S and I are coming toward the end of our latest revision of the Quartet. As she mentioned last week, we’re hoping to make sure it’s ready to send out in case someone shows interest in seeing it.
One of the things I find interesting (not to mention slightly frustrating) about revision is that no matter how many times you do it, there are still things to fix. And even when you think you’ve run out of things to fix, there are always things to tinker with.
Grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting. It’s amazing how two former English majors with advanced degrees can still make basic errors, like forgetting to put a comma in the right place or misspelling simple words. And that’s not even counting the spelling problems that arise with the words we’ve made up for our ‘verse. It’s always a little embarrassing to misspell a word, but it’s especially mortifying when you invented the word in question.
Consistency with in-verse terms. Should “foreign” words be in italics? What about when the POV character using the word is a native speaker of that “foreign language”? Should magic spells be in italics? Should all the words in a magic spell be capitalized, or just on the first word in the spell?
Continuity errors. If you have one character shut the door on his way out of the room, the next person who comes into the room will have to open the door first. If three people sit down to supper, there need to still be three people at the table at the end of the meal. If a character takes his sword off at the beginning of the scene, he has to put it back on if you want him to have it with him later. When you have to write a scene over the course of several days’ worth of lunch breaks, however, it’s easy to lose track of that sort of thing. This is yet another reason why reading the book together out loud is so important. It’s much easier to catch those sorts of mistakes when you have two people following carefully along with the text.
Character voice. Even on this latest read-through, we have run across lines that just don’t sound like a particular character. And of course the narration has to match the POV character, too. If Susan always thinks of her brother Robert as “Bobby,” then when we’re in her head, he needs to be Bobby, even if he is known as “Bob” to everyone else.
On the whole, though, I think we’re getting close to a finished, publishable story. Maybe when we’re done, we can dig out our original first draft and read through that, too, just so we can see how much progress we’ve made.