Editing A Book Manuscript
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Editing A Book Manuscript

The first draft of the book has been finished. All that time and hard work have resulted in a completed draft manuscript. Now that the writing is finished, it is time to edit.

Editing is not an easy thing to accomplish. Often it is considered a necessary evil, since it is so time consuming and sometimes tedious to edit a book manuscript.

One way to look for the following problem areas in the manuscript is to read through the story multiple times, looking for one or two specific problems each time. This method has the advantage of narrowing the focus during each read to a specific problem area, making it more likely that those problems will be found and corrected. However, when I edit my paper and it is written and finished, it needs to be edited and proofread at least once before it is submitted to a potential publisher. Another method is to make a list of problems to look for and simply read through the manuscript with those problem areas in mind. The following are the most common problems found in manuscripts:

Spelling mistakes

Mistakes with spelling are usually fairly simple to fix. The problem is in catching them. Using the spell check in word processors can catch some errors, but not all. Catching spelling mistakes requires a close look at the text. Keep a dictionary close at hand, either online or a paper dictionary, for any questions about spelling. It is important to catch as many spelling errors and typos as possible to make the manuscript as professional as possible.

Read on

Getting Published and Your Book Edited

Editing, Copy Editing, and Proofreading

How to Create a Winning Submission

Plot Holes and Consistency

A reader will spot plot holes and any inconsistencies immediately. This is because they have the advantage of not being quite as involved in the story as the author. It is a matter of the author being too close to the story to be able to see the holes. While editing a book manuscript, pay close attention to the plot. Question what has been written. Does the plot make sense? Does something not seem to flow or follow the previous events? If there is a surprise, does it get addressed at some point in the manuscript, or is it left hanging? Is a particular scene or section necessary, or does it detract from the plot? If it is necessary, does it need to be expanded or scaled down at all? All such questions are necessary to make certain there are no holes in the plot. The blog AuthorCulture has a great post entitled “Checking for Plot Holes” dealing with this very issue and offers some great advice on how to check for it.

As for inconsistencies, go through the manuscript with a fine-toothed comb. Make a list if necessary of any dates or important details to make sure that everything stays consistent. Inconsistencies apply not only to the plot but to the characters as well. Character personalities and actions should remain consistent throughout the story unless some reason is given for the character to behave in a different way.

Layout

As a final step, check the layout of the manuscript. This is mostly cosmetic, but it is important to remain consistent in how the chapters are labeled or sections are broken. Do not switch back and forth between using chapter numbers and chapter headings. Consistency is important not only in the plot and story itself but in the cosmetic layout of the story to give it a professional look and make it easier to read.

Editing a book is as great a task as writing one, and sometimes a greater task than writing the book ever was. But it is important to make the manuscript as completed and professional as possible, and as error free as possible. This manuscript could be submitted to publishers, editors, and agents, and the fewer errors, the more likely it is that the publisher could potentially like the book.


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