June 15, 2004

In Which I Share Valuable Lessons I Have Learned!

SO I have been through gods in Alabama once with a fine tooth comb and am now going through again double checking my decisions. I will be done by Wednesday. I WILL. OR I will hurl myself off the high high cliffs onto the jagged rocks below where I will lie dead and broken until the tide comes in and allows the hungry crabs to eat me. One of the two.

Here are all the things no one ever told you about copy editing, but if you plan to be a novelist, you should know so you do not get blindsided.

1) You are not THAT stupid. AND you can write. Really. EVERYONE's book has little squirrely marks on every page. Or everyone I know and was able to ask SAID they did.

2) It's good to LIE. If you get copy edited and all you have is like, one or two little squiggly lines per chapter, and some OTHER writer calls you weeping and says THIS HAS COMMA SPLICES AND SPLIT INFINITIVES AND CRAP I HAVE TO FIGURE OUT OR DECIDE OR CLARIFY OR CHANGE ON EVERY PAGE your answer is an IMMEDIATE and CHEERFUL, "Of course it does! That is totally NORMAL! Come away from the cliff, we can drop down chicken legs for the crabs!"

3) COPY EDITS are really IT. The END. The LAST CHANCE. Fix everything. Even if you are behind on your schedule for the second book which is due ANY MINUTE, stop. Put it away. Copy Edit. Because once the thing is type-set. that's it. That is pretty much your book. Oh sure you can correct a mis-spelling or whatnot, but it will cost the house a LOT of money and irk them, and at that point you can't suddenly rip out a whole chapter and replace it. The way you send it back to the production editor is the way it will be, world without end, forever and ever, amen. NO PRESSURE OR ANYTHING THOUGH.

4) STET is your friend. By every change you have to write OKAY (as in the change can stay) or STET meaning CLAWS OFF, YOU HARPIES. I was upset because the copy editor unsplit all my infinitives and here down south, we SPLIT them. We also LOVE to end a sentence with a good preposition. In copy editing Rock-Paper-Scissors, I play like this: Clarity drowns Voice, but Voice beats the crap out of Correct Grammar.

Posted by joshilyn at June 15, 2004 9:28 AM

...and Correct Grammer invites Clarity for tea and cakes where they talk politely about what a Phillistine Voice is.

Posted by: Mr. Husband at June 15, 2004 1:22 PM

I do not look forward to this process. Eeek

Posted by: Tiff at June 15, 2004 8:02 PM

Sure you do! *grin*

These are the problems I worked for ten years to have, and I am, I swear to you, enjoying the heck out of them. I just enjoy fussing -- see the June 4th blog entry.

It IS scary and IS difficult to make decisions on some of these changes, but when I back up a step I think it's JUST SO COOL to know that soon, on June 22nd, this book will be OUT OF MY HANDS. It will be whatever it will be forever, and part of knowing that I CAN NOT make big changes is also knowing that I DO NOT HAVE TO make them. I am a MONSTROUS revisionist -- I never stop fussing and noodling with things until they are published and out of my grasp.

Posted by: Joshilyn at June 15, 2004 8:42 PM