Seanan McGuire (seanan_mcguire) wrote,
Seanan McGuire

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Meet the proofers, or, Mary vs. the comma.

When I write a book, I generally start with, well, text. After which, I poke the text with a stick until I'm sure it won't decide to eat somebody, and pass it off to my first tier of proofreaders (called, imaginatively enough, 'Tier One'). Tier One is normally five to eight people; they're selected from a small pool of prior proofers who have proven good at handling my specific first draft follies. Tier Two gets the text when it gets finished for the first time. It's about the same size as Tier One, and tends to be a little more vicious. Tier Three combines Tier One and Tier Two, along with about five new people. Yes, I have a large proofing pool. (No, I'm not looking for more -- these are people I know through a variety of channels, some of whom are in writer's groups with me, others of whom have just proven very, very good at what they do. What they do often involves grenades.)

I'm always fascinated by the way different people approach the editing process. I know authors who don't let anyone see anything until the book is finished for the first time. Authors who hit a single chapter eighty times before moving on to the next one -- they may be slow, but dude, when they finish a book, it is finished. Me, I tend to run as fast as I can from one end to the other, editing and correcting as I go, and throwing chunks of text to the wolves as frequently as I can.

Right now, I'm processing edits to A Local Habitation provided by Mary, who has developed a vendetta against the British comma. Seriously, she's like some sort of twisted naturalist, stalking them through the wild paragraphs, and clubbing them to death like baby harp seals whenever they're stupid enough to come into her sight. I'm afraid she's going to start taking shots at me. She's also going to war against my tendency to insert semi-colons wherever I can swing it. This is why I love Mary so very, very dearly. Also why I will never actually let her near me with a red pen.

I have about five stacks of edits to process after this (gulp), and then it's on to the denouement, which will hopefully do me a favor and not hit me like a ton of bricks. Ah, editing. Ah, criticism. Ah, snark.

What are your feelings on editing? How much is too much -- and how mean is too mean?
Tags: current projects, editing, i love my editors, proofreading
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