Page Proofs Done

Posted: September 19th, 2009 under the writing life.
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Page proofs are the stage of proofing where you realize what you should have done in revisions (but didn’t), and copy edits (ditto.)    And you can’t make big changes in page proofs.  Well, not without arousing the fury of everyone involved, anyway.

But there are compensations.

Such as, for instance, finding out that the first Character X viewpoint chapter of book two has a very large continuity error in it because–despite having looked at the last chapter of book one–also the last Character X viewpoint chapter in that book– on the computer repeatedly to get it right–you glanced right over the relevant detail.   Book two, not yet being in proofs, can be changed.

I read better on paper than I do onscreen.  Or, I read some things better on paper than on screen.    Because despite finding that problem, which you would not have noticed in this book anyway,  and about 20 others ranging from capitalization errors to run-on paragraphs, to missing letters within a word, it took multiple checks through the  page proofs to find what I hope (!) were all of them…24 individual pages on which one to three errors of the type page proofs are meant to catch existed.

One of the reasons that tiddly errors (a capital letter in the middle of a word, for instance, or a missing comma) are hard to find in page proofs is that the pages look like real book pages, and thus–despite stern warnings to self–it’s all too easy to slip into story-reading mode, not editing mode.   When I’m in story-reading mode, I’m on auto-correct for most typographical errors.   I want the story–what sticks out are continuity errors (“…but wait–didn’t James die in the last chapter?  Is  this another James?”)  and logic errors (“I don’t believe for a moment that Alex would hide in the closet when he could have gotten out the door in plenty of time…”)   A missing /s/ in “was” will be supplied by my auto-correct function and I won’t even slow down.

OTOH, being caught by a story that you wrote, and that you know very well, does indicate that the story is bristling with reader-hooks.   It’s a bad sign when you read page proofs and it’s not even hard to keep your mind in edit-mode.  That didn’t happen (hurray) and I kept being dragged into the story even though I know what happens next.

Having to write the books in sequence reminds me how different it was to write the original Paks books…there, I had time to finish the whole story–let it grow however it would–and then deal with any “oops, that didn’t happen” or  “wow, this is neat and really fits but I need to go back and put in the background” stuff before anyone saw it.    This time around I have to be mindful even as the plot-bombs burst around me that anything in the book I’m working on has to fit what’s already in production and has implications for the next one in line.    This will probably (as my choir director said about singing difficult music) help prevent Alzheimer’s.

I finished last night (more for time constraints than anything else–I have travel and speeches coming up, a deadline for getting the proofs back, other work that must be done,  and thus no time to go through them again.)   What errors I missed, if I missed any, will still be there.    So this morning’s revision work on book two starts with fixing the continuity glitch from the end of book one.    You’ll never know it happened.  You won’t know which detail was wrong.    (Er…except you alpha readers.  If you happen to have stuck that particular detail in your memory.)

Today bristles with chores: mail off the page proofs,  grocery shopping, make up the breakfast cereal mix (which requires going to the store for provisions for same), do critical pre-trip shopping (for the trip tomorrow, to a university 100+ miles away, and for the big trip the following week), laundry, baking, and (in between all this) revisions.  Not There Yet with revisions.

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