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Mekton Zero Dev Notes Volume 3: On Editing

Editing the book: many people think it’s all done in an instant. But editing is one of those games that takes a lot of time.

A Pass, A Pass, And Another Pass…

You start by printing out the entire book, because editing in layout just doesn’t work. You miss too much. You also miss physical layout issues like widows, orphans, and strange artifacts of the text. Things can try to sneak by for layout like missing page elements, changes in typefaces, strange rendering elements… And you must print the ENTIRE book, not sections, because things that go wrong in one section often affect another section. That’s how we ended up with two different ways of spelling a Cyberpunk character, for example. Being throrough; it’s how you catch the infamous “page XX” placeholder error that has shown up in so many books (ask White Wolf about this one sometime).

And you can’t rely on automatic spellcheckers either. For example, the spellcheckers missed the difference between widows and windows, which is what I originally wrote in the paragraph above.  That kind of spell-checking requires a human—in this case, Cody, who read the line and said, “Windows and orphans? Is that a new typographic error I missed somehow?”

The Eyes Have It…

Now it’s ready to go to Fran The Editor. But actually, you don’t just send it to Fran The Editor. You get several other people to read it first. Some of them are reading for comprehension. Others read it for rules issues. Some are just plain novices who you want to read the book so you know if it makes sense to someone who hasn’t been looking at the thing for months. So, the final set of corrections involve actually 2 to 5 readers before it even gets to Fran who then reads all the corrections and suggestions before drafting her final decision on edits.

Finally, The Big Guns…

Fran The Editor starts to edit. This can take a long time, as she must be exacting. One reason Fran is The Editor is that years ago, she emailed me with a huge list of errors in a published book that the original editor had missed.  That got her the job. But she spotted all those errors because Fran is careful. And takes her time. As much as it takes to get it right. Only when she goes through it a dozen times does she mark it as done.

Then the manuscript goes back to the layout crew for correcting. Which is also harder than it sounds. Since editing usually includes bad grammar, strange sentences, etc., you have to rewrite entire passages sometimes. Which need to be checked for correcting too.  These changes also alter the layout. I’ve had books that added entire pages thanks to editing rewrites. And extra pages need to be rearranged so that the book ends up with a proper page count or it will cost an arm and a leg to finally print.

Yep, Still Editing…

Once you make the corrections from Fran, you submit the book for a second pass. We rerun the book. Now Fran looks for everything we missed the last time. She marks up the second draft. We make the changes. Then, if it’s a licensed product like Witcher, we send the final edit to CDPR. Who makes their own notes. Then back to Fran for a final, final pass.

When we say, “It’s in editing.”, there are a ton of steps we just don’t bother to tell you. Because they’re boring. But believe me, you’ll be glad we took the time to do them all.

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