Kathleen Kent: On Being Copyedited

For some writers the copyediting process may be tedious and emotionally draining.  A manuscript that has been researched, worked and reworked for years is something that is filled with emotional connections.

For me, the copyediting process has been a reassuring one.  I’ve had the good fortune to work with the same copy editor twice, and the corrections and questions from her have given me a chance to rethink some of the details; the gaps or disconnects in a character’s actions or reactions, inconsistencies in dates, names and places, or just plain awkward language and grammar.  Fortunately, I haven’t had too many “howlers”—the big mistakes in plot that would mean a major overhaul in the narrative.

During the period of time that the copy editor has the manuscript, I try to put the story and characters completely out of my head.  I indulge in reading the books that I’ve really wanted to explore during the weeks and months I’ve spent researching the book in progress.  In fact, the farther the reading material is from the tone, time and place of my own novel, the better.

Before I incorporate any of the copy editor’s changes, I read once through the entire manuscript.  Then I go line by line, weighing the suggested changes with my original text.  Most often, the suggested copyedits have strengthened the pertinent passages in the particular and, by extension, the work as a whole.   I’ve heard a few writers say that this is the most difficult part of their completing a book.  For me, it’s been one of the least stressful.

What has kept the final editing process from becoming too tedious has been to keep in mind the initial excitement of formulating the plot and the characters.   In the case of The Wolves of Andover, it was remembering visiting Wales for the first time; the birthplace of my main character, Thomas Carrier, who was also my grandfather back nine generations.

The Big Picture: The photograph was taken at Snowdonia National Park in Wales.—Kathleen Kent

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