Re-reading one of my own books.

I hate doing that.

Once the final proofs are done, I usually turn away from that book and focus on the next. And I hate revisiting something that has been an intense part of my life for a year or so and finding out that it is not perfect….! And of course, it is not, never can be.

Song of the Shiver Barrens was a bit rushed towards the end, so I am re-reading, hoping to spot the typos or rough passages that escaped the numerous eagle eyes of author and editor and copy editor and type-setter and proof editor. Why? So that I can fix them before I send off the MS to the UK publisher, Orbit.

I have been reasonably happy with my other books in this respect, but not this one. There are errors – all small, but which grate on my perfectionist eye now that they are there staring up at me from the printed page, yelling, “Look at me! Look at me!”

Can anyone tell me how it is that I came to write the following: He handed her her cloak without throwing up? I suspect that in the original typescript, the first “her” was at the end of a line and the second at the beginning of the next line. It’s the only excuse I can make (ignoring the fact that I did also read the proofs…). And I have no idea how everyone else didn’t wince when they read it. Aargh.

[A mild digression here – most mainstream “literary” novelists spend several years – or more – on a book, polishing and perfecting. Fantasy writers usually don’t have that luxury – our books can be two to three times the length of a literary novel, and in order to keep our audience happy, plus earn enough to keep ourselves happy, we have to be much more productive. I have had seven books published in the past nine years, varying in length from 126,000 words to 165,000 words. And for about 9 months of every year, I have a full-time job as well.

So you are more inclined to find typos and such in a BFF (big fat fantasy) than in a slim “literary” novel. If you do find typos, you can always tell the author about them. They can then make sure they are corrected in the second edition.

Not much point, however, in telling the writer that there is a plot hole the size of the Mariana Trench in Chapter Twenty. Quite frankly, we don’t want to know – because it’s far too late to do anything about it. And no, I haven’t found a plot hole in Song of the Shiver Barrens….yet.]


Re-reading one of my own books. — 5 Comments

  1. Possum, I feel your pain. Truly. Same thing happens to me every time. The only consolation I can come up with is that, almost always, it looks worse to us than it does to readers. We get so close to the words they become distorted. We can never read them cleanly again. The same thing happens for film directors — by the time the film’s edited and finished they can’t see it clearly and are often surprised by audience reactions. By the end of the process all we can see are the flaws. It’s not an accurate reading of the project, for us, by then.

  2. Gee, Glenda, if two hers in a row is all you can find to criticise you’re doing fine:-) It horrifies me when I read published works that have somehow passed under all those eagle eyes with typos and downright errors uncorrected. It makes me think that some of the eyes are not so eagley after all.

    So let’s discount any E’ & O’s, ‘cos your writing is superb. So is Karen’s. Just ask us, your readers – we’ll tell you anytime:-)And we’re the ones who hang out on your blogs, panting, for word of the next magical journey.

  3. Yes, there is always the wince factor. 😮

    Finding typos is irritating (especially my first published book, which has loads of typos that I did correct on the proofs but somehow did’t get fixed …).

    Finding ugly phrasing (or just downright poor syntax) or dodgy plot-holes is embarrassing … but I comfort myself that if I can spot them now, then I must be getting better at writing, heh.

    Then again, looking back at one of my old books and finding that parts of it actually do read quite well can also be encouraging … like, maybe I can do this after all. LOL.

    BFF. Hee. Love it. :oD

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