Editors, start your engines!

I’m tearing into the Player’s Handbook finally. I thought I’d share a bit of my technique. I don’t know if I’m doing anything unusual here (or wrong) but it works for me.

I obviously try and keep things error free and consistent while I’m writing but that’s never enough to get it right. It is important though to do a healthy amount of error checking as early on as possible. Without worrying about quality, editing later would be a nightmare.

Stat blocks are usually my downfall. Along with importing old text, I hate having to re-write, and I should just get over it. Stat blocks need exacting consistency and vehicles are really huge stat blocks so you can guess where a lot of my errors are. I usually copy one stat block and then modify the contents, but that introduces the problem of having fields that look like they’ve already been filled in, when it’s really old data. Things like prices, or the mass of an object can get overlooked.

For some reason, with me, having a printed book in front of me is better than looking at a book on my iPad a thousand times. I read with more clarity on dead tree and marking up a page is easier than any pdf editor I’ve seen. For short documents in the 20-40 page range, I print out the book, usually with two pages to a sheet of paper and make a booklet by folding the pages in half. For longer works, I’ve used lulu.com in the past to print out the book. I’m moving to Amazon Createspace, but they’re less forgiving and more of a hassle to deal with. There are more hoops to jump through. That’s good for a finished product, but I’m looking for a quick and dirty mock up.

Once I have my dead tree version in hand, I use a red pen or marker to start noting any errors I see. I’ve used blue or black, but it’s easier to lose notes made in more mundane colors. Especially when I’m noting that I missed a space. Red, almost universally stands out more.

Most of my notes are simple. If something is out of place, I’ll use an arrow to point to where it should be. If something is incorrect, like a number, or spelling it gets circled. In most cases, I remember what was wrong just looking at the circled item. In some I forget why I circled it, but after examination I can figure it out. Other times I need to write an actual note to myself about what I want to do with an edit. One of my common notes is “awk” as in awkward. After reading a sentence or a whole paragraph, it doesn’t convey the thought clearly or concisely. It’s awkwardly worded. This note usually requires that I throw the current paragraph out and start over, it’s not retrievable. A fresh take is the only thing that’s going to unstick my brain.

There are of course lots of simple notes, like adding an “s” or an “ing” to the end of a word, usually because the spellchecker didn’t like the suffix and dropped it. I know that I was up late writing when I see that I okayed the change. Write it in red after the word an move on.

So once I’m done with my edits, I go into the digital file and start making the changes I indicated. When I make the change, I write the date next to my edit. This lets me know that I actually fixed the problem and when.

I’ll usually go through the book again afterwards to make sure I didn’t miss any edits and that I still agree with them. If I find that I’ve missed some, I repeat the process over again, until my check runs clean.

Then the book is ready for prime time. (I hope.)

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