blessing brings tears of joy, or that leap of faith brings release from anxiety, savor the emotional experience without basing your life on it.

You may just find those flashes of joy help light the way to an emotionally and spiritually healthy life based on

truth and faith.

Old Dog, New Tricks

Due to COVID, I currently work in a hospital print shop. I have for the last 7 months. With the help of my coworkers, I’ve acquired several new skills.

Newly acquired skill, painting with glue.

We often have people from other locations help us out as we are the busiest print shop in our company in this area. One day, a guy I’ll call George (not his name) was helping us. He was at the workstation next to mine and was applying a second coat of glue to a project that I was taught only needed one coat.

I was curious. Did I miss something? I asked, “Hey George, didn’t you glue that already?”

Maybe I phrased that wrong because his reply was almost violent. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years, don’t tell me how to do my job!”

I was stunned silent. I thought about explaining that I was just curious but he shoved his earbuds back in and went about his redundant work.

I had to wonder, “Do I get that way?” When someone criticizes my writing, do I get defensive, or do I try to learn.

I have to admit, I sometimes get defensive. When someone points out an issue, I’ll try to explain it away. My reaction should be to learn from that criticism. Even if the critic has no writing experience, they have reading experience and can tell when something doesn’t sound right.

This old dog can learn new tricks. I was over 50 when I started getting serious about writing. I have learned a ton last few years. I still have a lot to learn.

In just a few days I take off on a road trip bound for the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference. I hope to refine my writing more and make some great connections.

I will be vlogging my road trip and time at the conference on The Wandering Pen, my YouTube writing channel. I can’t guarantee that I will be posting every day as I will be busy but I will do my best to make it fun and informative. See you there!

Oh, and if you criticize my videos, I’ll try to appreciate it and learn how to do them better.