A friend recently asked me if I would proof read his first novel. It is a Sci-Fi piece and I have read a huge amount of Sci-Fi over the years, along with decades of writing, so I felt that I was qualified to handle this. Having never done this before I thought it would be a breeze. Was I ever wrong. I started the other night and at first I was a bit put off because the tone was not how I would have written the book. There were turns of phrases that I did not like. I had pages of notes from just the first chapter. Then I sat back and took a deep breath. I realized that it was not as I would have written it because I did not write it. Ok, so I am a slow learner.
Maybe a bit of research was in order so I first looked at Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style. No help. Well the internet has everything so a simple search of the term “copy editing” came up with over seven million hits. Narrowed the search by adding “how to.” Wikihow had what appears to be a good article on the topic and a quick review showed that I was making a number of basic mistakes, starting with one that should have been very obvious. That is to simply read the text once without changing anything. That will be hard. I think that I will need to make some notes but I will not annotate the text until the second read through.
I only have the first quarter of the book and so I should be able to give it two reads by mid next week. Since it looks to be a busy weekend, as most likely all of the forthcoming ones until New Years, I will try and update how my second run went late next week.