Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The End of the Edits

I told you I was going to blog about some of the final passes of The F-It List, where the book is basically finished and there are just small changes to make. Sorry it's been a while. Not for any reason except that I have kids, and they don't like when I'm on the computer. The only reason I may be able to write this post is that my daughter slept at her Grandma's last night, and the baby is on a mat on the floor next to me. We'll see how long that lasts. Or how much drool collects.

This is what a manuscript looks like when I get it back from the copy editor.

This is usually the second-to-last time I can make any changes to the book. Those Post-It flags are mine. I go through heaps of them during the final two revisions. I put one on every page that needs attention. It could be that I don't like what the copy editor has suggested, I don't understand what the copy editor means (I should really make more of an effort to learn about all of those marks), or if I need to change something altogether. Much of the time, I wonder how stupid the copy editor thinks I am. When I finish going through the changes, I spend hours on the phone with my trusty editorial assistant, Anna Roberto. Our conversations are usually hilarious and nitpicky, and I love them. Here is a list of some of the things I flagged in The F-It List's copy-edited manuscript:
  • On the very first page is the note, "Compositor: please do a global change from 2 spaces after period to 1 space." This is something I try to do nowadays (remember back in the day when two was the norm?), but I guess I still stutter out two spaces sometimes.
  • There was a war of the hyphens in F-It (even the title technically has a hyphen!), and I started to get very perturbed by the number of suggested hyphens throughout the manuscript. Words were being strung together by hyphens far too often for my liking. Things like, I'm-going-to-die list and you're-got-to-be-kidding look. I felt like hyphens weren't always needed, or sometimes the same effect could be made with italics. But it was getting personal. When cheese-and-peanut-butter crackers had hyphens inserted, I wrote a note in the margin: "Why hyphens?" Later in the book, my comments veered toward the dramatic: "Really? Hyphens?"
  • One of the funniest (to me) things was that somehow my word "asseyed" was changed to "assayed." This carried over into the ARC, I think. Page 86. Maybe that one needed a hyphen?
  • I never know what to do with class names. Do I capitalize them? And I always screw up blond/blonde. I also compound the hell out of words that shouldn't be compound words.
  • I changed Big Time Rush to Zac Effron somewhere in the book.
  • Funny note from the copy editor: "DES: set upside=down crosses." Find that one in the final book.
  • Words the copy editor underlined for capitalization: butt and mullets anonymous.
  • T-shirt should always be t-shirt, in my opinion.
When the pages come back to me again, they are formatted to look like the actual book pages.

But I still have one chance to make changes. This time around, I made a lot of them. Some books, I only make a few. These are less grammatical and more fine tuning. I spent another hour or two on the phone with Anna debating the minutia, such as:
  • Changing "message" to "smoke signal" 
  • Taking out "video store" [yes, I'm old]
  •  Still battling the hyphens
  • Wondering why we capitalize Mohawk when referencing a hair style
  • Changing Ryan Gosling to Channing Tatum [any day, people]
  • Switching a dog reference to a cat reference (in the book, the line is something about "even dogs were going through cancer." At the time of my final revision, my cat, Tobin, was dying of cancer. He is also mentioned in the dedication.)
  • Double-checking that the List references corresponded to the correct phrasing and numbers as the actual List.
  • Making sure that the characters had the correct names (like who worked at the sub shop with Alex).
  • "Urinal cake with a candle sticking out of it" became "stack of frosted urinal cakes with a candle on top."
  • Certain words look bad when hyphenated onto the next line, such as "cof-fin" or "douche-cake."
  • "Some perfume to spray on it?" changed to "A spritz of Kardashian's butt spray." [It makes more sense in context.]
The final phone call is often pretty funny, with Anna and I debating the finer points of "asshole" vs. "dickwad." It's great to hear an actual person laugh at my work instead of me wondering if only I thought it was funny. Writing funny books is like doing standup comedy to an empty room most of the time. Anna is my audience of one!

I could write more, but Dean is now sitting on my lap and staring at the computer screen. That is probably not so good for his baby brain. Plus, he keeps pressing keys. Let me know if there's more you'd like to know.

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