"I am at a loss to conceive how a man should permit himself to write anything that would be truly disgraceful to a woman, or why a woman should be censured for writing anything that would be proper and becoming for a man."

22 March 2011

Detailed Minutiae

Do you count thirty minutes spent trying to find the answer to an historically relevant, yet minor, detail as editing time?

It came upon me quite unexpectedly. There I sat, casually marking up my manuscript with what has become the Demon Red Pen* with few cares beyond the composition in front of me. Then, at the beginning of my smutfest scene** I read a sentence I've read dozens of times. Yet for the first time, a little detail struck me as possibly historically inaccurate. It's a minor detail, but one that bothered me as I did not know the answer. A thorough scouring of the interwebs proved fruitless, and a query among my co-workers brought a 90% assurance to the correct answer. Yet that 10% nags at me. I have a message in to my historian father who, I am confident, will either know the answer definitively or be able to find it for me with ease.
Still, that one miniscule detail haunts me in some aspects more than the glaring plot gaps and awkward paragraphs scattered throughout the book. While I know editing to be full of these little gaffes, it amazes me how fixated I become on them when I find them and cannot proceed until I have the answer. I have found for myself a new personal 'tick' in my editing style which I previously ignored. We shall have to reconcile ourselves to these little errors when they arise, for if the internet and my merry band of pop culture and history fanatics are nowhere around when the next minute detail flaw arises, we may go mad from sheer want of a solution -- and start taking on bizarre attributes such as talking of ourselves in the third person.

*It's not a demon because it deletes unnecessary content or corrects grammar and spelling errors, it's a demon because it exposes flaws with no ideas on how to fix them. Fixing the flaws requires more writing, which delays the editing, even though they go together. It's damn aggravating.

** It's not really that smutty. It's risque to a point, but I am writing 'young adult' literature so I tried to stay a little vague... at least in book one. Book two, well... we'll get to that one later.

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