Tag Archives: Proofreading

Why Readers Stop Reading a Book.

Recently, we here at LitWorldInterviews.com conducted a survey, “Why do you put a book down?” and through the assistance of the writing community we had a very nice response of over 100 participants (I stopped counting.). Now it’s time to share what we found.

First, I want to say why the survey was conducted. We wanted to help writers by giving them the information they most need. If a reader takes the time to check out your book and don’t like it, they are unlikely to give you a second chance with your next work. First impressions mean a lot.

86.30% of those responding were Female, thus leaving the remaining 13.70% Male. Considering the majority of those reading novels are Female, although not quite this extreme, I’m comfortable with sharing what we found.

There were 34 sub-categories as a result of the survey. Those results were then placed into 5 main categories: Writing, Editing, Proofreading, Taste, and Other, with Writing providing the largest number of sub-categories and results.

68.49% of those responding noted some form of dissatisfaction with Writing as a reason for putting a book down.

26.03% gave Editing.

23.29% gave Proofreading.

17.81% was Taste.

2.74% was Other.

Let’s take a look at the Writing sub-categories first.

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Writing Concerns of Readers Pie Chart

The above pie chart shows the concerns in descending order of greatest number of mentions. The story being Dull was the most frequently mentioned problem with 25.29% of the mentions of the Category. Followed by actual Bad Writing, then Dull or Unbelievable Characters, Info Dump, and uses  of Profanity.

Let me speak about Profanity for a moment, this along with Gore, Violence, and Sex were all mentioned in the context of being included in the story for no apparent reason. Most of those who noted it as a concern stated they know these things occur in books, and even have a place, but the problem arose when the author was using them as obvious crutches in an attempt to hide poor writing and plot.

The subcategories of Writing Concerns as identified by readers are as follows in descending order: Dull, Bad Writing, Unbelievable Characters, Info Dump, Profanity, Over Describing, Violence, Weak Narrative, Confusing Beginning, Unexpected Sex, Gore, Weak Story, Bad Dialogue, Dashes, Racism, Poor Relationships, Head Hopping, Repetition, and Writing with Dialect Accents.

What does this tell us? The first thing that jumps out to me is that we as authors aren’t putting out books with stories that are capturing the attention of the reader. With a book done with professional intent behind it, a dull story should be the reason our books are not read. That’s right, we are not read because we just didn’t do a good job of telling our story. Maybe we didn’t have the right beta readers. Maybe they were too nice. Maybe they just went through the motions. Maybe they just aren’t that good at the task. Or maybe we should recognize our work isn’t that good. How about all of the above?

Let’s look at Editing Concerns

There were four subcategories for Editing Concerns: Actual Bad Editing, Plot Holes, Sentence Structure, and No Scene Breaks for Time Lapses.

Click Image For Larger View

Editing Concerns of Readers Pie Chart

The bad thing about writing a novel is the author knows everything that is happening, even behind the scenes, the back story the reader never sees, and the in between scenes that happen. The problem this creates is hopefully caught during editing. A good editor can save a book from disaster. Fresh eyes see old mistakes that the author overlooks each time they’ve gone through each of the five drafts they’ve done.

An Editor is not responsible for rewriting a novel. I want to make that clear. They take what a writer gives them, looks for plot holes, sentence structure, weak story development, and things of that nature. They are not a Proofreader. I think people confuse the two, but having been associated with a professional Proofreader who has guest hosted here on the site, I know the difference.

If you pay an Editor they are to give you the tightest and most entertaining story they can from what you’ve given them. Of course you, as the author, can disregard everything, but that would be a foolish thing to do. I have a writing mentor who edits some things I give her at times. I take some of what she offers and disregard others because of the importance of what that means to the overall story, a story she isn’t fully aware of yet.

Notice I didn’t throw everything away, and I took into consideration what she said about the part I disregarded. I changed things to make that part seem more relevant to the story at that point, without giving anything away.

But what we get from this part of the survey is that readers notice editing of a book. The idea of not editing a book crosses the minds of Indie Authors. We’ve been through the book a dozen times. We know it’s just fine the way it is. Note the sarcasm I said those last couple of sentences with. I’m not saying it’s impossible to edit your own work, but you would have to be able to step away from the work long enough to see it with fresh eyes, several times. At least that’s my opinion. You also have to become slightly detached from this labor of love, in some cases.

Proofreading Concerns

There isn’t a need for a chart here. There were two sub-categories: Proofreading (66.66%), and Grammar (33.33%).

I have to say, this is an area I notice a lot in books. If there are proofreading problems in a book, they take me out of the story, out of the world created by the writer. Every book has a proofreading error, or perhaps a printing error, not so much on the printing these days with the modern printing methods, but back in the old days of typesetting, errors happened.

I’ve read several books for the purpose of reviews and I have put some down because of the proofreading problems. I honestly don’t think there was any proofreading conducted. You might get past the dull story, even some bad editing, but when you are constantly tripped up by spelling errors, punctuation, and all of that, you eventually become tired of it all.

Taste Concerns of the Reader

There were 7 different sub-categories placed under taste: Slow Beginning (30.77%), Tragic Ending (15.38%), Difficult Vocabulary (15.38%), Too Much Detail (15.38%), Back Story (7.69%), Genre (7.69%), and Cliffhanger Ending (7.69%).

Click Image for Larger View.

Taste Concerns of Readers Pie ChartYou won’t find two readers with exactly the same taste. They may have a discussion and it sounds like they are the same, but put five books in front of them and have them read them, I would be willing to bet you would get different opinions.

Some books, due to the nature of the story and world, may require a slow beginning. The trend is to jump right into action to capture the reader’s interest, but perhaps your story doesn’t fit that type of trend. Difficult vocabulary may be part of how a certain character speaks.

But I understand what the readers are saying. Sometimes the way things are done, they are not necessary. I think when it all makes sense, a reader is fine with it, but just as when people throw profanity or gore into a story, sometimes these tastes, other than perhaps genre, are signs of weak storytelling and plot.

Other

There were only two that fell into the Other category: Having the book available for Screen Readers, and Having a Misleading Book Description.

I think these are two very valid reasons to not read a book. As my eyesight fails I know it becomes more difficult to read. Some will say just get glasses, but this is due to medications I must take. Eventually I will likely not be able to see at all. But I love books. It would be a shame to not buy a book because it didn’t work with my screen reader.

