Some Things Can Stink Up a Tale

Sometime back, I read an ACR copy of a friend’s novel. The story was solid, but there were tons of typos and several inconsistencies. I didn’t worry, it is normal to find errors in work while is being polished. Then my friend told me how “frustrated” she was after reading my comments; her manuscript had already gone through “two editors.”

I’m still angry on her behalf. I hope the people she hired will work harder on her next book. I say this because I wasn’t even looking for typos when I read the story. I just wanted to enjoy it, but after a while the errors became more important than the tale.

This kind of thing makes me wish that it was easier to proofread my own work. But it isn’t; at least not right after I finish writing it. Like my friend, sometimes I read my stuff, and “see what I want [the story] to say, even if it doesn’t” say it. And some things are even harder to notice than typos. Take this passage as an example:
“I’m sure,” AlmaMia said. “I’m going to put this in the bedroom.” She held up her backpack and the movement made her stomach churn. Mamabuela didn’t own a gas stove, so AlmaMia wasn’t used to the scent of propane. The rotten-egg smell was making her sick.
The first time around, I wrote “natural gas” instead of “propane” which was a huge insult to my need to make the story sound real. “AlmaMia Cienfuegos” takes place in a tiny Caribbean village, in the middle of nowhere, in the early 80s; they had NO natural gas!

I still find shaky bits when I reread AlmaMia, mostly awkward sentences. Okay, I’ve found a typo or three as well. But I have only myself to be upset with when that happens. I didn’t pay anyone to check my work. If I had, I would probably be feeling as exasperated as my friend is at the moment. Editors are expected to edit, aren’t they?

Well, I better get back to hunting for typos and other nasty bits that can stink up the tale.
 hehehehehe
yep, the sophisticated nature of my sense of humor amazes me too ;-)

18 comments:

  1. Sorry, all I thought when I read this was, *perk* MORE AlmaMia!! ;) <3 you, Mags!

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    1. As long as AlmaMia's tale gets you all interested and stuff, and you are more than good on my witchy writer's book ;-)

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  2. Back in 2000 while on vacation to Toronto, I picked up a book titled "The Gumshoe, the Witch, and the Virtual Corpse". While I found the story engaging and the characters easy to relate to, the typos were killing me. On the flight home, I saw one that was so appalling I pulled out a notepad and red pen and started the book over, making notes of page and paragraph numbers with the errors. When I got home, I typed them up and emailed them to the author, who told me that his editor introduced some of them.

    The error that triggered my red pen frenzy? "Segue-way" - the author didn't have that in the manuscript he submitted.

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    1. Alan, I had the worst of experiences with a story I submitted to a magazine. It was a long time ago (and thank goodness for pen names). I was excited that I didn't think much of the bit about the me giving them rights to make "minor edits if needed". They pretty much rewrote my story, and it sucked dish water.

      I feel so, so, so bad for that author. To see your byline under someone else's mistakes has to be a terrible thing.

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    2. I also have made notes about typos, however, I have not as yet sent them to a publisher

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    3. I do what I would like people to do for me, and send them to the authors. They are always grateful; feeling bad that the typos were there at all, but grateful I took the time. Except one who felt insulted by it. Go figure.

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  3. Another blogger I follow has written a book and she said she's re-read her book so many times (editing) that she's memorized it... She has done a lot of footwork as far as promoting it and getting it to print- it was suppose to be out in Dec. but now its March, going on April!...

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    1. If she has memorized it, she is probably not seeing the typos as they blend in and the mind skips over them without noticing...

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    2. I agree with Judy. It's very, very, very difficult to edit one's own work. I've gotten into the habit of writing my story from one point of you and then changing it to another in order to note things that don't add up. I read them, too, to cheek weird dialogue. And still, when other people read them they find mistakes.

      Getting something ready for public eyes take time... and a lot of work...

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    3. I think she was being sarcastic as well and also let down that it has n't been published when dates were given...

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    4. That truly blows ;-(

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  4. It is much easier to see the typos if you have not read it before...an editor should have caught them...I don't think many people are proofreading properly these days as there are so many errors getting published...

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    1. Indeed, I think people relay so much on spellchecker that they don't pay attention to what they write. I've been as guilty as the next writing--in one draft of AlmaMia I wrote "the raisin sun," and still today make fun of "AlmaMia's sun being dried up fruit." It's not that funny when someone (who most of the time is unkind) is the one pointing out every mistake for the world to read.

      Beta readers and friend who 'truly' pay attention to what they are reading are a real blessing...

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  5. I am sorry for your friend! I hope it all gets sorted out for her soon! Your cartoon made me laugh! LOL!

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    1. That sassy lamp made me roar, too. Poor chair, it's not her fault!

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  6. I often put a story away for a time - and then print it. For larger works I found I can also put it on my kindle and use pen and paper for notes, the paper feeling is almost the same. But I hardly ever find the mistakes on the screen.

    (Reading stuff loud also helps. And my best friend always knows what I am trying to write.)

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    1. I'm lucky enough to have an Ideal Reader, too. It makes a world of difference, and it saves me so much headache.

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  7. I know just what you mean, and I thought yes more AlmaMia! =]

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