Monday, March 7, 2011
Things I Wish I'd Known BEFORE I Started The Manuscript
As most of you know I am a debut author whose first book will arrive in a bookstore near you on October 4th. A lot of you out there either are début authors yourself or are multipubs who probably already know what I’m about to talk about. But for those whose manuscripts have never been copy edited, get ready to print out this blog. It’s one you will want to keep by your side when you’re writing.
So, I just finished Book 2, BEEF STOLEN OFF (BSO) and was halfway through the edits when I received the actual copy edits for Book 1, LIVER LET DIE (LLD). No big deal, I thought. Book 2 is due April 1st, Book 1 copy edits—March 28th. I decided I’d just take a quick peak at what the copy editor found before I finished Book 2.
OMG!! Was I ever knocked off my you-think-you’re–so-smart pedestal. Okay, I never really thought that, but I did think I was smart about most grammar things. Think again, Liver girl!! So, I’ve decided to share the things the copy editor corrected in my manuscript.
The number one big thing for me is I apparently didn’t have a clue when to use ellipses and dashes. Here’s what she told me:
Use a three-dot ellipses for all omission. Periods should not proceed ellipses.
Use em dashes for interrupted speech.
An example: She wondered if he loved her--or if he ever had--as he walked toward her.
"I'm not sure you will ever love me the way..." She stopped when he smiled.
Okay, I have been doing this totally wrong. I use… for everything. In reality most of the time when I use it, I really need the em dash. And here’s another goody for you. I discovered you can go to FORMAT, then AUTO FORMAT and hit Options – then unclick everything but under Replace hit “hypen to dash”, which is what the copy editor did throughout my entire manuscript.
Anyway, how much easier can it get? You just have to know the rules.
Another big problem area for me is that I use a lot of made-up words to say something specific. I’ll use this example.
He gave me one of his famous “I want to jump your bones” looks.
Does that look right? If you said yes, you have company and we're both wrong. Here’s her rule on that:
Long adjectival phrases before the noun are hyphenated in narrative, but in dialogue, use single quotes and no hyphens.
He gave me one of his famous I-want-to-jump-your-bones looks.
“Don’t give me one of your ‘I want to jump your bones’ looks.” she said.
See how easy it is when you know the rule!!!
And one last rule: Use commas with internal and terminal too, anyway, either (Exceptions me either, me too.)
You hear a lot of writers saying it is optional—not according to Berkley.
Again these are the things I got back from Berkley’s copy editor. They may change from publisher to publisher.
Oh, I almost forgot. Most of you know I had hand surgery right after Christmas and had to wear three finger braces for 6 weeks. Since my typing sucks anyway, I got Dragon Speaking, a speech recognition software. I talk—it types. I love it except that the quotation marks it uses are smaller than normal and the terminal one points the wrong way. So, I’ve been going back and changing every single one of them by hand. I tried using the Find and Replace feature, but I couldn’t replicate the shorter quotation mark.
Well, guess what? (I get so excited when I discover this kind of stuff.)I discovered an option that you won’t believe. Again, go to FORMAT and AUTO FORMAT. Hit OPTIONS and under REPLACE chick –straight quotes with smart quotes.
Voila! My whole freakin’ manuscript was corrected.
I’m so smart that sometimes I scare myself!
I’ll give you Part 2 next week. Anybody else have any great clues? If not, let me know how smart you think I am!!