The Chicks are so happy to welcome back Liz Milliron, author of the Laurel Highlands Mysteries and the Home Front Mysteries!
Editing – It Makes a Difference
Thank you Chicks for having me as a guest. It’s great to be back.
Harm Not the Earth is the fourth in The Laurel Highlands Mysteries series and it’s been the most…interesting to edit. I am anal about determined to send the cleanest manuscript I can to my editor. It goes through quite a bit before that first deadline, so usually I am successful.
This time was a bit different.
The first inconsistency wasn’t terrible. “On page XXX the character is working days, but later it’s nights, then he goes back to days – which is it?”
I addressed that issue (it’s days, if you’re wondering – not a big plot issue, I’d tried to make him work nights but it didn’t fit with the story; obviously I didn’t get all the places cleaned up).
I thought that was it. My line editor sent back her comments. I did my usual computerized read-through before sending it back for the final time.
Now this is important to understand: At this point, the manuscript has been read by:
- my critique group
- my developmental editor
- my line editor
- my computer’s text-to-speech program
That’s a lot of reading. Imagine my surprise when my proofreader of all people emailed me saying, “I hate to tell you this, but you’ve got a big problem.”
First, someone’s truck switched colors mid-story. Not huge. I’d changed a character’s name and missed a couple of instances (Also not a biggie, but note to self: if you’ve written a note that says, “Change the name” just do it. Don’t tell yourself, “I can’t remember why I said that, it must be okay to ignore that note.”). Then she dropped the bomb.
I bribed a character who was dead.
See the above list? No one caught this. If you’re unfamiliar with the proofreader’s job, finding issues like this is not it. Fortunately, my proofreader is also an old college friend of mine who now works as a professional and she felt honor-bound to inform me of the mistake.
She thought this would require major rewrites. It didn’t. I can’t tell you exactly how I fixed it because, spoilers, but it only required a small adjustment. All issues resolved.
Or so I thought.
Literally hours after I sent the manuscript back, I realized I’d used the wrong name for a character (he’s in Broken Trust, not this book, but I do mention him). I emailed my editor. “Hey, use this PDF, sorry.”
Now things were good, right? Um…
The typesetter came back with a list of questions. Was this right or that? Just what is this character’s name?
It took at least two, and perhaps three, back and forth conversations with the typesetter – and comparing the latest PDF to the original – to address all the mistakes. By this point, I was word-blind, but determined to get…it…right.
The book is done and out in the wild now. I hope with all my heart I fixed all the errors and inconsistencies.
Any that remain? Personally, I think they deserve a medal for persistence and dedication.
Readers, is there something you’ve worked on that you poured heart and soul into…but it didn’t come out just right?
Liz Milliron is the author of The Laurel Highlands Mysteries series, set in the scenic Laurel Highlands of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and The Home Front Mysteries, set in Buffalo, NY during the early years of World War II.
She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Pennwriters, and International Thriller Writers. Now an empty-nester, Liz lives outside Pittsburgh with her husband and a retired-racer greyhound.
For more information, please visit http://lizmilliron.com.
When Southwest Pennsylvania’s summer rains flood the Casselman River, State Police Trooper Jim Duncan finds a John Doe body in what is initially believed to be a tragic accident. But when a second victim, John Doe’s partner in an environmental group at odds with a nearby quarry operation, is rescued, all thoughts of accidental drowning are abandoned. After Jim is invited to join the official investigation, he begins to think a career shift might be in his future.
Meanwhile, Assistant Public Defender Sally Castle is approached by an abused woman who is accused of murdering her abuser. Although the rules prevent Sally from taking the case, she steps outside her office to help the woman and discover the truth.
As their separate cases become intertwined, Jim and Sally struggle to determine if their new paths can be traveled together or if they will divide their newly repaired relationship. And equally important, will they be able to bring a killer to justice before another innocent life is lost?