Dead West : In the Editing Trenches

Posted: March 21, 2010 in Uncategorized
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I realize that I’ve not done an update on Dead West in awhile, so it’s time to rectify that. When last we met, I posted the final TOC of who would be appearing. Since then I’ve been editing the stories, rounding up an artist (more on that later), and putting together a signature sheet.

The editing process so far, has gone as smooth as anyone could possibly hope. In fact, talking to others who have edited anthologies, it’s safe to say, I’m unusually lucky in how smooth this is going so far. I contribute this to one thing and one thing only; the quality of the writing.  Certainly no one ever writes a perfect story in one draft, but the fact is, most every story I have is pretty damn close to being publishable. In three stories, I’ve had no edits to do whatsoever, outside of a typo here and there.

So what is it I’m doing, you ask? How do I edit? You’re not asking that? Well I’m going to tell you anyway. Though all of my edits are done using change tracking in MS Word, I tend to not use the grammar checker, as it’s…well, lacking to say the least. I do use spell checker (though I pride myself on my spelling, even I miss things). what I look for are changes in POV (point of view for those not familiar with the abbreviations), continuity, gaps in logic and anything a reader might question. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, not only as a reader myself, but as a writer and now editor/publisher is that people do like to point out mistakes. My job is to make sure there are as few mistakes as possible.

For example: in one story, there’s a main character, a jealous, foul mouthed wife, who lets loose a string of choice words and then refers to a prostitute as a floozy. When I read that, it didn’t sit right. Here she is as crude as can be, then uses a word as innocuous as floozy? I asked the writer if he could change that to something else, and gave him my reason why. Now that may be a small thing, but it keeps the woman in character, adds to her depth a bit, and doesn’t jolt the reader out of the story. It’s consistency in content, story and action that I look for. I won’t dwell on typos and punctuation errors with the writer, I can handle those, but everything that has to do with making the story as engulfing and engrossing as possible is what I’m looking for. I want each and every reader to have the best experience possible. If they end up not liking a story, I don’t want it to be because I did a poor job of keeping everything consistent.

Another thing I look for is word choices, and repetition of the same words in a sentence or paragraph. There’s only so many words for blood (or words that would make you think of blood), but using crimson two or three times in a paragraph isn’t the way to do it.  no one ever does the deliberately, but as you write, you sometimes lose track, and it’s very easy to do (I do it all the time, one reason I’m good at catching them), but it still takes a reader out of the story.

I have six stories right now that I would consider final drafts, meaning I don’t have any further notes or suggestions for the writer at this time. Once I get a final draft for every story, I’ll go through them once more to see if there’s anything I missed and do one last round if needed. If not, then it goes into the final draft folder and awaits layout.

And what will those stories do as they wait in the final draft folder? Well, they’ll be biding time until their companion illustrations are drawn. This was a very, very last minute idea, and were it not for the fact I saw a drawing by the artist via a retweet from someone I follow on twitter, I never would have thought of it. While Noah is not a professional artist, I think if you check out his idea of Alice in Wonderland, you’ll think the same thing I did, “Why the hell has no one picked up his work?”  Take a look at it here: http://twitpic.com/1690xo. That was literally all I needed to see to get the idea for a small illustration for each story. Not only will the talented Mr. Rip err O’Toole doing that, he’ll be designing the border for the signature sheets for all the Dead West pre-orders as well as doing the cover for Barbed Wire Kisses.  I spoke with Noah on the phone for the first time yesterday, and had such a positive conversation, I want to utilize him for as much as I can in the future. If you like his work also, I suggest you think about using him for any projects you may have in the works. You can follow him on twitter and friend him on facebook.

And finally, yes, there will be signature sheets and they will ONLY be available for those who pre-order Dead West when it’s ready. Every writer, plus Noah, and myself will be signing them. Quantities will be limited, so when Dead West becomes available to pre-order make sure to grab a copy!

In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting previews of the artwork, working on a book trailer and releasing snippets of select stories on the Bandersnatch website, so please keep myself and Bandersnatchbooks.com bookmarked!

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