Just finished editing Trust No One. It’s taken me about a week.
I’m treating my mysteries as first drafts, even though they might have been polished drafts at one time. I printed it out, did a paper edit. Then, a major rewrite, in the last six months. Let it sit a month, and have another go at it.
Amazing how much crap I found in it still. So I’ll leave it another week, and read it one last time. A proofing read. When you make a lot of edits, you’re likely to add a few problems along the way. An extra word left in, a word not completely removed, and so on.
I followed that same process for Everybody Lies and still had to revise it twice after it went live. The miracle of epublishing is the ability to revise a published work. I can’t begin to describe what a miracle that seems — maybe it takes 37 years in journalism to fully appreciate that.
In the best of all worlds, I’d have a professional copy editor. I tell my students that everyone needs an editor — and then I’d make them edit my stuff. But I’d still do all these steps myself. This book has been read by several people. They catch stuff, and offer good insights, but, I still find things they missed. Maybe it is arrogance, but I’m still the best editor I know. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like another editor. Just means that it is always worth one last look.
So what do I find?
Well, first, the technology of reporting was dated. All of that had to be updated, from tape recorders to digital devices, from darkrooms to photoshop. The plight of metro newspapers needed to be inserted into the background. (it will become more prominent in future books.)
Second, I brought it forward in time. Historical references all had to be updated. While a timeline helped keep the characters’ lives in order and in sync, I still had to worry about current events — especially in regards to wars and military actions. (See previous post.)
Third, I had made changes in earlier versions, changing the newspaper from the PI (a real newspaper) to the examiner (a fictional one). Two key characters had name changes. There were “goobers” left behind. Partly this is because the book was originally written with each chapter in a separate file. Global searches had to be done 20-40 times. Missed a chapter changing Kristy’s name. And just missed one or two instances with Stan Warren and the PI.
Fourth, is the actually copy editing. Making sure that characters stay in voice. Eliminating extra words. Tightening here, expanding there. Catching misspelled words that a spellcheck can’t get — proving yet against that humans are smarter than computers. Checking for extra spaces after periods.
So it’s pretty clean. Next week it will be really clean, and ready to go.