As for a misleading book description? It may be the opinion of the reader as to the misleading nature or not. If it truly is misleading, I think the book needs removing or at least the description updated.

 Conclusion

What all did we learn from the survey? Good writing and story, with good editing and proofreading will make for a page turner.



by Ronovan Hester

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Getting Edited

Some writers love being edited, and others really, really don’t. Once we’re finished with our darling that we think is absolutely perfect as it is, the last thing we want is criticism. Ann Rice refuses to be edited. Other than proofreading, her words are all written exactly as she wants them. Most other writers, famous or otherwise, tend to have their work edited.

Getting your manuscript back with comments all over the place, and your favourite scene completely trashed could very well lead to apoplectic rage or rivers of tears. If so much is wrong then obviously you must be an absolutely rubbish writer and you may just as well give up could be your next thought—the one that comes after writing the rudest, most insultingly literate letter to your editor before hopefully having the good sense to delete it.

The thing to remember is that when it comes to changing your actual story, as an Indie, only you get to decide. You don’t have to take your editor’s suggestions on board if you don’t want to. Typos and grammar, yes, those must be fixed, but at the end of the day the story is only yours, and no editor is going to be cross with you for not agreeing with their suggestions. They’re just trying to help, but their tastes are different to yours, and many other people too. Just because you’ve hired an editor doesn’t mean that you are obligated to change anything at all, so if you’re happy with any parts of your book where changes are suggested, then rather get a second opinion or simply leave it as you like it.

A useful tool to use with Microsoft Word for when you do want input from others on your manuscripts, or vice versa by the way, is to be found in the Review tab. Click on Track Changes.

Track changes in word image.

You can change words, delete or insert.

Deleting in word image.

You can add comments.

add comments in word image

Changes can be approved or rejected.

approve changes in word image

Indie Author Services from @JoRobinson176

Three great services from one of the best! Jo Robinson is now a gun for hire. Get her now before her rates go up … and they will.

Jo Robinson

I’m making very good inroads catching up with my emails, but still not all clear there. I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your loving and kind wishes, and I will get to each and every one of you. I’m not quite at warp zoom speed yet, but I’ll get there. I have to get stuck into earning an income from what I do straight away (to avoid the whole camping out under a tree thing), so I’ve had my head down for a while sorting out my website. I’m launching my services now at really low prices to begin with to get a feel for costing, and I’ll adjust them upwards a little later, so grabbing them now even if you only want them for later would be a fabulous idea. I’ve taken down my pre-made book covers page here, and replaced it…

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Fact in Fiction. by Guest Author @wendyproof

A well-researched novel is a joy to read. I love it when an author seamlessly weaves his or her research into a story. An excellent example of this is Susan Louineau’s The Chapel in the Woods. I enjoyed this book so much, I felt compelled to write a review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/576806766

However, too many facts can get in the way. The research overpowers the fiction. I had to stop reading one political thriller because the author wanted to tell me everything he knew about the workings of the British Parliament from its inception to the present day. I was so lost in the detail that I couldn’t locate the beginning of the actual story.

Equally, a lack of research can also get in the way of telling a good story. If the facts are wrong it undermines the fiction.

These facts include things like the spelling and punctuation of the names of well-known companies, products and people. When proofreading novels I regularly have to remove an extraneous apostrophe from a popular coffee chain, and equally regularly add one to a popular burger chain.

I need the internet to do my job efficiently. Without checking online I wouldn’t know how many ff’s and whether it’s ei or ie for Michelle Pfeiffer.

I often wonder what the internet bods who monitor everyone’s online life must think about me. Driven by the proclivities of the fiction I’ve been proofreading in the last few months, I have recently found myself looking up French fashion designers of the 1950s, automatic pistols and yoga positions. I fondly hope they think I’m a well-dressed, dead-eyed assassin, who can balance on one leg for an hour.

As well as confirming spellings of the names of Renaissance artists, towns in Madagascar and the odd rare cheese, I sometimes carry out more extensive fact-checking and research online. Not to the level and expertise of an editor, but when proofreading I double-check dates and historical references if they strike me as incorrect. It gives me great joy to spot an anachronism or two. Allow me a little fun:

Debbie put the phone down and dashed to her diary. Turning to 10 January 1983, she wrote: “First date with G!!!!” Finally, finally, the man of her dreams had asked her out. Admittedly watching Pulp Fiction at the local cinema wouldn’t have been her first choice, she would have preferred a romantic meal at the new Italian restaurant in the high street, but a date was a date. And it was with Gary!

Not the ideal first-date movie, I’ll grant you, but that’s not the biggest problem for our young couple. They should be more concerned that that particular film won’t be out for more than a decade.

Living so close to London, I love proofreading books set in the capital. They give me an excuse to double-check all sorts of snippets about its history and geography. The London Underground is my favourite obsession – the three maps on my dining room walls can attest to that.

This is why I was thrilled when a few years ago, author Larry Brill asked me and my husband (an even bigger London buff than I am) to help him with some research for his satire on modern media, set in 1760s London. He’d written the story, but wanted some advice on the authenticity of the dialogue and the accuracy of the depiction of London geography.

Part of the humour of this story is generated by the juxtaposition of modern phrases alongside authentic eighteenth-century London language. However, the reader needs to feel secure that the author is in control and is using modern idiom on purpose, rather than in error. As soon as a reader starts to wonder whether a particular word would really have been used at that time, the suspension of disbelief is broken.

We looked for words that might jolt the reader out of eighteenth-century London and undermine the whole wonderful conceit. We debated long and hard about the use of words such as “moniker” and “conniption” (nineteenth century) “doozy” and “ginormous” (twentieth century).

As well as spending a lot of his time in London pubs, the lead character also wanders the streets of London. So we spent many a happy hour poring over old maps to check that his walks along Fleet Street and The Strand would indeed take him to his intended destinations.

We also double-checked the dates for the construction of the now-familiar bridges across the Thames. We were surprised to learn that there weren’t many options for walking over the Thames in 1760s London: only London and Westminster Bridges existed at that time. We suggested to the author that he remove or amend references to Blackfriars, which didn’t open to the public until 1769, and Waterloo Bridge, which wasn’t ready until 1817.

