The copy edited manuscript (cem) for The Black Ship arrived the other day. I thought I'd tell you a bit about what it is and what I'm supposed to do with it.
This manuscript is the final revised version that I sent to my editor. She went through and made a few line edits and marked a few places where she has questions. She writes in regular pencil. Then it went to the copy editor. She goes through and corrects grammar, typos, puts in marks for appropriate house style (for instance, names ending in 's' like Bess are pluralized as Bess's--that's a house style thing). She checks consistency and this is a bit difficult because she also checks consistency with earlier books. For instance, I could have sworn that Koreion was both singular and plural. But in The Cipher, I put an -s- on the end for plural. She caught that and fixed it in The Black Ship. She corrects clunky things she sees, echoes (when I repeat words in close proximity) and so forth. She uses a red pencil. That way I know whose marks belong to whom.
Then it comes back to me. It's a 440 page stack of paper. Now I go through and check to see if I agree, if I see anything that needs to be changed, if there's been any mistakes, and I answer all questions posed by CE and E. I write in an entirely different color--green this time. So they know what are my corrections.
I have the power of STET in this. (No idea what that actually is means or comes from). If I don't like a change and want it put back the way I had it, I write Stet in the margin and I usually circle the specific thing to be stetted if there's more than one thing in the line. I don't do this hugely often because I think the edits I've had on all my books have been really well done. There was one problem in PoF where the CE didn't realize that "stooped" was a falconry term and so she changed it to "swooped." I stetted all those.
So far I've gone through a single chapter of the book this a.m and I have to say that so far, I've had an excellent copy edit again and excellent editing. It's always unnerving to go through this process because while you know that grammatically things are correct, sometimes they don't sound right to your ear anyhow and so you stet them to make it so readers don't stumble. Or maybe you were going for a clunky sound--sometimes that means capturing the ambience of the moment through a speech pattern. But then you know you're changing something from right to wrong and you really have to think about how important it is to you. Or there are changes in sentences that I don't know that I like, but I have to decide if it's better for the reader. The thing to remember is that not every word or sentence is golden and that I'm trying to entertain and tell a good story and keep the reader from getting jolted out of the novel by annoyances and difficulties in language and so on.
Any questions about this process?
And oh, it was like 10 degrees this morning when I got up. Just saying.
ETA: From the most excellent arielstarshadow: STET = Latin word meaning "let it stand" - basically, you have the Presidential veto. ;)
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