Copey Copy This
What’s the most difficult stage of the writing process for you? First draft? Beta read? Structural edit? Copy edit? Proofread? I suppose the question is a sort of Rorschach test for each individual writer, particularly the indie writer who often is not in a position to shop out any portion of the process and therefore must do it all by themselves.
For me, the most difficult—as well as the most important portion—is the copy editing stage. The copy editing stage is the stage that adds the polish necessary to truly elevate a work. Without solid copy editing, even the most engaging story will put many readers off due to typos and grammatical issues.
So how do you get someone to copyedit your work? Simple: you pay them a fairly large sum of money. Now typically, I don’t have a large sum of money that I could just throw at some copyeditor. Hell, I wish I could because copy editing, alongside with being the most important stage, is also the most mind numbingly boring stage. The most difficult stage. The least fun stage. And on top of that, it seems there is never any way to truly rid your manuscript of all those little errors you just can’t see anymore.
But you know all of this already.
So here’s a little trick I’ve used on my books: print out your manuscript and then use text-reader software to read it to you as you skim over it. Set the reader to a speed that’s in the Goldilocks range for you and then sit back and listen, finger hovering above the pause button, waiting for mistakes. You will find them.
One of my English teachers in high school taught me to read my work out loud when editing. It was a great tip and still is. However, if you have the attention span of a six-year-old, as I do, you invariably read over the mistakes because you just don’t see them anymore.
Having the text reader read to you provides some clinical detachment. Like regular copy editing, do it in small chunks. I find one chapter per sitting works best.
You’ll detect grammatical errors. You’ll hear misspells. You’ll find it highlights the repetition of words in short spans. Bottom line: if you take the time to go through your entire manuscript this way, you’re sure to find many of those nagging little errors that have eluded you up until this point.
So give it a try and happy hunting,