Monday 28 January 2019

The Track Changes Edit

“Track changes” is at once a great tool but can be a somewhat cumbersome tool. I use it in two ways. I find it worth the perseverance.  

Track changes for first / second edit   

The second edit is after major changes have been made to the structure of the story. Some work may have been done on character and setting as well. This edit often does not take place for stories that appear in our mixed author anthologies: we wouldn’t select the story if it had faults like this.

So, for edit 1 in individual short stories, or edit 2 in single author collections or Red Telephone novels I use the Comments function within the Track Changes function. This highlights a bit of text and puts a comment in the margin. I ask writers to leave the comment there and perhaps add their own. They can also add further comments elsewhere in the text.

Of course one could just add comments in a different coloured text but there are two disadvantages:
1.      It’s quite difficult to position the comment
2.      You lose the function of seeing who made which comment

We’re commenting here mainly on such things as is the dialogue consistent? Is the writer showing not telling? Is there some awkward expression?  

Track changes in second / third edit

By this time the writer has reacted to the editor’s comments and maybe made some alterations. The editor has also reacted to any comments the writer has made. We now have a text that is mainly acceptable to both parties.

We now use the full function of Track Changes but work with it not showing the changes and urge writers to read not allowing the mark-up to show. A marked up text is very confusing and I personally find it to difficult to know what I’m writing when I can see all of the changes.

We’re picking up here odd things we’ve missed in the previous edit. Or it may be that an attempted alteration has not quite worked – e.g. the writer may have added new text but not deleted the previous version. We might need to adjust something to fit our house-style e.g. We like hyphens and we put thoughts in italics. Or it just might be that an odd bit of dialogue has been set out wrongly. We don’t change anything major at this point.

Naturally, we’re not infallible. If something seems completely wrong, the writer can turn the mark-up on and reject that change. They can also make other changes for the editor to approve.

Once all changes are approved the text is ready for the next stage. This may sound like a lot of toing and froing but in fact it’s usually all accomplished in one exchange.

Track Changes is as good as its word: it keeps track of all the changes until they’re approved. It’s difficult to achieve this another way.      

Note, the text will have three more proof reads but that’s a story for another day.        

Monday 14 January 2019

Join my Dream Team

The idea came to me as I sought reviews for a collection of flash fiction. We need those fifty reviews on Amazon. If one in four of our writers review for us, we’re home and dry. 

I wouldn’t expect everyone to review every time … hence my idea of actually creating a dream team.
And why stop with reviewers? Why not also look for beta readers, editors, copy editors, proof-readers, artists, illustrators and designers.  

This was to be a personal recommendation. Initially I would use my Dream Team a lot myself but gradually I would add in people that friends and friends of friends had recommended. The Dream Team is growing apace but there is room for more. 

What happens?

You sign up to a mailing list and every time a request comes in we mail it out to you or the enquirer contacts you directly via my web site. The conversation then carries on between you and the person making the request. You may also have a page set up on my blog and you may update that once a year. 

Interested? You may sign up for more than one category. 
Beta readers sign up here.
Reviewers sign up here.
Editors sign up here.
Illustrators sign up here.
Designers sign up here.
Proof-readers sing up here.   


I encourage a code amongst writing beta readers and reviewers that they might reciprocate. However, we must at all cost refrain from simply swapping good reviews. Some reviewers and beta readers may simply be readers. We never pay them but perhaps we can be kind to them in other ways. Any ideas? Copies of the finished book, acknowledgements, an invite to the launch and a big fuss about them there?       

Illustrators, proof-readers, editors and designers on the other hand are paid professionals. Their presence on my mailing list implies a personal recommendation.      

Want more tips like this?