I recently talked about the first editing pass I received on The Repossessed Ghost, and I described the changes as very light. I described it accurately! There were only two comments, and a bunch of in-line edits, which mostly had to do with capitalization and homonyms.
Today, I’m transferring those in-line edits into my Scrivener file, which is forcing me to really examine them. I’m learning that you’re not suppose to capitalize “the” nearly so much. For example, my home houses the Buhls, not “The Buhls.” And it is the Bible, not “The Bible.”
There are several capitalization rules I get wrong all the time, and I’m glad to receive this lesson. It’s one more thing I can look for when doing personal edits in the future.
In addition to those changes, which are easy for me to accept and change, there are a couple that I’ve actually had to stop and think about. For example, is it “archaeology” or “archeology?” I used the latter, but I have an in-line correction to the former. Apparently, this one is a little bit complicated! Using the “ae” is more common across the world, and US legislation and departments use the “ae.” However, in the US, leaving out the “a” is more common, ever since a change in the printing process dropped the “ae” diphthong. I didn’t know any of this when I wrote the story, but now I know.
I’ll go with the editor’s version because I don’t want to be difficult and this particular change doesn’t really alter the voice or content of the story in a significant way. It was a fun learning opportunity, though. Scrivener doesn’t recognize the spelling with the “a” but Scrivener isn’t the boss of me, either.
I have mentioned previously that I struggle with homonyms. I don’t usually have a problem with the common ones. I know my “their,” “there,” and “they’re.” I’m not sure how many people get “taught” and “taut” mixed up, but it’s a mistake I managed to commit a few times. The one that really gets my goat is “dowsing” versus “dousing.” It’s like my brain is searching for new and interesting ways to use wrong words. The nicest thing I can say about my struggle with homonyms is that, though I’m wrong, I’m consistent in my wrongness, making it relatively easy to correct.
What else can I talk about with regards to this edit? During one of the drafts, I went through the entire manuscript, looking for places where I used weak verbs. I wrote the first draft while I still leaned heavily on passive voice, so I had a lot to correct. I mostly tried to eliminate the word “was” when it didn’t make the sentence clumsy. I also tried to delete the word “had” and all of the places where I hid it in a contraction. I clearly cut too deep, as the editor slipped some of these missing contractions and “had” words back into the text.
If I didn’t make it clear before I started talking about this edit: I hold no ill will towards my editor, and in fact, I think they did a fantastic job. I’m not complaining about the changes. I’m marveling at how I got these things wrong in the first place. I love that after all this time sitting on this novel, I can still learn from it and make it better.
One of my tasks with the publisher is to submit another draft. I’m about half way there, I think, and I should be able to complete the task before the end of the weekend.
I’m enjoying this process. I like having an editor, and I love all of these opportunities to learn and get better at the craft of writing. I’ve heard other writers complain, and I know some of them have had bad experiences. I consider myself lucky. This whole experience just makes me that much more excited to work on The Repossessed Ghost and get it in front of people.