In this post, I’ll look back at some errors specific to drafting and editing stages I’ve made.
Both early drafting (before beta) and later drafting is supposed to fix errors but, as nothing is perfect, it might lead to new ones. And some of them are of a kind you won’t see in a first draft (most of the time).
Chapter name/number issues
Chapter headers, whether they are numbers, names, or both, are text like any other. Even they are not immune to errors. While text-only is a bit more foolproof, it’s still not immune.
The issue: duplicate names or numbers.
How are they created: When it comes to drafting/editing, the most vulnerable stage is any kind of chapter manipulation: deleting, merging, or splitting. Moving scenes from one place to another can also contribute. The issues I had a few times was two chapters with the same number after a split/merge (I forgot to renumber some). Another issues I had were various placeholder marks I forgot to remove for a “proofread build” (though I managed to remove all of them before the first beta stage).
Told simply, these sneaky bastards will be missing here and there. Especially when editing dialogue, mistakenly adding/deleting one is not hard to do.
The issue: Leftover “to do:” type of working notes.
How they are created: While I was fixing most minor issues on the go, sometimes I left “Edit this” with a few words describing the issue right in the text to return to it later. Again, I was glad I catched the last two before I handed the draft over to the first beta. Worse part was that I had the simpler ones as a normal text (just of a different color) so the smaller notes were easy to miss. I’ve moved to using tier 3 heading to mark places I need to adjust so they are visible in the navigation/ToC panel as I work.
The issue: Especially as I began editing based on early beta feedback, I was struggling with the switching between two windows (my file and feedback file) which led to several issues. Most of the time, something I was planning to delete was not deleted completely (such as only a part of a sentence, or missing a line or two of paragraph to be removed).
How are they created: Two possibilities here.
The first, as mentioned, is by lack of care when switching between several files (can be more than two – apart from feedback file and the actual draft, I have some other files I used to check consistency, such as my own “archive” of edit notes/ideas and a character spreadsheet). Bad “calibration” between your fingers and your brain can lead to deleting either more or less than intended. In both cases, it’ll lead to visibly disturbed flow between sentences or paragraphs.
The second possibility is related to my technique of editing larger portions of text (ranging from half of a paragraph to a whole scene or chapter). I usually hit “enter” a few times to create a free space dividing the original text from the new one so I can look back at what I wrote (to make sure what I wanted to tell stays there) and only delete that when the affected section is rewritten (in case of scene/chapter rewrites, I usually do it by half-pages). Again, when removing the old text, it might happen something unintentionally stays there. Likewise, it might happen that something disturby my thoughts and I leave a sentence unfinished – and do no notice it at that moment.
My solution to this is to first re-read massively edited sequences at least two times (and correct the issues I find) before calling the (sub)draft final and going for complete self-read.
What I mean by this is cases that have a different text (usually bold or italic). Reasons for these might wary – some authors use bold text for shouted lines or lines said by characters with much louder voice (dragons, for example). Italics are often used for internal thoughts, correspondence*, or specific custom terms (such as spells/incantations or custom objects and technology)
*correspondence might also be done with a different font or, in case of printed books, a different background
The issue: missing or incorrect formatting (duh) of the abovementioned type.
How are they created: Mostly not noticing or forgetting, especially when one’s ideas come way faster than the hands can process them. There’s only one way to help this problem, same to the issue above: one or two eatra reads to chapters edited during a writing rush.
So, those are some of the issues and errors I was making during editing. Of course, that does not mean the ‘ordinary’ ones (such as typos, missing commas, etc.) do not appear – they just aren’t specific for editing.
I’ll welcome your thoughts. Did you have some specific kinds of issues during editing? Feel free to share.