Monday, September 10, 2018

Teflon Eyes

I just finished correcting the galleys of my latest novel after compiling a seven page list of mistakes that had somehow evaded the eagle eyes of beta readers, copyeditors, editors and, regrettably, my own pair.  People who write novels, someone recently observed, should be forced to re-read them dozens of times*.

First, there's multiple drafts which you write, then rewrite, and too often delete passages until you have a semblance of a scene, which you then must stitch to other scenes to form a plot, all the while creating characters, backgrounds, activities, and any other idea that occurs whether or not they make sense.  When this is done you finally have an incomplete mess of ideas which you then edit/redraft/arrange into a "first" draft and send to your beta readers.

Beta readers who are too often horrid persons who niggle over every detail you've omitted, gotten wrong, or which doesn't, in their mind, fit. They take delight in gently suggesting changes to "clarify a few things," "improve the flow," or "heighten the drama" which means that you not only have to read the damn thing again, but rewrite/correct huge portions and everything you suddenly notice to have evaded your careful review.  "Why," you scream in the darkness of your writing lair, "Why can't they just admire the genius of the story and praise my work?

Nevertheless, your tired eyes once more read through your much abused draft to correct all the things the beta readers have noted.  By this time your eyeballs are coated with teflon and slide over the most obvious of mistakes.  But you soldier on rereading the piece, patching mistakes, rewriting entire sections, and hopefully correcting everything identified as well as a few things that you thankfully caught on the umpty-ninth read through.

* As if that wasn't already the case