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Proofreading a Book: The Most Stressful Relationship and Saddest Breakup

Proofreading a Book

Proofreading a Book: The Most Stressful Relationship and Saddest Breakup

I’m not religious.  But I can honestly say there was a higher power with me while proofreading my recent novella.  I worked long hours to write the manuscript for Partners in Crime, but even longer hours to edit it.  And the number of peanut butter snacks I ate while writing should be a crime.  Every sentence, paragraph, and chapter tested my patience to the max.  I had fun writing the story, and I’m proud of the results, but arggh!


Quality Proofreading and Publishing Will Test Your Patience

Patience is a virtue.  But apparently, it’s not my virtue.  While proofreading my book, I threw things, chewed most of my fingernails off, learned a new vocabulary of cuss words, and almost gave up on it twice.

So, why did I endure such a stressful relationship for one manuscript?  One reason:  Publishing.  I pushed through the editing phase so my manuscript can sit on a publisher’s desk for the next 12 weeks, awaiting its next editing process.  That’s right.  I proofread my manuscript countless times just so someone else could too.  

Publishers proofread and scrutinize a story down to its deepest parts.  They cut and chop dialogue and scenes I worked on for days in half, or delete them altogether.  Even if my story sounded fine without editing, fine is not great.  And only great stories sell.  It’s that simple.


>>Choose a Traditional Publisher over Self-Publishing <<


Hurry up and wait.  Isn’t that the beauty of writing?  Write a story, then wait, and hope someone else finds it just as appealing as you did while writing it.  But that’s not always the case, is it?  Sometimes, it takes a little more work to create something worth appreciating and is marketable.


Writing the Story is the Easy Part

Even if you’ve never written anything before, it’s easy to start.  Write every day, about anything and everything.  You will get better over time.  Perhaps good enough to find a publisher.

Show don’t tell – is a common piece of advice given by publishers.  Publishers don’t want to know who and what as much as they want to know how.  How does the sky and the trees make the character feel on a stormy day?  How does the hero of the story save the girl?  By proofreading, a writer draws their reader into the scenes.  The reader builds a relationship with the characters and invests their own emotions into the story.

But I think there’s an important step in between writing and publishing, which a lot of writers skimp on and rush through:  proofreading.   As a writer, I know how easy it is to say, “That’s good enough”, but quality proofreading will take time.  If it doesn’t, it’s probably not quality.


Proofreading is Just as Important as Writing the Story

Like any relationship, proofreading and I have had our difficulties.  After spending so much time with my story prior to editing, we already had a love/hate relationship with each other.  Once I reached the proofing stage, I didn’t want to see or think about the story ever again. 

But I had to learn patience.  I didn’t want to rush through after I just spent over three months of my life developing a relationship with my characters, the plot, and story.  If I want the next person reading my story to fall in love with it just like I did while writing it, I needed to slow down.  I needed to give it TLC and the attention it deserved. 

Proofreading is the most rewarding relationship you can have with your story.



Publishing is the Best Ending to a Bad Breakup

Once I finally submitted my manuscript to a publisher, it kind of felt like a break up.  A very violent breakup.  I killed a lot of the words and sentences during proofreading.  But I guess we needed some time apart. 

I’m being honest.  It was a little sad.  My fictional crush vanished, and I had to find a new lover.  On to the next story, and on to building my new obsession – one word at a time.   

But if you want to know loyalty (and obsession), fall in love with a character in a story.  Or, better yet, write a story, and create your next fictional crush yourself. 

It is hard to say goodbye to all the words, sentences and paragraphs you’ve fallen in love with.  But try to nix the words and phrases you don’t need.  Because after publishing, you can rekindle your relationship  by starting your writing adventure all over again.  


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D. M. Stephenson

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