I would hesitate to put myself forward as a professional researcher, but it was heaps of fun and I hope we played a tiny part in helping the author ensure that the reader fully enjoys the reading experience.

In case this has whetted your appetite for this gem of a book, here’s a link to The Patterer by Larry Brill: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18587008-the-patterer?from_search=true

To sum up…

An untrue “fact” or a historical “blooper”, while delighting the sort of person who loves to spot howlers, can spoil the flow for the majority of readers who want to be entertained as well as educated.

Too many facts, however brilliantly researched, can take a good story and turn it into a textbook, or worse – a dreary showing off of the author’s knowledge. A little learning goes a long way.

The internet and the reference library are the author’s/editor’s/proofreader’s friend. Authors/editors/proofreaders, do you have any websites or books you use when you research that you’d like to share?

wendy_janes_author.jpgWendy Janes is a successful freelance proofreader for a range of large and small publishers and has been for over a decade. She has a Bachelor of Education degree from Goldsmiths College (London University) and a Chapterhouse qualification in proofreading and copy editing. Her own work can be found in two anthologies; A Kind of Mad Courage and Romantic Heroes , the non-fiction memoir of her grandfather The One and Sixpenny Englishman, and her full length literary fiction novel What Jennifer Knows. For her services, go to her site http://wendyproof.co.uk/testimonials/ and make certain to connect with her on Twitter, . (She in no way proofread this bio.)


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The Proof is in the Reading. by Guest Author @wendyproof

The Proof is in the Reading

If I do my job properly, I am invisible.

Very few of us finish reading a novel and say, “That book was beautifully proofread.” And who would want to? A story should transport us, take us out of our everyday lives, excite or move us in some way. We don’t want the misspelling of a character’s name or a missing full stop to jolt us out of the story. OK, maybe that can be forgiven when we’re being swept along by an entertaining tale, but repeated typos and inconsistencies can undermine our trust in the author’s ability to spin a good yarn.

When I’m proofreading, I’m always thinking about the link between the author’s words and the reader’s mind. I like to believe that I play a tiny part in ensuring that the story travels cleanly from one to the other. I often find myself asking two questions: “What is this author trying to say?” and “Will the reader understand it?” Using these questions as my focus I spend hours choosing when to intervene and when to step away. It often feels like I’m walking a tightrope.

I’d like to demonstrate some elements of this high-wire act, and share with you the types of decisions I make when I’m proofreading fiction. This post inevitably touches on the differences between proofreading and editing, and I’ll say categorically, up-front, no doubt about it, I’m in the troupe that firmly pitches its circus tent in a fuzzy grey area. However, as a general rule, when proofreading I tend to only correct proofreading errors and make suggestions or ask questions about editing issues.

So, let’s get down to details with one example of a descriptive passage and a couple of examples of dialogue.

Dirk has escaped from his kidnappers and the author is describing how he’s now lost in the desert:

The son beat down like a demon, dragging his very soul from his aching limbs. Dirk couldn’t take any more of this dessert. It filled him with a stomach-churning dread. He could be stuck hear for ever in these dessert sands that stretched for ever. The harsh, cruel, unrelenting terrain played tricks on his tired mind and his weak body.

Having corrected “son” to “sun” and “dessert” to “desert” and “hear” to “here”, there really isn’t anything else I should go ahead and amend as a proofreader. I would probably add a note to suggest avoiding the repetition of “for ever”, but however much I might want to cut down on the number of adjectives describing the terrain or think that the word “battered” would work heaps better than “weak”, I have to rein myself in because it’s not my job to put my stamp on an author’s work.

Let’s move forward to the moment Dirk is being helicoptered out from the “harsh, cruel, unrelenting terrain” of the desert. The dialogue runs:

“How long have you been out there?” The medic enquired.

“Dunno,” said Dirk, “L-lost track of t-time,” he coughed.

“Take a sip of this,” the medic offered a bottle of water.

I’d make the following corrections:

Line 1: Change “The medic” to “the medic”.

Line 2: Alter the comma to a full stop after “Dirk”.

Line 3: Amend the comma to a full stop after “this” and “the medic” to “The medic”.

Basically I’m ensuring that speech tags and action tags are punctuated correctly. I have a dilemma deciding what to do with the second line. Strictly speaking “he coughed” is action rather than speech and so the comma after “time” should be a full stop and the “h” of “he” should be amended to upper case. However, the hyphens suggest to me that Dirk is coughing as he’s speaking (probably he’s suffering from all the sand that got down his throat after an undisclosed number of days in the desert), so I’d probably leave this, even though the grammar police are probably beating a path to my door as I type.

Dialogue can be an excellent way to efficiently drive a story forward, but often when a book has been through a few drafts I’ve found some authors have lost track, and included details in both the dialogue and the narrative, which results in unnecessary repetition. We now find Dirk being interviewed by the police after his kidnap ordeal. He’s been asked to provide a description of the kidnapper whose afternoon nap allowed him to escape:

“Tall guy, six-two or six-three maybe, well-built, massive shoulders, like a rugby player, black hair, longish, clean-shaven, broken nose.”

“What about accent? Anything unusual about his voice?” asked the policeman.

“English, probably London. Deep voice,” replied Dirk, remembering how the kidnapper tried to intimidate him with his height, his deep voice and rugby-playing physique, but that he whimpered like a baby in his sleep.

Here I would guess that the author initially put the detail in the speech, then in a later draft decided to do this via Dirk’s memory, but forgot to remove the detail from the description. It’s not a proofreading error, but I’d query whether the repetition was on purpose or not.

Which leads me on to another question I often ask: “Has the author done this on purpose or not?” The most exciting writing breaks the rules, and I need to be alert to the occasions when an author breaks the rules on purpose. A very simple example of this is when an author drops in short phrases rather than full sentences to inject pace and drama. It’s usually pretty clear that the author knows perfectly well how to write a conventional sentence, but has chosen a few choppy phrases to create an effect.

I don’t sit there wielding my red pen correcting novels as if I’m a teacher (although I was a teacher long, long ago), nor is it my job to criticise an author’s work or to show off. I’m fully aware that the author of Dirk’s adventure knows how to spell “sun”, “desert” and “here”. They are typos, not a reflection of the author’s intelligence or ability to write. I don’t approach my job in a judgemental way.

