Tag Archive | editing

What, me hire an editor? No way!

Pierre Bonnard

Pierre Bonnard

Hallelujah! HOPE DAWNS ETERNAL is finally ready to publish, or almost. Yesterday I finished combining the prologue and 36 chapters into one gigantic document of 265 pages and 78,318 words – longer than I’d expected, but an ideal length for the first book of a trilogy. Or who knows, maybe it’ll become a longer series. I feel as if I’ve barely begun to explore all the possibilities in this paranormal soap opera vampire saga.

In countless workshops and articles, I’ve heard the same advice: get an editor. I’ve always disregarded it, convinced I’m my own best editor. This time my husband, who has extensive professional experience in publishing, gave my final draft a careful read-through, and he found relatively few things that needed changing. Even so, it’s amazing how many nit-picky things I’ve found to research even after I thought I was finished.

Murray's Cheese Bar, Bleecker Street, NY

Murray’s Cheese Bar, Bleecker Street, NY

The names of cheeses, for example – how do you know which to capitalize? Swiss cheese, with its many holes, is a no brainer, but how about Brie or Stilton? Yes, they’re capitalized because they’re named for specific locations where they originated, but it takes some Googling to find out which are actual place names. Some are capitalized because they’re domain-protected, like Parmigiano-Reggiano, which can only be made in those specific cities. We don’t capitalize ricotta, though, because the name simply means “recooked.”

And what about hats? I had my hero hunkered down in a cab, with a fedora Hat styles - menpulled down low to hide his face, but I thought I’d better check to be sure that was actually the correct word for the hat I was visualizing. Turns out I was right. Picture Bogart, Sinatra or the film noir heroes and villains of countless 40’s movies – they’re all wearing fedoras. But in the course of my research, I learned all about porkpies and homburgs too.

 

Then there are new-fangled terms like showrunner. It’s the trendy term for the head honchos/creators/auteurs of TV series, like David Chase of The Sopranos  and Vince Gilligan of Breaking Bad.* But is it one word or two? When I was working on my first draft two years ago, Word’s Spellcheck underlined showrunner with that squiggly red line every time I used it, but now the powers-that-be at Microsoft have decided it’s a genuine word, and the red squiggle is no more. In the new Vanity Fair, however, Beau Willimon, the creator of the Netflix series House of Cards, is described as a hyphenated “show-runner.”

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano

Consistency is the key – that’s why publishers and periodicals have style guides, and they don’t always agree. In my personal style manual, showrunner is one word, but I found a couple of instances where I’d made it two, so I changed them. And I’m ultra-cautious with the “find” and “replace” functions, which can lead to weird consequences. For example, I had a villainous character named “Nick,” and I changed him to “Mick.” My husband caught the line where I said something happened “in the Mick of time.”

But these are just copy editing issues. Then of course there’s the over-all flow of the story line, the characters – I could go on and on about that kind of editing, but I’ve said enough for one post. I’ve done my damnedest to make this novel the very best it can be. That’s not to say it couldn’t be better, but I’m not changing a word. If some agent or publisher wants to take it on and offers me a gazillion dollars upfront, I may reconsider. Until then, for better or worse, Hope Dawns Eternal is a fait accompli, and I’m ready to send it out into the world. With any luck, it will be available by the end of February. Then it’s on to the sequel!

*Brett Martin’s book Difficult Men (Penguin, 2013) is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the evolution of modern series like The Sopranos, Mad Men and Breaking Bad.

P.S. I still haven’t found my illustrator and designer, and I need money to hire good ones. Please help by donating to me at www.gofundme.com/gep8ts. Every little bit helps, and I’m offering prizes. I may even name a character after you!

 

 

 

 

Editing Excellence – Remembering My Father

Forest stream photo“As a journalist in a newsroom, I never worried about how to write. I just did it. I put words on my computer screen to meet a deadline.”

These words from Alexis Grant jumped out at me this morning. I’d left her blog up on my screen when I turned off the monitor late last night, intending to write her a comment, but today the words triggered a whole new chain of thought – about blogging and about my father, Wallace Lomoe, who was Managing Editor and later Executive Editor of The Milwaukee Journal. He inspired my love of writing, but more importantly perhaps, he passed on the perfectionistic standards that make me a ruthless editor of my own work. It’s appropriate to pay tribute to him on Father’s Day.

But first, about the blogging. Alexis was writing about the differences between journalistic writing and tackling an entire book, but “I put words on my computer screen to meet a deadline” is an apt description of my approach to blogging till now. A phrase or a few scattered ideas begin percolating in my mind. Sometimes I jot down some notes in my little blue blog book, but more often I sit down at the computer and lo and behold, the words begin to flow onto the screen. Basically, it’s the same way I go about writing a novel, except that with the novel, there’s an overall story arc that keeps me pointed in a more or less coherent direction. In blogging, I’ve been disregarding the bigger picture, and I’ve decided that has to change. But more on that in tomorrow’s post – today’s is about my father.

Wallace Lomoe was born in northern Wisconsin in 1898. In his youth, he

Library of Congress photo

Library of Congress photo

dreamed of writing The Great American Novel. In search of background and inspiration, he spent most of the1920’s living the archetypal hobo’s life, riding the rails and doing odd jobs throughout the country. By 1928, he was back home, working as a reporter at The Superior Telegram, where two significant events occurred. He met my mother, Viola Wick, also a cub reporter at the Telegram. They married soon after, and as was all too typical back then, she abandoned her career to become a wife and mother. And Calvin Coolidge spent a summer fishing in northern Wisconsin. The Telegram assigned my father to cover the President’s vacation, both because of his writing skills and because he was an ace fisherman and northwoods guide. His stories got picked up by the Associated Press, and The Milwaukee Journal offered him a job.

In the years that followed, he rose through the ranks from City Editor and Managing Editor to Executive Editor. Known as “the bear,” he inspired respect and fear in his underlings. Once a reporter who had just won a Pulitzer Prize came to him for a raise, and he refused, saying, “The Pulitzer has nothing to do with your salary.” Along the way, he abandoned his dream of writing The Great American Novel and ultimately destroyed a lengthy manuscript that would at the very least have made a marvellous memoir. Evidently the book didn’t live up to his own exacting standards.

My father’s memory lives on in the annals of journalism. Googling his name this morning, I found 273 hits, including one in a book I hadn’t known existed: Joe McCarthy and the Press by Edwin R. Bayley. My father was a staunch enemy of the witch-hunting senator, as evidenced in the following quote:

“We think McCarthy is a sideshow barker in dealing with the press,” said Wallace Lomoe, managing editor of the Milwaukee Journal. “First he drops a hint. Then he gives out a name. Third, he gives his version of what the name said or did. And the press carries all three.”

I’ve never seen this quote before, but discovering it delights me this morning, when I devoured our local Sunday paper in under an hour while bemoaning its pitiful contents. My father died in 1975, but if by some miracle he were reincarnated, what would he think of the state of journalism these days? He’d probably be shaking off the gloom and doom and focusing on mastering the internet, just as I am today.

The Milwaukee Journal merged with the Milwaukee Sentinel in 1995. The Journal was an afternoon paper, fiercely independent, whereas the Sentinel was a morning paper, part of the Hearst empire. In our family, “Hearst” was almost as dirty a word as “McCarthy.” The Journal Sentinel now publishes mornings, and the Journal’s glory days are long gone.