Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Oh, you noticed that?

By Tracy Kiely

By the time I turn in my “finished”* manuscript, I have read it and re-read it so many times that not only can I not find minor misspellings, but I would’t be able to spot a major plot hole even if it came up and introduced itself. (But to be honest, they rarely do. They are a secretive group of bastards.)

I honestly think that if you were to somehow access my book and then randomly insert an obscenity laced rant on the stupidity that dictates that batteries are packaged in thick, bullet-proof plastic that apparently is also designed for space travel, while lightbulbs are left to fend for themselves in a thin piece of cardboard which has also been helpfully left open at both ends, I wouldn’t notice. At all.

When I finally turn in a book, I am heartily and utterly sick of it. I not only think it’s a utter pile of crap, but I am quite sure that once it is read, I will be asked - nay, requested - by the publishing community en masse to go away. Forever.  Of course, this is why writers are assigned editors. Or at least, that’s why I am. These lovely people read my work and then gently mention such facts as “Wednesday” has two “e’s” in it and that the description “burning flames” is a tad redundant. They also will point out that the character “Susan” who you so cheerfully introduced on page 14 as a “thin blonde,” has not only inexplicably morphed into a buxom brunette by page one hundred and ten, but now calls herself “Debbie.” 

Luckily, I have been had some really great editors work on my books. I mean, really, let’s face it, they have to assign me their A Team - until they inevitably throw up their hands in justifiable frustration and quit the business. But before they do, they catch all sorts of goofs. Yes, I’ve done it all. Time line mistakes, unexplained wardrobe changes, unexplained gender changes, you name it. But one of my “best” goofs was in my last novel (Murder With A Twist, perfect for hostess gifts, door stops, or plugging nasty leaks).

At the end scene, all the characters are helpfully gathered for dinner so my protagonist can cleverly reveal the identity of the murderer. (Don’t you love it when that happens?  So convenient that everyone was in the mood for Italian that night!) Except, in my original draft I had a police detective by the name of “Marcy” present. After chatting with my agent, we agreed that it was best that Marcy not be at this dinner. (I mean, don’t get me wrong, she’s nice and all, but it was more of a family affair.)  So I removed her. Or so I thought. As I read the final review - the one where the exhausted publishing team kindly reminds you that “THIS IS IT, TRACY! NO MORE CHANGES! SERIOUSLY, WE HAVE OTHER CLIENTS!” I noticed that Marcy had suddenly - and without invitation, I might add - inserted herself into the dinner scene. Rude? Yes. Stealthy? Undoubtedly. But, there she was. Eating her shrimp scampi and chiming in about the case. I politely and quietly removed her from the scene.

Now, granted there are always errors in books - well, let me rephrase. I hope there are always errors in books, because it sure makes me feel better about my lousy editing skills. This sentiment is also behind my need to watch Hoarders and Dr. Phil, but that’s another post. 

* “Finished” is a term that I’ve been told, repeatedly, in no way accurately describes the mess I submit. 


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Susan C Shea said...

Hilarious, Tracy, and way too close for comfort to my own gaffes! You do send masses of flowers to your editors periodically, right?

Paul D. Marks said...

I'll never think about lightbulbs and batteries the same again. And ditto Susan's "Hilarious!"