I do need to tune in and judge how formal or informal the author’s style is and in turn respect the author’s voice. So if an author regularly uses the comma splice or doesn’t punctuate “that” and “which” in the way that I was taught at school, as long as the meaning is clear I won’t change the text. And as long as the use of commas works for a sentence I won’t get bogged down in gradable, qualitative, classifying or coordinate adjectives. Essentially, if the author is getting the message across I try my hardest not to interfere.

A little aside, in case you are interested in the comma splice and the punctuation of “that” and “which”. Here’s a basic outline:

  • The comma splice, also known as the run-on sentence, occurs when you use a comma to join two unrelated main clauses. For example, “I enjoy proofreading novels, I spend all day playing with words.” Strictly speaking the comma should be replaced by a semicolon or colon, or the two clauses linked by a conjunction. I have to admit to a guilty fondness for the rhythm of comma splices.
  • “That” is used without a preceding comma to introduce text that is integral to the sentence, whereas “which” is preceded by a comma when the text is not integral to the sentence, which makes sense really.

If you’re interested in reading more about those gradable, qualitative, classifying and coordinate adjectives I suggest you set aside an hour, pour yourself a strong cup of tea or a stiff drink and read section 4.3.4 of The Oxford Style Manual (UK) and 6.33 of The Chicago Manual of Style (US).

There are rules, and many of them are there to help the author’s words convey his or her intended meaning, but equally many of those rules are made to be broken if the author knows what he or she is doing. A huge part of my job is to judge when to impose those rules and when to keep shtum.

Having raised my head above the parapet with this post, I’m now going to wrap myself in my invisibility cloak and return to working on other people’s words.

wendy_janes_author.jpgWendy Janes is a successful freelance proofreader for a range of large and small publishers and has been for over a decade. She has a Bachelor of Education degree from Goldsmiths College (London University) and a Chapterhouse qualification in proofreading and copy editing. Her own work can be found in two anthologies; A Kind of Mad Courage and Romantic Heroes , the non-fiction memoir of her grandfather The One and Sixpenny Englishman, and her full length literary fiction novel What Jennifer Knows. For her services, go to her site http://wendyproof.co.uk/testimonials/ and make certain to connect with her on Twitter, . (She in no way proofread this bio.)

I want to thank Ms. Janes for giving us an inside look into the world of a proofreader. I must say I like her method, and the length of times she takes. Give me a person that says they will turn around a book in a couple or three days, and I will give you someone I worry about.~Ronovan

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© Copyright-All rights reserved by litworldinterviews.wordpress.com 2015

What Does a Proofreader Actually Do With Your Book? by Guest Author @wendyproof

You’re considering sending the manuscript of your novel to a proofreader.

Her website is error free – that’s a good start.

She has a number of testimonials – so that’s reassuring.

You agree rates and dates, and she confirms it will take her ten to fourteen working days to return your book. You picture that happy day when, hey presto, typos will have been eliminated, inconsistencies expunged. Although you have confidence in her skills, what you’d really like to ask is: “What do you actually do with my book during those fourteen days?” You don’t want to sound like you don’t trust her, but…

So, this is a post for anyone who has ever wanted to know what a proofreader actually does with a manuscript but was afraid to ask. Of course this is only how I work, but from chatting with colleagues we all do pretty much the same, with a few slightly different incantations and flicks of the wand.

Welcome to my dining room where the magic takes place.

Day 1: As soon as an author sends me the Word document, I open the attachment on my PC to ensure that it is the author’s novel and not the email intended for Great Aunt Pam. I download and save that copy, and confirm receipt with the author.

Onscreen I look for formatting issues. I turn on “backward P” for this. Better known as the paragraph mark icon in the home menu, it allows you to view the invisible parts of a document. I look for things such as:

  • chapters set at the start of a page using carriage returns
  • unusual fonts/mix of fonts
  • mix of straight and curly (smart) quotes
  • double spaces after punctuation and between words
  • extra space before new paragraphs
  • incorrect/inconsistent use of hyphens, en and em dashes.

Over a cup of tea (and maybe a few biscuits), I email the author to clarify what I’m going to do (if anything) with these issues. I also encourage the author to allow me to make these particular changes with Word’s track changes facility turned off, otherwise the manuscript will be littered with red-lining and it will be very difficult for the author to see the detailed proofreading corrections.

So the first amendments I usually make are to simply delete multiple carriage returns and insert page breaks at the start of chapters, and alter the document to a single font (unless the story requires multiple fonts). The other agreed changes will be carried out later. I save this version of the original document with the novel’s title followed by the words “print version”.

Printing can take ages, so I usually do a bit of knitting or a crossword to keep me occupied or catch up with the Twittersphere or Facebook-land while my trusty printer does its stuff.

Day 2 to Day 4: Now the real fun starts. I proofread the printed manuscript while seated at the dining-room table, marking up any obvious errors using proofreading symbols in red pen, circling in pencil any words that may be wrong or inconsistent, and noting in pencil any factual errors or queries. I also write a list of characters as I come across them. We don’t want Edwin starting off as Elmira’s brother-in-law and ending up as her uncle – unless there have been some family shenanigans, of course. I try not to stop and research or double-check anything during this proofread because I’m aiming to pick up obvious errors and to get a good feel for the book. This results in a manuscript that is littered with my pencil scribbles.

Day 5 to Day 10: I like to let a novel rest for a day or two, and then I proofread the same hard copy again. I usually pick up a few more errors (yes, I will have missed some on the first reading) and work through my extensive pencil scribbles. I check spelling and hyphenation of words, grammar and style issues against one or more of the following reference books: the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, The Oxford Manual of Style (UK) (which, I confess, I need to update to the New Oxford Style Manual) and The Chicago Manual of Style (US). While I rely on my eyes – and a good pair of prescription lenses – to find inconsistencies, I also carry out double-checks and various searches using Word’s “find and replace” facility as back-up as well.

I write up a document with additional notes for the author. This consists of spelling, grammar and style points, including items such as:

  • a list of words I’ve amended for consistency
  • setting of numbers (eg, all numbers up to ten in words, numerals 11 onwards)
  • setting of correspondence (eg, indented) and emails (eg, in quote marks).

