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?
yep, the sophisticated nature of my sense of humor amazes me too ;-)