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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Publishing 3: A Sample Edit

Thanks Jessica for a great suggestion! OK everyone, I looked for my old files of Lever. I switched computers 15 months ago and suspect the very oldest complete draft of this book may have been lost, but I'll keep searching.

In the meantime, I found a file that had gone through only my first edit, after I transferred the critiques from my hired editor and Jane but had done nothing else. This older sample has 130 words; the final version has 122 words, but what a difference! This is the entire chapter 21, found on page 73 of the book. Warning: it contains a spoiler for the plot, so if you haven't yet read Lever, well, you've been warned.

Ready now?

OK, for everyone still here, here are the two versions:

***

Old Version (130 words)

Benjamin threw off the seat restraints and knelt beside Sara, pulled her from the chair and laid her flat on the narrow floor, supine, cradling her in his arms.

She sank boneless against him, and he held her tighter.

Sara.

She seemed barely conscious, so still, and he reached down and took her hand. His Sara.

No, she would be all right. She had to be.

Her lips were moving, and he could barely hear her as she whispered a name.

He leaned further over her, his ear to her lips. The name, she said it again. He drew back in horror.

She had called to Yeshua Ha’Maschiach.

No. It couldn’t be.

Again.

He hadn’t misheard her. His thoughts were paralyzed.

A spy, a believer, Sara, had infiltrated the mission.

***

Final Version (122 words)

BENJAMIN THREW off the seat restraints and knelt beside Sara. She was unconscious, and he pulled her from the chair and laid her flat on the narrow floor.

She sank boneless against him. He held her tighter.

Sara.

She seemed barely conscious, so still. He reached down and took her hand. His Sara.

Her lips were moving, and he could barely hear her as she whispered a name. He leaned further over her, his ear to her lips. The name, she said it again.

And then he drew back in horror.

She had called to Yeshua Ha’Maschiach. No. It couldn’t be.

But he hadn’t misheard her. His thoughts were paralyzed.

A spy, a follower of the Way, Sara, had infiltrated the mission.

***

Subtle changes but a big difference, don't you think?

BTW I just spotted two things in this section that I'd change if I could. Did you catch these?

First is a repetition of an *ly* word, *barely*. Once is OK, but...

The second is an error: in the first paragraph Sara is UNconscious, and in the 4th paragraph she's BARELY conscious.

This, despite multiple read-throughs on my part (and believe me, I'm picky), and a go-around with an excellent copyeditor. It just goes to show that your book is never going to be perfect.

6 comments:

Billy Coffey said...

I love that you've done this and allowed us to crawl inside your editing mind. You're right. Those changes were subtle, but they made a world of difference.

Jessica Thomas said...

Wow, I like them both! Thanks for sharing. I have been wanting to take a little "peek" into your book and now I have it. It intrigues me and makes me want to keep reading.

Stylistically they are a bit different. The first one seems a more feminine and "flowy". The second one, a bit more gender neutral. But, both actually work for me.

Isn't it interesting how we can create certain effects with words?

In the speculative genre, from a marketing standpoint, I do see the value of writing in a more clear cut gender neutral style because men are a big part of the audience. When writing, I am conscious that I'm speaking to both men and woman. If I wanted to speak just to woman, my novel would read differently.

As far as the things you would change, yeah, if I would have noticed prior to publication, I would have ditched the second barely. Reading it the first time through, neither of those things stood out to me. Perhaps the lesson here is, there is no such thing as "perfect" writing. It is subjective.

I read an article in which the author quoted a passage from 1984, and noted something Orwell probably would change if he had a second chance. Still, that book is a classic!

Jessica Thomas said...

I had another thought (imagine that). I think what made the first draft seem more "feminine" was the use of commas in the beginning rather than "and", and the use of the word supine. It seems a rather sensual word...

That got me thinking of my own revision process. As I was going through The Exception, I switched instances of "began" to "started" in order to make the prose sound more masculine. "She began" has a softer presence than "She started". It's the b/g/n consonant combination verses the t's and the d.

Can you tell I'm a geek!!??

Rita Gerlach said...

Your post will benefit so many writers that are considering, or have already considered, self-publishing. It is no easy task to edit a novel, and a self-published author is faced with a daunting task. You've pretty much given people a heads-up on the process.

I've been blogging since September about the publishing process of a novel going through a traditional publisher. So far, Surrender the Wind has gone through 3 rounds of edits, a macro, substantive, and a copy edit. Now it is going into a flow copy. The galley will be proofed, and another thorough proofread will take place before the book goes to print. That's five editing phases!

Even with traditional publishing, an author is a part of the editorial team. I went pod before, and I can say the experience between the two is day and night.

I really admire what you have done, Amy, to put your novel out there. I've been reading it. You are one intelligent woman. I wish you all the best with sales! You are a very talented author.

Andra M. said...

Must be I'm a geek, too, because I thought the same as Jessica.

Ditto to Rita as well.

And Billy.

Hmm. Looks like I don't have an original thought today.

Brandie said...

I didn't catch either of the two things you would have changed, at least not the first time I read it. Okay, I admit--not until you pointed it out. I may have caught it on a book reread, or something, but not the first time!

Thanks for sharing this--the changes are subtle, yes, but do make a lot of difference to the end product. It is nice to see such a clear example, rather than writing which has been purposely made bad, to show ways to fix it.