Editing Conundrums


March 30, 2019

Editing your novel always brings surprises. Here’s the latest one that I found upon doing a final read-through for Perish by Pedicure, one of my backlist titles that I’ve revised for an updated Author’s Edition.

editing your story

HANGAR OR HANGER? This one tripped me up, so I looked for a definition. Guess what? My word choice was wrong. A hangar is a shed or shelter especially for housing aircraft. A hanger is a shoulder-shaped frame with a hook at the top for hanging a garment when not in use.

Here’s the original excerpt from Perish by Pedicure (previously edited by Kensington). Oops, I’ve also started three sentences in this paragraph with “ing” phrases. I’ll change the second one for better grammar.

Old Version:
Imagining how she’d exact restitution, Marla showered, blew out her hair, did her makeup, then pulled on a pair of black slacks and a ruby knit top. Not knowing what to expect at the convention center, she snatched a black Ann Taylor jacket from its hangar in case she would need it later. One more thing. Picking up the telephone receiver, she dialed her salon and left a message that she’d be there that afternoon with the Luxor crew. Thank goodness Georgia had stayed overnight at the hotel, she thought, finishing with a spritz of perfume. Dealing with two houseguests already had her frazzled.

New Version:
Imagining how she’d exact restitution, Marla showered, blew out her hair, did her makeup, then pulled on a pair of black slacks and a ruby knit top. Not knowing what to expect at the convention center, she snatched a black Ann Taylor jacket from its hanger in case she would need it later. One more thing. She picked up the phone receiver, dialed her salon, and left a message that she’d be there that afternoon with the Luxor crew. Thank goodness Georgia had stayed overnight at the hotel, she thought, finishing with a spritz of perfume. Dealing with two houseguests already had her frazzled.

Watch for over usage of the word, “Just” like in this passage where I use it three times.

“And why was that?” Marla asked, noting Ron rushing around the corner. Spotting her, the master stylist halted, looking shocked, but then he just as quickly recovered himself. He must have gotten a look at Sampson’s disheveled appearance. Marla missed Miguel’s response, because just then the hostess called their group. “Wait, Georgia isn’t here yet.”

“She’ll find us inside,” Liesl said, looking very hip in an off-the-shoulder ribbed lavender top. “Let’s go, luv.”

Twenty minutes later, Marla got worried when Georgia hadn’t shown up. Her friend knew they were meeting everyone at eight o’clock. Had she gone to their room to change? Taking her cell phone from her purse, she punched in Georgia’s personal number. No answer.

After excusing herself, she found a hotel phone and dialed their room. The ringing tone persisted until Marla gave up. Now what? Could Georgia have met some guy at the marina and decided to chuck her plans? Possibly, but she would’ve told me, knowing that I’d worry. She’d wait a while longer just in case her fears were groundless.

Replacements:
Marla missed Miguel’s response, because the hostess chose that moment to call their group.

She’d wait a while longer in case her fears were groundless.

These are the latest! Something always pops up when you are editing your work. But it’s important to catch these problems to make your work as polished as possible. Don’t stint on proofreading for one final time. Chances are you’ll always catch something. Happy Writing!

What are mistakes writers make that bother you the most?

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• Posted in Blog • Tags: , , , , |  8 Comments

8 thoughts on “Editing Conundrums

  1. In the last few years I have learned the value of reading my manuscript aloud. It’s much easier to “hear” word repetitions that the eye glosses over.

  2. A crit partner alerted me to the hanger/hangar thing years ago, so I’ve got that one covered. One of my pet peeves is seeing authors misusing peek/peak/pique. Recently, a best-selling author used ordinance instead of ordnance. Editors should catch these things, but these days, so much more of that responsibility falls on the author.
    I have started using Word’s read aloud feature as a final pass through the manuscript. I find if I try to read it aloud, I still “see” what’s expected, not what’s actually on the page, but the computer doesn’t make those errors. If you wrote it, it reads it.

    • I still get confused over peak/pique. That’s when it is handy to have an online dictionary. The read-aloud feature won’t help with words that sound alike but are spelled differently.

  3. Great timing with this post, Nancy! I just (ahem) began pass #3 on my draft of Felon with a Firearm. Just, already, still are real issues for me–that’s how we talk, right? Thanks for the reminders!

    • It seems that no matter how many pass-throughs we do, we always find something to fix, right? Thanks for leaving a comment, Thonie!

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