The Final Proof: General Advice for Writers

The last thing writers do before their work is released into the world is reviewing the proof copy for the publisher, making sure all the little details are right. Going over it with a fine-toothed comb. Comparing it with the list of items that needed to be fixed in the PDF. (I suspect proofing was easier in the time before e-copies, before transferring files from program to program caused glitches and don’t size changes and all those little annoyances.)

Proofreading: it’s both necessary, and it can be pretty tiring. I find it helps to read/review the book both as the author, knowing what to look for, and as a first-time reader. Yup — I pretend I haven’t read it before, as best I can, to approach the proof with fresh eyes. Helps if there aren’t any distractions around, too.

Plus — I am usually also fueled by nervous energy and excitement by this stage, so I have to exercise patience in the extreme.

Pardon me while I get it out . . .

SQUEEE! My book is here! The trilogy is complete! I’ve got the set! Yay!

(Ahem) Resuming dignity in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .

As I was saying, patience. It’s no good rushing out and shouting to the world that the book is ready if there are errors hiding sneakily in plain sight — I know, because I was overly enthused and didn’t look carefully enough for them in books one and two, and unfortunately, reviewers were the ones who caught them for me.

So, fellow writers (aspiring or repeat offenders), remember when you are proofing to do the following things:

  1. Take your time.
  2. Use the form and structure required by your publisher to communicate any blips that need correcting. It’s more efficient.
  3. Don’t rush.
  4. Keep all your notes on previous proof reviewing sad reference.
  5. Read your book as though it’s for the first time.
  6. Remember why you wrote it in the first place!
  7. Smile. You made a thing and it’s beautiful. Proofing ensures that it is as perfect as humanly possible.

And thank you to my editor and publisher at Melange Books for her unerring patience with me throughout this whole process. You are amazing, Nancy!

Proofreading Slang: Writing Conundrum No. 64

Here’s a writing style conundrum for you all to mull over: When you’re writing in multiple perspectives throughout a story, changing points of view from chapter to chapter (and sometimes within a chapter), how much should that affect your style / adherence to the conventions of language?

My main issue right now (making progress in proofreading Crystal and Wand) is that among the slang terms and swear words that my characters use is “God / god”, and the capitalization changes according to the perspective of the narrative. At least, that’s what I think I did. I’m going to have to check back through ALL of the dialogue and inner thought pieces to see if I’m right or if I just wasn’t paying attention at the time of the writing. But I know that some characters are more likely to use the proper name construction, and others are prone to the regular noun.

Next time, I’ll make note of the use of language with each character in the prep sheets. Take more time to consider the idiosyncrasies of each character’s speech and world view. For now, it’s just one more thing I have to take a few hours to comb through, just to make sure everything is consistent.