This isn’t your mother’s copyediting

All right, guys, you win. I’ve just started editing the manuscript. It cost me ten bux to print it off at the local college, but I bicycled home with a ream of paper in my bag and grinned like a total fool. Take that, you gorgeous spandexed runners, I have a fucking book manuscript in my bag. (Unfortunately, yes, that’s how my mind runs a lot of the time.)

I sat down to do a read through. This is not like copyediting at all. I have no distance. I have no inner resources. I look at it and am in awe. I’m not in awe of myself, rather I’m in awe of the incredible amount of work it’s going to take to live up to my one or two killer sentences. They all have to be killer sentences.

And it turns out that my clever organization scheme sucks. But that’s OK, I can rearrange. I figure I have to rearrange before I try to make all my sentences pretty, right? One of the reasons I printed the damn thing out is that I have said a majority of the things I need to say. I have no ending, yet, but that doesn’t concern me. I still have to do some research, but I have a few phrases on each research page so I know in general where I need to go with it.

I’m somewhere between philosophical about it all and horrified. I sound all cool and collected, like I know what I’m doing, but how the fuck do I make the right editing decisions??? All tips welcome.


11 responses to “This isn’t your mother’s copyediting

  1. “Take that, you gorgeous spandexed runners. I have a book manuscript in my bag.”
    Yes, good, you printed it. Good call on not getting to pretty sentences yet. My plan, is going through, getting rid of sections that don’t belong, marking where it is working but needs some pretty, and then going through again for sentences.

    I hope you still have the fairy wand…

  2. We are in sync. I sat down at the computer today and realized it’s become to big to handle on the computer – it still needs a ton of work and more words, but I forget what came first, what’s happening next, have I already referred to this, etc etc.

    So, I’m going to PTF- Print the Fucker – and then we’ll rumble. It could get ugly. No tips from me, but please share if you get any.

  3. I say just go with whatever is your first instinct. Don’t over think it too much. Do a first run and leave it for a while, come back and see where you’re at. Oh and try to do it sober. Very exciting!!

    As an aside, I finally met my copyeditor in Newfoundland, that nameless, faceless person who turned my manuscript into a sea of red ink, that person who I was scared to meet for fear of her thinking me a total ignoramus. She was awesome, had loved my book and said it was the best editing job she’d ever had. She didn’t once chastise me for my inability to use a comma correctly.

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