This month, I hope to give out editing copies of my novel, The Fantastical Journey of Gavryn Wickert. I’m writing this post for anyone who wants to help. All you need is…
- The book. (I have a select team who will receive it from me for free in exchange for valuable edits.)
- A pencil. (Or pen.)
These are the general guidelines for editing, just so communication is efficient and consistent.
1. Grammar and Spelling
I expect the most common errors you find will be somewhat-obvious grammar mistakes like “at” instead of “and,” “they’re/there/their,” “we’re/were/where,” and the like. In the interest of making good use of your time, I’ve tried to get as many of these out as possible, but I’m sure there are a few lurking in the shadows. You’ll also find words that should be one word, like “in to.” I’ll get into the methods of pointing this out in a bit.
In terms of spelling, spell check has helped me to spell words right, but often it helps me spell the wrong word right. If you see a word that you think may not be the intended one, just point it out. (Note: there are also a few words that have originated in this fantasy land, and unless you notice an inconsistency, you don’t need to worry about those.)
If you see a grammar issue, just cross out the error and write the correct word(s) above or below it on the page. Same with spelling.
You may have already realized; I do some weird things with punctuation that I’m not always sure is right, but I think it sounds nice or looks nice, so I do it. Again, if you think something is wrong, just point it out. Place the correct punctuation beside it if you think I should replace it, or put a slash through it if no punctuation is needed.
3. Storyline Consistency
Someone once said, “consistency is the easiest way to cover up one’s mistakes.” Just kidding, I made it up. This is a real problem in writing. You write a few chapters, take a break, and come back two weeks later, not realizing you killed a character last writing session. Readers will wonder why this ghost has now appeared and the other characters don’t see anything unusual about it. So, if you see a plot hole or an inconsistency, just point it out and explain in the margins!
4. Storyline Advice
Now, don’t take this too far. At this point, I’m willing to alter about 2% of those 60,000 words. I’m not really in for an overhaul, here. That said, if you think something should be changed slightly, please feel free to mention it in the margins. For instance, if you think a different character should say a line of dialogue, or if you think something isn’t explained adequately, just point it out.
I’d really like to add more description to the novel, but I’m not always sure where to put it or if the reader will even want it. If you’re reading along and suddenly feel that you don’t have a good picture in your mind of the surroundings, just put off to the side, “description of _______ would be good.” Then I’ll know what needs to be explained.
6. THE GOLDEN RULE
This is the most important part. Whenever you make an edit, just put a checkmark in the lower corner of the page. It doesn’t need to be a perfect checkmark, but it needs to be there, or I may never find your edits on that particular page. I can’t read each copy of the book, looking for edits! That would take like at least 25 hours. This way, I can skim through the book, and when I see the checkmark, I can stop and fix things. To be clear, you don’t need a checkmark for every edit on the page, just one to say “there are edits on this page.” Then, once I’ve finished with those edits, I circle the checkmark and know those issues are solved.
Just in case you begin reading and feel the weight of proofreading settle on you, just know that there are others helping as well. If you notice something, point it out, but don’t feel like you are the sole bearer of all problems and you must solve them all for me. Just read the book and enjoy it!