Creating a Clean Manuscript

Keep it cleanQuestion: What’s the difference between a badly formatted manuscript and a clean manuscript?

Answer: The price you’ll pay to have it edited or formatted.

It’s difficult to edit a horribly formatted manuscript, so the editor might clean it up a bit to make it more manageable. Anything that cost an editor time will cost you money.

If a horribly formatted manuscript is sent to someone to format into an eBook or paperback, it’s going to cost extra because it will take extra time to create a workable copy.

The writer can save her hired hands time and at the same time save money by learning the basics of how to create a clean manuscript.

It all starts here…with this weird little symbol that probably has a name but I don’t know it. I’ve called it ‘the one who reveals all’…all the wrong formatting techniques. Here’s its mugshot:

Cleaning up a manuscript example Image 2

Here it is with a few close neighbours.

Cleaning up a manuscript example Image 3

If you click on ‘the one who reveals all’ strange creatures and mystic beings appear instantly on your manuscript and dance between your words and sentences. Little dots, circles, arrows and other mysterious beings get you looking into places you’ve never thought to look before. They’ve always been there, but in the other realm, behind the cloak of invisibility, until you clicked the magic button.

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My Editing Process

EditingIf you missed my post yesterday about editing, you can read it here: The Importance of Good Editing.

First the meaning of First Draft: The version that has never been edited, just written without thought of little else but getting the words down on paper. Mind you, after all these years of writing, I try to write correctly the first time. In other words, I properly edit and spell on the fly as much as I can. Don’t confuse this with rereading passages to edit before proceeding to the next scene. I’ve met writers in the past who don’t perform basic editing while writing, simply write incomplete sentences with very little punctuation. This makes editing the manuscript that much more labour intense. If you know quotation marks go there, put them in as your write.

As promised in yesterday’s post here are the steps I take to edit my manuscript after I’ve completed the first draft.

1. Read the manuscript for consistency, to see how it feels as a whole story. I ask myself the following questions:

  • Does it make sense to me and will it make sense to readers?
  • Does the time frame work? In other words, is a character five years old in one paragraph and eight in another even though only a few weeks passed? Or is it snowing in one chapter and summer in the next with only a few hours passing?
  • Is every character necessary, are they consistent and are their names correct? I don’t want the side-kick to be called Freda in chapter one and Betty in chapter six unless there is a darn good reason for it.
  • Is there enough action/plot/character development for it to be a complete, interesting story?
  • Do the chapter divisions make sense?

If I find issues with any of these items, I fix them before moving on to Step 2.

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Shadows in the Stone Update

The Shadows in the Stone manuscript has now been purged of passive words (Part I) and edited by me (Part II). It took a little over a month to complete the 42 chapters in Part II. The word count currently hovers around 127,000, about 3,000 less than I anticipated.

While completing this edit, I learnt I have 65 named characters and 38 place names. There are still two fellows I need to find last names for, but I’ll do that this week.

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Editing a Manuscript

I used to offer a course called How to Get Published. One of the topics I discussed was editing a manuscript before submitting it to an editor. Her are the basic points I’d go over.

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My Indie Publishing Experience: The Road Already Taken

Over the past year, I’ve been asked by many people, both writers and non-writers, why I chose to self-publish my book Mystery Light in Cranberry Cove. My answers depended on which stage of publishing I had been in at the time. With the project completed and only marketing left, I can provide better, more thorough answers.

As promised in a post a short time ago, here is the first in a series of posts about my self-publishing journey.

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