Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Self-publishing Saga, Part 1

I've given up trying to interest an agent in my novel, Getting Oriented, and have decided to self-publish. For one thing, it does not fit neatly into a genre, and that makes it difficult to sell to a commercial publisher. But aside from the fact that it is simply a good novel, I had not looked at the manuscript for more than a year, and the last time I looked, I thought it was polished and ready to go. Ha!

When I began rereading, I discovered that I tend to be the Village Explainer. In an attempt to make everything clear, I say the same thing twice in different words, or put in extraneous detail, or simply repeat myself. Going through the manuscript, I discovered I could cut 5 percent or so of the words with no damage to the meaning and a major improvement in the story's flow.

When my wife, who is also a writer, read the manuscript with a copy-editor's eye, she pointed out that I had fallen into the habit of using ellipses in place of commas or to suggest pauses in dialogue. I'd also not used commas when I needed them. I brought in a new shipment of commas and retired perhaps a hundred ellipses.

The tweaks we've made to the manuscript improve it considerably. The characters, the story, the setting are all the same. I do think that the careful reader who cares about punctuation, wordiness, and—both of you—the overuse of ellipses will enjoy the story even more.

1 comment:

  1. Friends and followers, what Wally DIDN'T say is that the story is now stronger, the characters even more alive, and the descriptions of Japan old and new have been polished to engage readers even more.

    It's true that in the past, he was stingy with commas and over-generous with ellipses, but not in the version of the novel that you'll be reading this summer.