Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Monday, March 19, 2012

The read-through: What I missed last time

Given how delayed things are with my books, people must wonder why I would want to delay things any further with YET MORE editing, revising and proofreading of manuscripts. As if, the manuscript is done already! Send it in! But, no, I can’t submit a manuscript just because it’s “done.” Because, the truth is, a manuscript is never “done.” There’s always something that can be overlooked.

For example, take my novel, Shadow of Samhain. I was asked to rewrite it so I got to work on that. The process took some time. And when I was done with the rewrite, I knew I had to revise and edit the manuscript just to make sure everything was in order. That phase is complete but I had to give the manuscript one more read-through, just to see if I have missed anything.

And, actually, I missed quite a bit.

In reading through the manuscript, I have noticed these problems:

Inconsistencies. In one chapter, a character’s apartment was on the second floor. In a later chapter, it’s on the ground floor. Whoops!

Another inconsistency I noticed was the number of scenes in each chapter. In a previous draft, the number of scenes varied, and some of them were too long. This time around, I wanted all the chapters to each have two scenes. A couple of chapters only had one scene, so I fixed this in this go-round.

Lack of detail. What does somebody look like? What are they wearing? What does a room look like? What kinds of things does the character have with them or in their room? What kind of job does this character have? Etc.

Head hopping. This is, unfortunately, one of my bad habits as a writer. I start a scene in one character’s POV and end up sharing what everybody else is thinking, seeing and feeling. But if it’s in one character’s point-of-view, then I need to stick with that. I did notice this happen in one scene and I’m grateful I caught that mistake this time.

What happens next. At the very end of the story, I neglected to fill in the details on what kind of changes were made in my character’s life following the Very Big Thing she just went through. Granted, not every novel should tell readers what characters are going to do with their lives after “The End,” but given that my character went through a life-changing ordeal, I thought it was important to share what’s going to happen in my character’s life after the very last sentence. What changes does she make? What will she do with her life now? I don’t fill in ALL of the details – I leave some room for the readers to come up with something – but I do cover the important stuff.

Now that I’ve gotten through all of that, I’m sending the manuscript off to my readers. Once I get their feedback, I’ll make any needed changes then send the manuscript to my publisher.

Obviously, you can never catch ALL of the mistakes in a manuscript with just one go. It takes several reads and even extra eyes to catch things. That is one thing I have learned from this. Doing another read-through of my manuscript has also reminded me of how you REALLY need to love the book you have written – whether it is a novel or nonfiction. You REALLY have to WANT to read your book again and again and again. You have to LOVE your book and even enjoy the reading experience. I certainly enjoyed reading and rereading this novel; I actually liked spending time with my characters and telling their stories. I just didn’t tire of it, and that is helpful in keeping that drive to read, reread and reread YET AGAIN to make sure your novel or book is the best it can be.

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  • At 3:36 PM , Blogger Joleene Naylor said...

    I'm going through those stages now, myself. I neglected to notice my main character should have been covered in mud/dirt/etc. and have her out and about later with narry a stray look from anyone else. *sigh*

    on a side note, I've lost your email address - I can't get into my old email anymore and ma now only using joleene (at) joleenenaylor (dot) com. So if you could move my newsletter to that address it would be awesome :) Also, I gave you a blog award, too, LOL! - http://joleenenaylor.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/lovely-award-and-updates/

  • At 8:41 AM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    It's amazing what we end up missing, isn't it? This is why I TOTALLY support rereading a manuscript as much as possible before submitting it. Also, put it away for a while before rereading it -- ALSO if possible. I'm trying to get this manuscript to my publisher by April, so I could only put it "away" for a month while my betas attack it.

    And thanks for letting me know about your email addy. :) I have updated that information on my mailing list.

    And thanks so much for the blog award! You rock! :)


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