I thought I was rather good at noticing mistakes in writing, and because of this, I was confident I would be able to proof read and edit my story myself.
I was right about being able to pick the mistakes in writing, I was just wrong about certain aspects of that assumption. Firstly, that I would be able to pick all the mistakes in a 100,000+ word story, and that I would be able to pick the mistakes from my own writing. I wrote the story. I read what was supposed to be there, instead of what should have been there. Much like I did when I played the piano. I played what I thought the song should sound like, not the notes the sheet of music in front of me told me to play.
If you read one of the earlier versions of Girl Behind Glass, I’m sure you picked out some of the mistakes. To be honest, I hate even thinking about it. But I vowed when I started writing this blog series that I would be honest about my writing journey and this is part of mine. There were mistakes. I corrected the mistakes, uploaded the book to Createspace to get the paperback copies, and when my proof copy arrived, I read it.
I found more mistakes.
I felt sick.
The book was already out there as an ebook. I knew that people would see these mistakes. Most of the errors were silly ones, typos. I knew better than to make these mistakes, but somehow they had escaped me. I should have known better.
I scolded myself and deliberated never writing again, but then I pulled up my big girl pants and set off to correct the errors.
I made GBG free not long after that, and got a nice number of downloads. Some of the feedback I received mentioned some typos in my book, and so I read it again, and once more fell flat on my face when I realised that there were still mistakes. I’m sure everyone at some stage or another in their lives have experienced that ball of dread, that nauseating feeling in the pit of your stomach when you know you have made a mistake. I hate that feeling, but I had to overcome it, rather than succumb. I changed the mistakes I found and even sent Amazon an email stating that I had corrected some errors in my book and they offered an ‘update book’ option which I blogged about a little earlier this year.
Then I started the editing process for GBS. I knew a lot more than I did before, but still the errors escaped me. So I identified my weaknesses and started coming up with methods to correct them.
This is a very brief outline of some of the methods I used:
I read the manuscript on my computer and corrected the mistakes as I went along.
I read a printed out copy of the manuscript and highlighted the mistakes which I later corrected.
I gave printed copies of the manuscript to my beta readers and altered the errors based on their feedback.
I listened to a computerised voice read out my novel while I read along on the computer. I found this method very effective as it showed those little errors that my eyes glossed over.
While on a 12 hour road trip, I listened to my story, pulling aside to highlight any errors I heard on a printed copy on the passenger seat beside me.
I re-read the final printed version.
Now I’m sure there are still mistakes, and I’m sure I will make more in the future, but I do feel like I’ve learned a lot, and that with each book I write, I will improve. Editing also involved fleshing out scenes that were too light and cutting scenes which were unnecessary. I added over 3000 words to the final manuscript of GBS and cut over 4000. It is a hard but necessary part of the process. If a scene was boring to write, no doubt it would be boring to read. If I hesitated or felt unhappy with a scene, I cut it. There must have been a reason I felt that way even if I couldn’t pin point it. In the first draft of GBG, Bracken actually shoots Willow at the end. Things change. Plots change. I needed to allow for that.
And I still feel sick about the copies that exist out there with errors. But there is nothing to do other than own my mistakes, and endeavour to do better.
P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUM!
The next post will be published on 1st October.
*If you haven’t read Girl Behind Glass yet, it is currently free in the Kindle store – http://goo.gl/KUGZrA