The stories you
see on my site go through a long and complicated process before they
are posted. As an example, I'll explain what happens to a typical
chapter. First, I write it, and then I go back and rework parts,
polishing wording, trimming extraneous text, and verifying details.
During this process, I keep an eye out for typos, grammatical
satisfied, I then run Word's spelling and grammar checker. I'd never
trust its recommendations absolutely, but it routinely catches three
or four things I've missed in a chapter. One thing it does not catch
is look-alike words. I'm dyslexic, so I have a great deal of trouble
spotting word substitutions such as typing "out" when I mean "our".
I also have trouble proofreading my own work; I see what I think I
meant, not what is there.
So, once the
final spelling and grammar check is complete, I give the chapter a
final once-over. It is not done, far from it. It is, at this point,
just a draft. I then take a deep breath, cross my fingers, and send
it off for beta reading to Graeme and Talonrider. During beta
reading, the beta reader will, using Word's edit mode (or similar,
depending on their software), make comments on whatever they feel.
This is often a comment that a character is acting out of character,
or pointing out a possible plot flaw, or tweaking the wording, or
correcting a typo. Once I have the chapter back, I then do a merge
of the two copies, and at that point send it off to Captain Rick.
Once I get the
chapter back from beta, I go through each and every comment and
edit. In many cases, my reaction to the comment goes far beyond the
comment itself. As an example, in one case Graeme highlighted where
I'd used the same word twice in a paragraph (word repetition is a
pet hate of both Graeme and myself). While fixing my wording, it got
me to thinking about the scene, and I ended up adding a few
paragraphs which, in my opinion, improved it. In other words, beta
readers help in two very big ways; what they do, and also by causing
me to have a second think-through of the chapter or scene. Once
every edit and comment has been dealt with, and I've given the
chapter another run-through with Word's spelling and grammar
checker, I then send it off to EMoe for editing.
different from beta reading in many ways. It is far more detailed
and thorough regarding grammar and spelling, but it also focuses on
flow and stylistic aspects. For example, EMoe often smoothes out an
awkward sentence or paragraph, and keeps an eye out for everything
from plot consistency to, well, everything.
When I get the
edited chapter back from EMoe, I go through each and every edit.
Sometimes, as in beta, I make changes far beyond what Emoe has done,
because seeing the edit can give me ideas.
chapter is ready to send to zeta-reading. That's Bondwriter's
department. He checks for anything, such as remaining typos,
misspellings, and punctuation errors.
That's just a
general overview of the differences between beta readers, editors,
and zeta readers. However, that's just an approximation of their
most usual actions. There are always exceptions, because each and
every member of the team can weigh in on any aspect they feel like.
Sometimes the sequence changes, due to me being late (an all too
common occurrence.) Also, not every member of the team weighs in on
every chapter, it varies, but the end result is always the same:
what gets posted is very much the result of a team effort.
chapter is back from zeta-reading, I give it one more read, then
it's time to format it into an HTML page for posting. Once itís
posted, that's still not the end. Every once in a while, a mistake
slips through, and a reader will point it out (receiving my profound
thanks for doing so) and the typo will be corrected, even long after
I try to learn
from my team. Each and every one of them has taught me a great deal,
often in different areas. As an illustration of this, let me mention
my filing system. On my hard drive, each story has its own
directory, with the story name as the directory name. I use the main
directory to write my drafts as well as store the outline, character
sheets, technical references, etc. There are subdirectories, one
named for each member of the team. Each of those directories has a
single subdirectory called "Processed". When I receive a chapter
from a team member, what they send goes into the directory with
their name on it. Before I make any changes, I copy it into
"processed" and that's where I work on their edits and comments. In
this way, I keep a copy of what they send. I often look back on
these old chapter comments and edits when I am unsure of something
(for example, an editing or character issue).
Do I make a big
deal about my team? You're darn right I do. Let's face it; online
stories generate fanmail, forum comments, and acclaim. Now, who do
you suppose gets said fanmail, etc? It's not the editor, betas, or
zetas. It's the author. None of us are getting paid for this, but
the author gets the lion's share of the credit and fanmail; the fun.
Personally, I consider that unfair in the extreme, because writing
is a team effort, and therefore the team should share in the
At the bottom
of each and every chapter, there is a block of text that means a lot
to me; the chapter credits. On my site, each of these is its own
individual block of text, not a PHP include or boilerplate. I did
this intentionally when I designed the site; it allows me to change
the credits of each chapter. In this way, I can thank a person for a
chapter or two for advice, or for pointing out a typo.
There is one
line in the chapter credits, however, that never changes. "Any remaining errors are mine alone."
Although the writing is very
much a team effort, as the author I'm in effect the manager of the
team. I'm the one who decides if something is in or out, and I
decide when a chapter is ready to post. Therefore, as Harry Truman's
famous desk sign says, "The buck stops here." While I
freely accept any and all criticism (I try to learn from it), the
one thing upon which I will not compromise is that line in the
credits: "Any remaining
errors are mine alone." That's non-negotiable, because it happens to be true.
(Sincere thanks to MikeL for
fixing my typos!)
Their pictures link
to their G.A. PM boxes.
(EMoe57) Editor Extraordinaire, who also talked me
through my first tentative attempts at writing.
Beta reader and mentor, who can see what I cannot, and has
taught me so much.
Bondwriter. He amazes me. English is not his first language,
yet his command of the convoluted rules of English grammar are
phenomenal. He has the keenest eye for catching the most
subtle of errors, with a skill that would be considered
amazing if English was his first language. Yet, it is not
(French is his mother tongue, and one of several languages
that he speaks).
Jan is an editor, but honored and
surprised me by signing on as a beta reader. He's great fun to
work with, and a true pro.
is our first amphibian! He's a beta
reader, and has great insights and comments, helping me make
sure the reader sees what I want them to see. He also makes sure that there are no cliffhangers
in the chapters. Therefore, if you think you see a
cliffhanger, we can all blame Mike for it! ;-) Welcome aboard, Your Amphibiousness!
Red a self-described aging part time yachtsman who has joined
us as a beta reader. His advice and insights have proven
invaluable. Welcome aboard, Red!
Me. The guy who flails away aimlessly on a keyboard, giving
the guys above so much work to do.