During this proofread I spend a lot of time dithering, trying to decide whether to intervene or not (a subject for another blog post, I think). At this point I also do my research and fact-checking (ah, another blog post beckons). This involves a lot of traipsing back and forth between dining-room table and PC – my exercise for the day.

Day 10 to Day 12: My next step is to transfer all the amendments from the hard copy to the document on my PC with track changes (TC) turned on. Then, I’ll turn track changes off and input the other amendments I agreed earlier with the author, such as:

  • amending straight to curly (smart) quotes
  • replacing double spaces with single spaces after punctuation and between words
  • deleting that pesky extra space before new paragraphs
  • replacing spaced hyphens with spaced en dashes (UK) or unspaced em dashes (US).

I’ve repeated this list because I think these types of things scream amateur if left in even the most beautiful prose. Again, Word’s “find and replace” facility is useful for some of these operations.

I name this document with the book’s title followed by “TC showing”. I put any specific questions for the author in a series of comment boxes on the document, and other general comments are added to my additional notes.

I generate a copy of the TC showing document, accept the changes, and call this document by the book’s title followed by “TC accepted”.

Day 13 to Day 14: I then compare the TC showing and the TC accepted documents side by side. This ensures that I haven’t introduced any errors with my corrections. I will admit – just between you and me – that I sometimes find a couple of last-minute boo-boos at this point, which I correct with thumping heart and dread fear that I’m not perfect. Any changes I make to the TC showing document means that I must generate another TC accepted document, which I save over the existing TC accepted document.

I send both documents, along with the additional notes, to the author. I like to send a TC accepted document so the author can see the book without all the red-lining. Both documents will display the comment boxes, which the author can deal with and delete one by one.

I encourage my authors to get back in touch with me if anything is unclear or if they have questions about the proofread. I hope this post has answered some of your questions and if it’s raised some more please get in touch via this blog or via the email address on my website.

wendy_janes_author.jpgWendy Janes is a successful freelance proofreader for a range of large and small publishers and has been for over a decade. She has a Bachelor of Education degree from Goldsmiths College (London University) and a Chapterhouse qualification in proofreading and copy editing. Her own work can be found in two anthologies; A Kind of Mad Courage and Romantic Heroes , the non-fiction memoir of her grandfather The One and Sixpenny Englishman, and her full length literary fiction novel What Jennifer Knows. For her services, go to her site http://wendyproof.co.uk/testimonials/ and make certain to connect with her on Twitter, . (She in no way proofread this bio.)

I want to thank Ms. Janes for giving us an inside look into the world of a proofreader. I must say I like her method, and the length of times she takes. Give me a person that says they will turn around a book in a couple or three days, and I will give you someone I worry about.~Ronovan

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Lit World Interview Week In Review Feb. 2-6.

lit world interview with ronovan writes

Here are the articles for the week, if you missed one, go and check it out today.

Author Interview with Ronovan Writes

Atonement, Tennessee Q&A with @TeaganGeneviene the Southern Voice.

Q&A with the Irish @aliisaac_ & @MJDougherty33 Discussing their latest collaboration.

FEATURES

The benefits of reading. The reader organisation and what are the benefits reading has for you? Olga Núñez Miret

Genre Blending Jo Robinson

Co-Writing With My Best Friend  by Guest Author Wendy Janes @wendyproof

 

BOOK REVIEWS

BOOK REVIEW OF “SILVER LIGHTNING” @AUTHORWDARLING Colleen Chesebro

 

RONOVAN’S WHATEVER

Hyphens & En Dashes & Em Dashes Oh My.

 

What can you expect next from the LWI Team?

I have two Author Interviews this week with one being from Brian D. Anderson of The Godling Chronicles fame and Wendy Anne Darling of Silver Lightning. I see THREE book Reviews coming this week one from Olga on Monday,  Colleen on Tuesday and the other from Florence on Wednesday. Jo always comes through on Thursday. Then you will suffer whatever I come up with on Friday.

So Follow us, Bookmark Us, do whatever you need to do in order to come back every day for something new.

lit world interviews

 

Hyphens & En Dashes & Em Dashes Oh My.

hyphens dashes

Let’s talk hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes.

Are you using them the correct way? Are you using the correct lengths? You are probably wondering about that second question, and we will get to it in a moment. But first let’s talk about what each one is and does. Much of what you will see is based on the AMA and CMA information. In other words, these aren’t ideas I pulled out of the air. You’ve been taught differently, then you’ve been taught differently.

Let’s take them by length order.

First to join us is the hyphen.

What does it look like?

Where do you find it? You’ll find it between the 0 and the = keys.

How do you use it?

First of all there are several names for the uses of the hyphen. I’m not going to bother filling your time with names that may not even be real or standards. I am going to give examples. Isn’t that what we want when we go looking for this information?

  • Sometimes you will use the hyphen when words are linked together to describe something. They are linked together because they are essentially one descriptive trait.
    • She is a twenty-nine-year-old college student.
    • My mother-in-law made dinner tonight.
    • The novel is forty-two chapters long.
    • A quarter is one-fourth of a whole.
    • She lives in a split-level house.
  • I think we all know about the hyphen between numbers, such as forty-one. I know, I know, we aren’t supposed to spell forty-one out but I do in my writing, and in truth you will see a lot of advice saying to do so. But writing numbers is a whole different article. For me it’s a style preference. I visually like the numbers spelled out.
  • And of course there is the hyphenated last name. Abigail Smith-Wesson.

 

Now we have the En Dash.

What does it look like?

Where do we find the En Dash? Today we are going to use the lap top. Because I use the laptop.

But first we’re going to talk about the uses of the En Dash.

How do you use it?

  • You use the En Dash for noting ranges. 1–100 is an example of a range. Also a range of time such as June–August is summer vacation for schools in the USA.
  • You might even see a sentence that has – in it. I know you are scratching your head. What you are seeing is an En Dash with a space on either side. Some people use that as an Em Dash.

 

Last and definitely not least is the Em Dash.

What does it look like?

Where do you find it on the keyboard? Good question. And no, don’t hit the hyphen a few times.

How do you use it?

