<---This is me when I realize it is time to break out the editing software. I have a love / hate relationship with my editing software. I go through and do all of my edits, do a read through, and when I think things are in good shape, I bring out the evil editing software. I call it evil S. Here's why it's evil. It takes my beautiful, almost shiny manuscript, and breaks it down sentence by sentence. Then it runs it through six different checks and assigns the line number to the error message. I've added a few tweaks of my own, and export the results into a spreadsheet so I can sort and filter to make it easier (what a hope) to get through. And what I love about it? It breaks down my manuscript sentence by sentence and points out potential errors or things to improve upon so I can make the book even better. And my special tweak of the results in a spreadsheet is wonderful... so wonderful, I hate it.
The reason I dislike it so much and call it evil all the time, is that it is tedious to go through. When you take a completed draft and run it through and find that you have written ~8,500 sentences (No Boundaries, Misfit McCabe series, book 3), the first thought is, “Wow! I’ve really accomplished something!” And you KNOW you’ve polished every single sentence, so the software won’t find much to correct, right? Oh, poor delusional author… when the results come back and you see that you have approximately 5,800 potential problems out of your 8,500 sentences (or ~68%), lightheadedness ensues. It’s like you’ve acquired a critique partner on steroids, and this one does not overlook ANYTHING!! So evil – evil – evil!
But after I’ve been revived and put ice on the lump on my head (from where it hit the counter when I passed out), I realize two things:
- Fiction writing is supposed to have contractions, so I can whack those results from the start.
- It forces me to look at my manuscript from another perspective. An almost true line by line read through, and I always see amazing things when I do that.
Now I don’t act on every suggestion from the software, that would be ludicrous and make for some boring reading. But the value is that it makes me relook at the specific sentence, out of context, and once you take sentences out of context, things tend to jump out that you weren’t able to see before. This aspect alone makes this process a valuable one because after so many times through the manuscript your brain starts playing tricks on you and it buries awkward phrasing and outright mistakes through familiarity. It also allows you to see where you may have used a particular device or way of phrasing things too many times, because if you have to see each and every time you used it in the entire novel, you do remember and know to go back and overhaul those points. For example, in No Boundaries I found I used the words while and since more times than I am comfortable with. I did change some of the instances, but need to go back and look for the high concentration areas so I can make some changes.
Every time I reach the phase of the process where it is time to embark in battle with evil S, I think about skipping the step. Then I rationalize and tell myself that if I don’t find too many items that I would make changes to in the first chapter, then I can release myself from the remainder because I have done a good job. THAT day has not come. Because every time I use the software, I remember why I got it in the first place – it helps me to be a better writer, and that is the goal.