Editing. Yes, it is not the Camp NaNoWriMo round-up, for the simple reason I’m not doing Camp NaNo, although I did in April, when I wrote the current project. I’ve given it up in favour of self-discipline! Although, since we’ve had either loads of rain or a ghastly heatwave all this month, it’s been an easy choice to sit at the computer and work.

Camp nanowrimo reflections

Editing Zanzibar’s Rings

Editing a scifi book has some special elements you probably don’t get in most other book types. Then again, you also get many that apply to all.

They are all self-inflicted.

  • Technology issues

Although to a great extent, scifi writers can make up their own science and technology, it has to be logical. Orichalcum, the main thing of value in my books, is not real. The value in it is because it eliminates limitations of lightspeed in communications. Instant communication, anywhere in the galaxy. And then it goes wrong. That’ll be in the blurb, so it’s not a spoiler!

So I fell back on the use of radio as a communications device. Fortunately my brother knows a lot about radio. What I know about it comes from basic physics plus listening to him on his ham radio. When I was a kid, because his set-up was in the loft, I listened while I fell asleep. I described this to my niece (his daughter); she laughed when I did his call-sign in Morse code–she can do exactly the same!

So before I could go further than normal editing, improving words, etc, I needed to talk to my brother about what I was doing with radio. It was a great conversation. It turns out there are some very strange things going on with radio signals sent in the past. We don’t know everything we thought we did about radio communication! I might use that in a future book–or flash fiction.

Once I’d done that, I could really sort out some of the plot holes I thought I’d got. Turned out I’d got enough of the basics right for most of my technology things to work.

  • Timing and order

I really needed to go through and work out exactly when some of my events in this book happened.

This is much easier if you don’t have two places far apart on a planet which is smaller than Earth. You don’t know how long it takes to fly from one to the other. Once I’d worked that out…

Flying from one planet to another via a third in a planetary system where everything is orbiting at different rates…. It is just like the solar system but different, in that my spacecraft fly faster than SpaceX and its cohort. But there are four types of craft doing this, each at a different top speed.

So basically, I could make them go as fast as I needed. Until I discovered I was a whole day out of time between one event and another.

I went for a walk. This is always useful to sort out problems like this. I decided to make them change course to avoid being seen; it would then take them a lot longer. How long? As long as I needed them to take!

Once I’d sorted out the time tags, it seemed logical to put them into time order. Would that be easier for the reader? Or do the scenes work better if they relate to events rather than the actual time (which might be delayed)?

  • People doing different things at the same time

Amazing what you find you’ve got people doing at the same time as themselves… I discovered someone had gone home with one person, and gone home with another person half an hour later! She now goes home with both at the same time.

Actually, most of the logical stuff worked well.

So I now believe the version I’m working on is well-ordered, logical, has no actual plot-holes left, and the story flows.

zanzibar's rings draft cover
draft cover

Pre-beta detail

Last Sunday I started doing the read-through out loud.

Well, I searched the ‘accessibility’ features on my Mac and found ‘Daniel’ to read me bits I highlighted for him.

He’s a bit odd with his phrasing, but he reads every word, and sometimes I discover I missed a word to give him (and have already found some extra or doubled words). More often he finishes something and starts again very quickly, which nearly always means I need to add a paragraph. Basically I think he confuses commas and fullstops.

The funniest things are his pronunciations and interpretations:

  • spasserpoat for spaceport, and spasser- for many space- words but some he finds perfectly normal
  • Number. for No.
  • Kaa (name of Lars’ father) he says as K-a-a. Did nobody teach him Jungle book?
  • AI (in caps) is ‘aie’ and my abbreviation VS for Viridian System is ‘versus’, but other double caps e.g. SS are said as double caps.
  • And he runs on the ends of speech with question marks or exclamation marks straight into whatever follows, which can be hilarious

I can’t listen to more than a couple of thousand words at a time, so this is going to keep me going for a while; probably till the end of the Olympics.

Then I’ll do a check for all my over-used words, and filter words (which I think I’ve mostly spotted already), after which …

… it should be ready for my beta readers.

Beta Readers wanted

I have lost a couple of beta readers. If anyone would like to join the team, please let me know in the comments and I’ll email you.

And why not snag the first two in the Viridian series between today and Saturday night at smashwords, since they are going ridiculously cheap (99c for the pair unless I’ve changed it since yesterday).

perihelix trio

Editing update: Not the Camp Nano Round-up #amediting

6 thoughts on “Editing update: Not the Camp Nano Round-up #amediting

  • 28 July, 2021 at 1:56 pm

    I don’t know about you but I hate editing and the fact I can read something over out loud several times and STILL not see the error. Best of luck with finding everything!

  • 28 July, 2021 at 6:54 pm

    It is actually easier to hear something read by the computer. Finding loads of things I couldn’t see myself 🙂

  • 29 July, 2021 at 4:19 am

    I do need to try having the computer read to me. I normally just read it aloud myself.

    Looking forward to the beta read!

    • 29 July, 2021 at 1:04 pm

      I find it easier to spot missing words when the reader skips them. But I’m getting very tired of his end-of-sentence skips, especially with some words which he practically swallows. Strange pronunciations too. Prop-erly. Several words like ‘irrefutable’ he just doesnt know!

      • 1 August, 2021 at 1:39 pm

        Actually, I’d mistyped irrefutable, so I’ll let him off!
        For the record: checking my favourite words I reduced ‘look’ from 267 to 89, and ‘think’ from over 300 to 115. (Then I had to check the subsitutes and work harder on ‘seem’ – 97 to 49). And in doing all that, I took nearly 400 words off the total wordcount!

  • Pingback:#IWSG August 2020 | Writing Craft ~ Jemima Pett

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