Word choices

I started my proofing pass yesterday and nope. Two chapters in, I went back to copy-editing.

What’s the difference, you ask? (Okay, I imagine you asking.) When I’m copy-editing, I’ll make substantive changes. I’ll decide that an entire paragraph is unnecessary or that sentences need tightening. I’ll reword phrases that seem awkward. I’ll make global decisions about word choices. I’ll do dialog passes where I look at the word choices of an individual character and make sure that all my characters don’t sound the same.

A proofing pass, on the other hand, is for minor errors. Misplaced commas, extra spaces, spelling errors. I proof by reading aloud. It’s time-consuming and hard on the voice and when I’m done, I want the changes to be so small that I don’t feel like I have to do it again. If I make any change larger than a single letter, I’m likely to re-read the whole chapter with the change aloud again, in order to make sure that my change doesn’t cause a ripple effect with repetitions or logical issues.

So yesterday I started reading aloud and within the first two chapters, I’d already made about twenty changes, including some that were major (deleting entire paragraphs that bored me) and some that were global. Gray vs grey, anyone?

Today, therefore, it’s back to copy-editing. My goal: to finish one solid pass, make some more big changes, and maybe manage to get in a couple of hours of reading aloud before bedtime. I suspect it’s going to be another long, long day.

Some of yesterday’s catches:

“kind of” vs “sort of” vs “type of”. They really don’t all mean the same thing.

The aforementioned “gray” vs “grey”. One’s American, one belongs to the rest of the English-speaking world. Which to use?

“A little” — 94 times! I used “a little” 94 times. I’m down to 34 today and I think I can probably live with that. And it’s definitely added to my stylesheet to check on in future books.

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