Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Revision update

You wouldn’t think it was possible to end a sentence without a period. Just a blank space Followed by a new sentence. But this is surprisingly easy to do. Not like you see it ever page, but more than once per manuscript is not unusual.

Hey, did you notice the typo in that sentence? It’s amazingly easy to type “ever” when you mean “every,” and even easier to make the reverse mistake. Those terminal letters that OUGHT to be there just flow out of your fingers. Generally you catch this, but not always.

If you rewrited a sentence, it’s possible to wind up with an abomination where the verb is in the wrong tense. Just every now and then it will slip by despite re-reading. This is especially possible if you are happy with the scene and don’t re-read it carefully.

My laptop keyboard is getting pickier about how hard you hit the keys, and frequently the “s” doesn’t appear at the end of a plural word because I haven’t hit the key hard enough. I have to hit the “t” a bit harder than other letters, and so I’m constantly typing I instead of it. (Autocorrect capitalizes the I when the t doesn’t appear.) Also, I randomly hit the “k” when reaching for other keys. If I’m tired, I can easliy reverse letters or type “pebble” when I meant “people.” Generally I backspace and fix this kind of thing right away — sometimes I seem to spend as much time backspacing as moving forward — but every now and then a typo will slip through.

Still, I’m pretty happy with how this revision is going.

There were no copy-edit types of corrections for the first 83 pages, and no substantive suggestions until p. 121. That’s pretty good! The number of “Great!” and “Hah!” notations outnumbers the typos by a good margin, so that’s satisfying.

I’ve done a full sweep through the manuscript to address big points, and some of those big points will get revisited again before I declare myself to be finished because when you get suggestions like “Can you increase tension between these two characters toward the beginning?” and “Can you keep Keri more vulnerable and flawed through the middle?”, it’s hard to know when you’ve done enough.

Clarity issues — “Wait, how does this make sense?” — are usually easier to address. Sometimes I must make up something brand new to explain why something makes sense because in fact it didn’t but I don’t want to change that plot point. Sometimes I just need to add a sentence to clarify something I already understood myself. Both kinds of clarity adjustments are simple because one or two sentences in the text will do it. You see how different that is from “Make this character more vulnerable through the middle,” which makes you reread and tweak a huge swath of the verbiage. I’m never sure I’ve done that well enough until my editor gives the revised manuscript a thumb’s-up.

But for now I’m still making fast progress just going through the printed manuscript and tweaking in response to my editor’s many hand-penciled comments. It’s satisfying because it is going fast and so far every tweak has been easy. Plus I find I like the story myself, always very reassuring at this stage. I could probably finish this revision by Monday, but I think I will finish it, then go to the World Fantasy Convention, then come back and read through it one more time with an eye to fiddling with those more nebulous big-scale tweaks. Then I can send it around the middle of November, comfortably ahead of my editor’s request for getting it back to her by the middle of December. THEN I can go on with other projects.

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