My head is spinning! Little wonder, since I just spent about five hours with Linda, my dear friend and eagle-eyed reader. We went over her notations on my YA novel page by page and boy am I glad we did. She is a super-sharp reader on several fronts. First there’s the technical aspect of catching typos and copy editing. But far more important, there are logic gaps, inconsistencies, and story problems that surfaced as she was reading, all of which she highlighted for me. What a huge gift!
It’s amazing how many errors can creep into an advanced draft and how hard it is for the person writing to catch them. Somehow, the eye simply slips over them. A lot of these are errors that won’t show up in SpellCheck because they’re words that are actually spelled correctly but aren’t right given the context. Everyone of these mistakes needs to be fixed if I’m going to deliver a totally polished draft, which is certainly my goal.
The content issues that Linda zeroed in on for me are the big fish I’m trying to catch. Some of the ones she flagged for me are relatively simple to fix — deleting a clumsy phrase or correcting an inconsistency that a reader would find jarring. And some are judgment calls on my part: should I delete a couple of paragraphs that seem out of place and slow down the pace, or try to rewrite them? Linda also had a strong reaction to the end of my story which I have to pay really close attention to and address if I want readers to feel satisfied. After talking for a while, we came up with the bones of a solution that I think can be fleshed out.
Making all these fixes is going to take some time, but that’s no problem: I know they’ll make my novel stronger and that’s what I want. Now I can see why even super successful authors like Stephen King and Ken Follett have a small band of trusted readers they turn to for input at a critical stage in their writing. It’s just incredibly valuable to have fresh eyes and insights. Thank you, Linda!