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F&SF Forum » The Process of Writing

Editing stuff

(16 posts)
  • Started 6 months ago by arowhena
  • Latest reply from arowhena

  1. arowhena
    Member

    So I’ve been gone awhile, writing mostly. Last year I finished my first novel. It came out to be around 400 pages. It took me only 4 months to write (I write almost every day). To my surprise, my edit time was 8+ months. My question is this, is this normal, or is it just me?

    Posted 6 months ago #
  2. MattHughes
    Member

    It's normal for you. Probably. You'll find out for sure when you write your next book.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  3. arowhena
    Member

    Thanks, Matt. It surprised me how much longer it took. It is not like editing a short story at all. I just finished another book (just under 30,000 words) and yes, it took about an equivalent time to edit. I guess it is just me.

    Let me ask you. I know you used to be a professional editor. When you edited someone’s work, what mistakes were most common?

    Posted 6 months ago #
  4. MattHughes
    Member

    Actually, I still edit when asked (and paid).

    I'm mostly what they call a developmental or substantive editor, which means I look at the work from a standpoint of story mechanics, character development, strengths and weaknesses in the storytelling. In that regard, the most common mistake I see is when an author fails to remember that conflict is the indispensable tool of genre fiction writing. World-building, depth of backstory, evocative prose, these are all valuable elements but the important thing is that the characters contend -- against each other, against their environment, against their inner selves. Fiction without conflict, I often say, is just travel writing.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  5. arowhena
    Member

    Sounds like Country Music :)

    Posted 6 months ago #
  6. arowhena
    Member

    How many spaces should I use after a period? Two or one?
    I find Two Spaces becomes an issue when I use dialog. Using One Space would be easier, but I’ve read that the proper number of Spaces is Two.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  7. dolphintornsea
    Member

    Two for a typewriter, one for a word processor. That's how I've always understood it.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  8. C.C. Finlay
    Charles Coleman Finlay

    arowhana, I can't answer that question for any other editor (and I know some who are adamant about it both ways, so always follow the writer guidelines), but here at F&SF I have never accepted or rejected a story based on the number of spaces after a piece of end punctuation. My personal preference is one space -- that makes less work for us to do when we get ready to typeset the story -- but using two spaces will never make or break a submission at F&SF as long as I am editor.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  9. MattHughes
    Member

    I learned to type fifty-some years ago, when it was always two spaces after a period, colon, or semicolon. I still do that on a laptop today, because the habit is ingrained. But usually, when I prepare a ms to send electronically, I use Word's search-and-replace function to remove the extra spaces. It's very easy to do.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  10. arowhena
    Member

    Okay, thanks, guys.
    Yes, I rechecked Vonda N. McIntyre’s “Manuscript Preparation” and she says “…No reasonable editor is going to reject a good story because it’s typed with two spaces after each period instead of one, or vice-versa….”
    I’ve noticed too, that when converting text into the Kindle format using the Kindlegen software, the program eliminates the double space and inserts a single space. So, one Space it is

    Posted 4 months ago #
  11. arowhena
    Member

    Here is another formatting question. Justify text. Sometimes in books, but especially in magazines, you see long spaces in the last line of the last paragraph between just a few words. Is there a way to stop this from happening, other than using left-aligned text, or right-aligned text?

    Posted 3 months ago #
  12. Greg
    Member

    I'll say something, based on my own limited experience as a one-man-band. There might be something useful.

    In Microsoft Word, I recall dealing with paragraphs that split off a single line onto a new page using the "orphans control" feature.

    My version of Word, 2010, normally left-aligns final short lines of justified paragraphs automatically, but unaccountably fails to do so here and there. The results can look really bad. Such lines I left-aligned manually.

    I sometimes reworded a sentence or two, to tidy up unsightly spacing I couldn't otherwise deal with; also, to get rid of annoying "rivers" in the printed page.

    I even fiddled with kerning some when spacing between particular letters looked weird, until I realized I was in danger of becoming obsessive/compulsive and that madness probably lay in that direction.

    This was a pain, but I'm looking forward to doing it all again at some point.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  13. C.C. Finlay
    Charles Coleman Finlay

    arowhena: when formatting stories for submission to F&SF (and I believe all the other major publications in the field), a writer should always left-align the text and never justify it. That's the job of the typesetter, or layout designer (depending on print or ebooks), and when writers try to do that they just make the work harder. Left-aligning single lines manually, as Greg suggests, creates even more work for the typesetter to undo in terms of finding and deleting unnecessary code. I also turn off widow and orphan control but that's a preference and shouldn't affect the layout when an editor buys your story and the typesetter flows it into the proper format.

    If you're asking about justifying text for self-publishing or other standards, I have no advice to offer, but I wish you the best of luck.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  14. JohnWThiel
    Member

    The only person I ever heard raising the point about spaces after commas and periods was a printer, who was discussing it as he went over the matter of justifying margins. He said standardly use one space after a comma and two spaces after a period. These were not necessary and could be used to help justify margins, along with other things. The space after the comma could be upped by one, the space after the period lowered by one. There were other tricks to it, and the rest was handled by m-quads, n-quads, and a few smaller spacers.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  15. Greg
    Member

    Yeah, I assumed the question was about creating a fully formatted, "camera ready" pdf for book publication. If you're preparing a manuscript for submission to any traditional publisher, disregard everything I said.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  16. arowhena
    Member

    I figured it out. The word processor is MS Word. I was using a Paperback Template for upload to Amazon. I downloaded it for experiment only. Amazon offers a free ISBN, but the deal has issues, I think. I don’t think I will go through with it. I think I need an agent. Any ideas?

    Anyway, by searching the internet, I discovered these “white spaces” are called “rivers.” Greg said as much. However, I could not find a workaround. I tried altering the last line of the last paragraph in each chapter to Left Align, but all that did was change the last paragraph to Left Align. Next, I tried adding spaces to the end of each paragraph, but all that did was squeeze the text. Finally, I simply put the cursor at the end of the last sentence in the chapter and hit Enter (Carriage Return Line Feed). It worked! Inserting an empty line at the end of each chapter cleans up these “rivers.”

    Posted 3 months ago #

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