On one of the forums I visit they talked about editing and people wondered if you can over-edit. I guess you can, but there comes a point when you have to say that you need to move on.
Right now I’m busy with editing my latest novel ‘A Matter of Integrity’. Since I’ll be publishing it myself I am the editor. I want to make certain all the errors have been fixed. I’ve read the story now five times. The first time I looked for inconsistencies and other errors. I fixed those. I also fixed obvious mistakes, like spelling errors and using the wrong words. The second time I looked for more mistakes. I also ran it through the Spelling and Grammar program of my Word processor. I don’t rely on that one too much, because it is itself riddled with errors. It will suggest using ‘I’ instead of ‘me’ for instance, and there are other suggestions that are simply wrong. I only use it as a tool to help me find obvious errors.
I am always amazed that I can still find blunders in my manuscript after reading it several times. The fourth time I read it, I did quite a bit of rewriting, like awkward sentences and bad dialog. I added and changed dialog. After I was nearly done with the story I changed the name of one of the characters. I used Spell check to change the name throughout the whole manuscript. Now when I read it for the fifth time, I actually found on two occasions where the original name of that character popped up. I never noticed that in the first four readings. Our minds are wonderful but also deceptive. They will automatically insert words that aren’t there, just like a computer program. However, this time I didn’t find many errors
It is important to read a manuscript without too many interruptions. The ideal way is to read it in one session without too many breaks. The only problem with that is that our minds and our eyes get tired. We will overlook even glaring errors. Another problem I found this time, I read a sentence and I think: Didn’t I use this same sentence somewhere else in the novel? So I went back and searched for it, only to discover that I remember reading this sentence from a previous reading.
It would be nice to have someone else read the manuscript, someone who may also be a writer, but not all of us have that luxury to have someone who is actually interested. Most writers are busy with their own works. They have no time to read and correct somebody else’s book. Unless they do it for a living. But I don’t want to spend the money to hire somebody like that. I guess if one uses a publisher, then that service is free, but it still doesn’t guarantee a book free of errors. Even professional editors are human and prone to overlook the same things I do. And they don’t want to rewrite another writer’s novels. I’ve been reading my older published books and I was in a way alarmed when I found so many errors. I wish I could edit all of my books and republish them, but I’m not really interested in that. I’ve spent enough time with those stories when I wrote and edited them. Now I want to write new things, experience new adventures through my characters.
So when is the editing done? That is up to the individual writer, but eventually one has to make a decision and say: “I’m done.”
I believe I’m almost done. Perhaps one more reading, but it will for sure be the last one, because on this fifth reading I found few errors, just minor stuff, and I know I’m close. Then comes the formatting, the blurbs, and the personal stuff at the end of the book. After that comes the hard job of finding an attractive and fitting cover picture.