  • Think of the Em Dash as an interrupter. Interrupter is my word for it here. And I mean that in a couple of different ways.
    • The most common we see in novel writing is when dialogue is interrupted. “You are a no good piece of fu—” “What were you going to say, young man?”
    • But you can also use it to insert a different thought in the middle of a sentence. I ramble a lot—I do so in my brain—and I type like I think. As long as my writing works—I don’t care what I use.
    • Some people use the Em Dash in the place of commas, colons, parenthesis, and semicolons when they want to give whatever it is that extra bit of attention. That being said: don’t over use it. If you use it all throughout your novel then it just becomes another period to the eye and ear.

One thing to keep in mind about En Dashes and Em Dashes is, be consistent. As someone reads your novel, and let’s be a positive thinker here and say novels, you are training them to know what you mean. If you use an – to be an—in one chapter then do it in the next chapter and perhaps the next book as well. I am hoping you got what I did there.

How do the three look?

– Hyphen

– En Dash

— Em Dash

 

The reason they are called En Dash and Em Dash are because how much space they take up.

N

M

 

How do they look with a word?

the-

the–

the—

 

On my laptop when I look at what I am about to tell you there is a key combination or Shortcut key to use that includes the Num key. That’s the Number Lock key. I’m not certain about all of you, but I don’t have a number pad on my laptop. And the Function to actually create a number pad doesn’t work with the key combination to create the dashes I need. So what do I do? I create a new Shortcut key. It’s pretty simple to do even though the instructions below look long. I am very detailed when I give instructions. I see no reason to skip steps. Some of these steps are going to seem like, as I like to say ‘Duh’, steps to you but there is no reason not to include them.

 

Where do you find the En Dash and the Em Dash?

I’m not sure what kind of laptop you use. But if you use Windows then this should work. What you do is:

  1. Open Word on your laptop.
  2. Click the Insert tab along the top of the screen.
  3. Look for the Symbols It’s at the far right on my bar at the top.
  4. Click Symbols.
  5. More than likely it will say ‘more symbols’.
  6. Click ‘more symbols’.
  7. You will have a pop up box appear with two tabs.
  8. Click the Special Characters
  9. You’ll see the En Dash and the Em Dash with the Shortcut key combination to get each symbol. The hyphen is what we have on the keyboards already. The En Dash is a little longer, and the Em Dash is longer than that. Now you will see there is a Shortcut key combination to use but on mine it says to use the Num My laptop doesn’t have a Num key and doing the Function that does the Number Lock doesn’t make the Dashes work. So continue on below.
  10. Select En Dash
  11. Click Shortcut Key at the bottom
  12. On the next pop up box called Customize Keyboard you will see a field where your cursor is most likely already waiting for you. That field is called Press new shortcut key.
  13. For the En Dash I chose Ctrl and the hyphen. It will look like Ctrl+- in the Shortcut key list. Then click Assign. You could use Ctrl and N.
  14. For the Em Dash I chose Ctrl, Alt hyphen. It will look like Alt+Ctrl+- in the Shortcut key list. Then click Assign. You could use Ctrl and M.

After all of that I want to show you something.

The—

The—

Looks the same, right? Not the same. The first was created by hitting the hyphen twice and then hitting enter. The second was created using my shortcut keys for the Em Dash.

If you made it this far you are probably wondering why all the bother. Using the correct punctuation is never going to hurt you. Not using it can. You don’t know what pet peeve will set off that person assigned to reading your submission has. If you can get something right, then why not get it right? There is more to this subject than what I have here. But this is a place to start. I wanted to plant the seed of getting it right and then you can grow your understanding from there, and possibly even grow mine by sharing in the comments. Other people will read this and you will help them.

 

Ron_LWI

 

 

 

 

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Co-Writing With My Best Friend by Guest Author Wendy Janes @wendyproof

I’d like to share my experience of co-writing. Partly because it’s a funny story, and partly because I hope you’ll find it interesting to find out how we did it. It might even encourage you and a friend to have a go yourselves.

A few years ago my friend and I were sitting in her conservatory chatting about whether men or women could write better love letters, and via a little too much sharing, we bemoaned the fact that any books we’d read with good sex scenes had weak stories, or if the story was good, it glossed over the sex. So we decided to write an erotic romance with great characters that people would care about, an intriguing plot, and sex scenes that would excite our avid readers.

Now, bearing in mind neither of us had written a full-length novel before, one of us was a school governor and a grandmother, and the other enjoyed craft fairs and knitting, we didn’t seem likely candidates for writing erotic fiction.

I don’t want to get into the Fifty Shades debate, but I would like to say that we had finished writing our book before we’d heard of that publishing phenomenon.

So how did two middle-aged women from South London set about co-writing their novel?

Initially my writing partner (let’s call her Pandora) went out to buy lots and lots of stationery.

We met once a week to brainstorm characters, and pretty soon we had created four women who became real people to us. Authors need to know their characters inside out, but because we were co-writing we had to share out loud everything that we knew about them. Such as Hazel’s hairstyle, what Sonia ate for breakfast, the first song Paula bought and Jacqui’s worst memory from childhood. Within weeks the four women were joined by five men. We adored drop-dead gorgeous Billy, we also adored the vile Richard, but only because we were astonished that we could create such a creep.

During this time we also bandied around oodles of ideas for plots. Our notebooks were filling up fast, but we’d not written a word of the story yet.

We plotted Chapter One (which of course never made it to the final draft) and separately wrote our own versions of it. The idea was that we’d give each other feedback on what we liked and what we didn’t and somehow magically turn them into one sparkling opening chapter. That didn’t work. Mine was too full of emotion, more like a Mills and Boon romance and Pandora’s was too spare, more like a thriller. This was not looking good, and so far we’d not written a single sex scene.

Plan B. Pandora would write Chapter One and I’d write Chapter Two and we’d edit each other’s chapters. Plan B wasn’t wholly successful either. While we both agreed that we could write a darn erotic sex scene, I have to admit I took Pandora’s edits a little too personally and things were rather cool between us for a day or two.

Plan C. Pandora was lightning quick at generating ideas, and I was better at taking her ideas and developing them. Same with the writing. So for the next few months we met once a week to plot a chapter together. Then Pandora would take an hour to write the chapter, email it to me and I’d take six hours, often more, to develop it and send it back to her. We agreed there’d be no further revision until we reached the end of this first draft.

