RuleOfThumbMost good authors find they have to rewrite many times and divide the task into specific types of edits they concentrate on. Here are some of the typical tasks for the third major revision. Usually the rewrites are done in the order shown here and after those shown last two months. By this point, you should not need any major paragraph changes. This month I cover the points of focus for low level editing.
3. Line-editing (copy editing; word-by-word and line-by-line)
a) Are any words misspelled? Phonetic dialectical spelling is rarely a good idea. Better to use alternate grammar, than alternate spelling, to indicate dialect.the
b) Any typos? Check homonyms to be sure they are neither mis-typed nor misused.
c) Is all “bad grammar” intentional? Sentence fragments and run-ons (comma spliced clauses) are typical of dialog. Old Maid Thistlebottom, from high school or college English class, may object, but she won’t grade your best seller.
d) Is all your punctuation standard? If not, are the variations intentional, clear and easy to read?
e) Are any sentences too verbose? Can you tighten them?
f) Are all “facts” correct? If you say most, is it really more than 50%? If you talk about the perp driving a Pontiac Trans Am, is it appropriate for perp to have a pre-2011 car (when Pontiac ceased production) and a pre-2003 car (when the Trans Am was discontinued)? Correct facts are more important in fiction than non.
g) Did you explain why Marcia changed her name to Marsha on page 137? If not, perhaps you want to use the same name throughout.