Editing: Oh, those Goofy Goofs

music playing: Loreena Mckennitt’s, “The Highwayman”

For the last couple of weeks I have been fully occupied with editing my novel, “Portraits of the Living:  A Ghost Story”.   This has mostly entailed me studying every line with the scrutiny of Holmes with his magnifying glass, sending chapters to my wonderful betas, and fixing any typos  that they found.

Which brings me to the reason of this post: those goofs you discover in your manuscript that leave you shaking your head, wondering what planet your brain had vacationed to.

Example?  In chapter five when Anne is being hypnotized by Mr. Raferat, he tells her to shut her eyes and relax.  Okay.  But then he proceeded to take out a pocket watch and tell her to follow it with her eyes.  Hmm. . .

Oh, but there’s more!  My beta (who totally rocks!  waves pompoms back at her)  alerted me to the fact that in chapter one, the servant says goodnight to Anne and turns to leave.  Anne stops her, asks her a question, and then the servant takes a key out of her apron pocket and unlocks the guest room for  Anne.   As my beta put it,  “why did she start to walk away if she had to unlock the door for Anne?”  Uhm, uh yeah.  Very good question.

Okay.  Fess up.  What goofy goofs have you, or someone else, discovered in one of your manuscripts?

Published in: on June 11, 2009 at 11:46 pm  Comments (22)  
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  1. I know i’ve made some, but my brain isn’t cooperating right now. Must be in denial 😀

    In a couple weeks (or three or four, depending how much longer this current first draft takes me) i’ll be going back over another first draft and i bet there’ll be plenty of gaffes throughout it.

    In a book I’m reading at the moment the first sentence puts the date at 27th December. Then two pages on, the narrator says, ‘it was two days before Christmas’ and i’m going ‘what’ and checking what i’ve read to figure out what’s going on. Turns out in the paragraph previous we’d gone back in time, but i’d missed it. Naughty me, skimming a book so early on. 😀

  2. Oh I caught a doozy in my WIP (the witchy one, not the vamp). First they were talking in someone’s bedroom. Next thing you know, the MC is bounding up the stairs to that person’s room… 😉 It’s stuff like that that makes me say this first draft is a hopeless mess.

  3. Hey Isaac,

    You’ll have to come back here and share a gaffe you find after your draft is finished.

    Good luck with it, btw!

  4. DD,

    hee hee! I can just see your character thinking, “Wait. Wasn’t I just in this room?”

  5. One of my characters left a room specifically leaving behind an item. At the end of the chapter suddenly she was miraculously in the possession of it. There was no way I was going to go back 2 pages after I had just read it through so I added a few lines there to explain it, a mini flashback along the lines of “she looked down at her hands and sighed in relief that she had gone back for it.”

    I am clever that way, or maybe just lazy. I haven’t yet had been locked out of rooms or been asked to follow watches with closed eyes though. I am sure that will happen sometime. So far, I am extremely persnickety and check everything multiple times which makes me slow but consistent.

    Another thing I started with the revisions, and you may do this as well, is to keep a running plot& details summary so I know who’s who and all such stuff. I update this every single time I write at the end of each session.

  6. I just noticed that my sidekick character has blue eyes in one paragraph and they’re brown in the next. I don’t know which is worse: getting them so blatantly mixed up, or feeling the need to describe his eyes twice on the same page. Extra cringe.

    And I put them in Michigan on a road trip pit-stop. Except they end up in a hospital in Minnesota three pages later. Quite a trick, that. They’ll be in Maine before you know it.

  7. On my first WIP a running joke fell flat when a picture that was supposed to disappear and come back did without any explanation.

    On the second WIP I noticed at least to mayor whoppers (even before I finished my first rough draft) related to books. The people that kept the books did so for all the wrong reasons. That and had an aircraft launch one missile when two would have done the job.

  8. “Wait. Wasn’t I just in this room?”

    Hehehe! That’s funny, I should see if I can work that in somehow 😉

  9. Congratulations on finishing the final edit by the way and the amount of attention and energy that went into the last two weeks! I must be losing my mind because this was the first thing I should have said in my last comment. I am excited, happy, thrilled and a million other adjectives for you, Gypsy! All the best with the next steps. 🙂

  10. Waving those pompoms madly right back atcha. (Her novel is *wonderful*, people! : )

    As to the goofs — I also have problems, sometimes, with the time-space continuum in my drafts. One second the character is in the kitchen, and then all of a sudden she’s in the living room!

    My other boo boo is to call the novel’s MC by the name of the *previous* novel’s MC. That always makes me laugh at myself, when I read back at another time and catch myself doing that. I don’t even know I’m doing it!


  11. Amy,

    Well, uhm…at least all the states begin with the same letter. 😉

  12. hey Venus,

    Don’t worry. You’re not losing your mind. I’m still editing. I never like to give time frames since they tend to jinx me, but I hope to be done by sometime this coming week, and then begin querying.

    But thank you soooo much for your kind words and support. They really do encourage me, and it’s nice to think of them as premonition! 🙂

  13. There’s my Em!

    “Waving those pompoms madly right back atcha. (Her novel is *wonderful*, people! : )”



    In regards to your goofy goofs- it is funny how characters just can’t keep it straight on where they should be. Maybe your MC is related to DD’s. 😉

  14. Hey Ralfast,

    Guess it was a magical picture? 🙂

  15. I wish, but is not that kind of story. No fairies, dwarfs or wands either.


    But I fixed it so no worries.


  16. I just want to say I LOVE The Highwayman by McKennitt!

  17. Haha, I’m right there with you girl. Sometimes you borrow so deeply into a story – walking around with it in your head for months or years at a time – that a literal tunnel vision develops! In my mind, I picture my characters on stage, as if they’re in a play. Then I write down what I ‘see’ in my head. Sometimes it makes it easier … then, of course, there’s always helpful editing friends! Keep up the awesome work!

  18. I was definitely at Columbus Day in my manuscript one day and a couple chpters later I was in the spring…um…whoops??

  19. Hi Trisha,

    Nice to meet you. 🙂

    And nice to hear from a McKennitt fan. She has one of the most beautiful voices ever.

  20. Hey Meg,

    “Sometimes you borrow so deeply into a story – walking around with it in your head for months or years at a time – that a literal tunnel vision develops!”

    I think you just nailed it on the head!

    And I also like to picture my characters on stage. It does really help. 🙂

  21. Colby,

    Heh! I wish spring could come that quickly. 🙂

  22. Far too many goofs I fear. I find reading aloud helps me catch a lot of them.

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