Then came the best bit. We read each chapter of Draft 1 out loud and talked through the revisions together. It was amazing how in tune we were with the characters and the plot, often voicing the ideas that were still in the other person’s head. I will gracefully admit that Pandora came up with the best ideas, including the plot twist that had us dancing round her conservatory with glee. What also became apparent at this point was that the four women who at the outset we’d thought were nothing like us, had traits of each of us. Pandora’s vibrancy and love of life shone through in gorgeous Paula. My insecurities were writ large in naïve Sonia!

We then sent the book to friends (male and female) who gave feedback – thank goodness I didn’t crumble in the face of criticism any more – and in the light of that feedback we revised again, and again, and again. By this point we couldn’t remember who had originally written what or whose idea was whose. We were having such fun we could have tinkered with our book for ever, but we also wanted to publish it. Eventually (!) we came up with a title and published our book under a pen name. We were proud of what we’d written, but our children (Pandora’s four and my three) begged us not to use our real names.

The book didn’t take the world by storm as we’d genuinely, honestly (naively) thought it would, but we had a wonderful laughter-filled two years writing it, and we’re still best friends. The whole experience introduced me to the world of self-publishing and helped me find my own writing voice. I reckon that’s a happy ending.

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Lit World Interview Week In Review Jan 26-30.

lit world interview with ronovan writes

Here are the articles for the week, if you missed one, go and check it out today.

Author Interview with Ronovan Writes

The Judas Apocalypse & Can’t Buy Me Love Q&A @DanMcNeil888

FEATURES

Text to Speech: Editing Through Listening PS Bartlett

Authenticity and Honesty as an Indie Author Jo Robinson

Most Mortals Need a Proofreader by Guest Author Wendy Janes @wendyproof

 

BOOK REVIEWS

The Serpent Papers by Jessica Cornwell Olga Núñez Miret

RONOVAN’S WHATEVER

Patience and Integrity-The Secret to Success

LWI Who we are and what we do.

 

What can you expect next from the LWI Team?

I have an Author Interview with well at least one interview this week one will be out on Monday with Teagan Geneviene author of Atonement, Tennessee. Wednesday I have Irish authors Ali Isaac and Jane Dougherty of Grá mo Chroí‘Love of my Heart’ Love Stories from Irish Myth. I’ve read the book and my review is coming. Olga has a Feature coming out on Monday, another Feature from Guest Author Wendy Janes coming up Wednesday, and you know we will have something great from Jo Robinson on Thursday. And we have Colleen back with a Book Review on Tuesday. A full week of variety.

lit world interviews

 

Patience and Integrity-The Secret to Success

Author Integrity. This week on Lit World Interviews seems to be all about that. Whether you are an Indie or Traditionalist Author there are things we all should be doing. These days there really is only one difference between the two types of Authors and that’s who puts out your books. Some say the Publisher will do a lot more for you so you don’t have to, but that’s not always the case and it costs you.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against signing with a Publisher. I want to sign with one someday. But I do know that to be successful you need to be all in your own business and not simply sit back and let everyone else be all up in it.

This week you’ve seen a relatively new way of editing from Author PS Bartlett with her article Text to Speech: Editing Through Listening, Proofreading problems from Author and Proofreader Wendy Janes with Most Mortals Need a Proofreader. And rounding out with Author Jo Robinson our resident Self-Publishing guru and her article Authenticity and Honesty as an Indie Author.

I feel each article is linked in that each points to creating something and representing something that is professionally done. Integrity is the word that finally came to mind after reading Jo’s article. Through every draft you write, every proofreading, and every promotional idea you happen to come up with or is created for you, keep integrity in mind.

There are Authors out there that are popular and have great sales numbers. I don’t read them because I don’t trust them and their integrity is non existent in my eyes. That’s right, I look at an author and their product just like I do a person such as an actress. I am asked “Don’t you think she is so hot?” 9 times out of 10 the person they are talking about has the personality of a cross between Bill O’Reilly and Rosie O’Donnell. It doesn’t matter if you have all the physical characteristics of ‘hot’, if your personality is repulsive then you are repulsive as well.

If I look at your books and your promotions and see a lack of professional polish then I begin to think you simply rushed through a writing of it and threw it out there, and you are promoting it with fake gloss to trick people into buying what could have been a great story if you had just had the patience to go through as many drafts, proofreadings, and edits as was necessary to get that best work possible.

patience-integrity

Patience and Integrity in the world of the Author go hand in hand. Don’t rush the love of your life out into the world of Amazon or wherever you publish. Let that love mature and grow and go shopping to look its best. This is a coming out party and it only gets one shot at it.

 

Ron_LWI

 

 

 

 

@RonovanWrites
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Most Mortals Need a Proofreader by Guest Author Wendy Janes @wendyproof

Why can’t you successfully proofread your own work?

It’s very simple – you read what you expect to see.

When you read other people’s work it’s fresh and new. Any errors seem to leap from the page, as the following examples demonstrate:

“Perdita was so angry she felt like throwing the laptop out of the the attic window.”

“Mark was fifty-five minutes younger that Spencer. An injustice than irritated him no end.”

The errors in the above sentences look so obvious. However, when you’ve been working on your book for months, maybe longer, and you’ve re-worked, revised, edited, tweaked, fallen in and out of love with it more times than you can remember, it’s almost impossible to gain the professional distance that is required to proofread it effectively. This is no reflection on your skills as a writer.

I’d like to share my own (humbling) experience. You see, I’d been telling people for years that it was unwise to proofread their own work, but to be honest I didn’t believe it would be true for me. I’d been proofreading for over a decade, I knew what to look for. So when I co-wrote an erotic romance with a friend a few years ago (that’s another humbling story) and we sent the book to our proofreader, I was confident that she wouldn’t find anything to correct.

Let’s pause, while you chuckle, because you know what’s coming.

When the proof copy was returned to us, I was MORTIFIED.

Yes, it deserves capital letters.

Characters who were as dear to me as my own family had their names spelled inconsistently, missing quote marks made a nonsense of dialogue, and there were typos galore.

Nothing like first-hand experience to teach you (ie me) a lesson!

And now, to make me feel a bit better and to entertain you, I’d like to share a few of my favourite bloopers of recent years (I’ve used artistic licence to ensure that no author can be identified):

“Maddy checked that her trouser suit was free of creases before she walked into the interview room. She shook hands with the CEO and felt the waist band of her skirt tighten alarmingly as she took the seat he offered.”

“A warrior through and through, Mardor fought on, the blood dripping from his severed arm. Around him, his soldiers spilled their blood for the victory that was destined to be theirs. Mardor gripped his sword with both hands and brought it down…”

“Maria shook the last painkiller from the bottle and swallowed the table with a gulp of water.”

“Discretion is the better part of velour.”

“This was the last pubic lecture he’d ever give. His nerves were too bad to ever consider doing anything so embarrassing ever again.”

I hope you enjoyed those bloopers as much as I did.

I’d like to add a practical coda to this post:

If you want to self-publish, but you can’t afford a proofreader I encourage you either to save up or to consider some old-fashioned bartering. For example, swapping proofreads with another author, or offering your website design skills to a proofreader. Or you could try a micro-version of the approach used by an innovative publisher called Booktrope, where you offer a proofreader a share of the income from your book.

 

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Lit World Interview Week In Review Jan 19-23.

lit world interview with ronovan writes

A very good week here for Lit World Interviews. I believe our focus on quality over quantity is showing.  Our two feature articles this week by Jo Robinson and Guest Author Wendy Janes struck a chord with our Readers and the feedback has been tremendous. Our Book Review Team continues to be strong as well with Olga Núñez Miret. I personally was thrilled to interview Anne JohnstonBrown. 

Here are the articles for the week, if you missed one, go and check it out today.

Author Interview with Ronovan Writes

Singer, Actress, Teacher and Author Anne JohnstonBrown Q&A @AJohnstonbrown

FEATURES

Advertising Your Book Jo Robinson

Is My Novel Ready for Proofreading? by Guest Author Wendy Janes @wendyproof

BOOK REVIEWS

Interconnected by Mary Meddlemore/Martie Preller Olga Núñez Miret

RONOVAN’S WHATEVER

State of the LWI Address

 

What can you expect next from the LWI Team?

I have an Author Interview with Dan McNeil of The Judas Apocalypse and Can’t Buy me Love on Monday. I know we have another Feature from Guest Author Wendy Janes coming up Wednesday.  And you know we will have something great from Jo Robinson on Thursday.

dan-mcneil-author

 

Is My Novel Ready for Proofreading? by Guest Author Wendy Janes @wendyproof

Is My Novel Ready for Proofreading?

I love my job as a freelance proofreader, but sometimes authors make it very difficult for me to do my job effectively.

However brilliant your writing, however delicious your story, if there are too many errors and inconsistencies, you are asking too much of your proofreader to spot everything.

Here are a few examples of things that should have been removed by the author/developmental editor/copy editor prior to proofreading. Just in case you’re wondering, they are all products of my fevered imagination:

  • A tear-jerking family saga opens with Davina playing with her five-year-old brother, Oliver, on the sprawling lawns of their darling papa’s country estate. When our feisty heroine rescues sweet young Oliver from his evil kidnappers two years later, he is ten years old. The hapless Oliver dies in a fire soon after his rescue, and (miraculously) reappears at Davina’s sumptuous wedding to Henrico a decade later.
  • In the opening scene of a delightful chick lit novella, independent career girl Polly totters off to meet hunky Blake wearing a pair of Jimmy Chew’s. She jumps off a Central Line tube train at Sloane Square. (Tricky in those dubious heels and even more tricky because Sloane Square isn’t on the Central Line.)
  • In a sci-fi/fantasy, the leader of the Heliopians may well fight with grit and determination throughout the thrilling spat with the Lunopians, but his name changes from Garvord to Gurvord and back again in the space of ten pages.

I have to be honest and say that it gives me great joy to catch these types of errors, but when a novel is littered with them it makes finding the typos, which are the bread and butter of proofreading, all the more difficult. Not only that but if your proofreader is charging you by the hour, you are in effect bumping up the cost.

While it is the proofreader’s role to spot and correct errors and inconsistencies, there are number of things you can do to avoid your manuscript being inundated with them:

  1. Choose whether you’re using US or UK (or insert your choice here) spelling and punctuation. If you’re going for a hybrid, then be clear about your choices.
  2. Punctuate speech correctly.
  3. Check that spelling and hyphenation are consistent.
  4. Use hyphens, en dashes and em dashes correctly, and delete double spaces between words and after punctuation.
  5. Look for over-used words such as “that”, “just” (my own pet over-used word), “only”, “really”, “very” etc. Actually this isn’t something that every proofreader will automatically look for, but eliminating over-used words will improve your writing no end.

If a proofreader has been searching through a whole novel for “ise” endings in order to turn them into “ize” endings, he or she may miss all the unfortunate slips in the following: “Davina realized he loved Henrico wit all here hat.” If a proofreader needs to correct every single comma and full stop in order to punctuate speech correctly, there’s a good chance he or she could skip over that missing open quote at the start of Garvord’s battle cry.

I can’t say this enough, so I’ll repeat myself. However good your proofreader is, he or she won’t be able to pick up every single error if there are too many of them. It’s a bit like looking for a letter on a messy desk. You can’t see it for all the other pieces of paper, chocolate bar wrappers, pens, pencils, coffee cups and cake crumbs. If you sweep away the crumbs, put the cups in the kitchen and the wrappers in the bin, there’s a better chance of finding the letter.

You may be thinking, what on earth is a proofreader left to do if I make all these corrections before I send my manuscript off? The truth is that most mortals, even if they do all of the above, still need to have their book proofread by a professional. My next guest post will be about why it’s so difficult to proofread your own work, and will include some of my favourite bloopers (all made anonymous to spare authors’ blushes).

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Get services from an expert. Shannon A. Thompson Author Services. @ShanAshleeT23

Shannon A. Thompson, yes the lady I’ve interviewed. The lady who has been published and worked in publishing has HER SERVICES AVAILABLE TO YOU! What kind? More than the image below states. Click the pic and check her site out.

shannon a thompson author services

@ShanAshleeT23

REBLOG and Share on Twitter, Facebook & Everywhere you Social Media. 🙂

(I bet she would proof that and edit it like mad.)