Formatting ≠ editing

It is my pleasure to announce that draft two of my alpha manuscript has been completed. One more once-over, and it will be ready for beta readers to read, enjoy, or toss to the wind in exasperation.

However, that also means I have reached my least favorite part of the writing process: compiling and formatting.

Normally, this is a manageable task for one familiar with Word’s layout functions and a document of a few pages.

Not so, when the document in question is a full-length novel of 93,700 words and 320 pages.

Hello darkness, my old friend...

Hello darkness, my old friend…


Everything is a dance party until some pretty shady characters show up to crash it. Often they are loud and obnoxious, like this square that decided to create a page break for me, and is apparently invincible to deletion.

Go home, square dot. You're drunk.

Go home, square dot. You’re drunk.


Other times, and worse still, they remain quietly in the background, standing awkwardly by the cheese tray, uncertain of how they got there, but also refusing to leave for no reason. For example, massive leaps in page numbers (the previous page was 2) due to formatting constraints by a template.

You make nothing ok.

You make nothing ok.


When preset coding fails you, serious manual editing is required. To accomplish this, you’ll need at least 5 basic P’s. In fact, every good editor should have these P’s. I will say they are by no means the only P’s, and conversely not the only letter an editor is limited to. I’m partial to K, myself.

If you are an editor, you are a slayer of the extraneous and the erroneous. Patience and persistence are the names of your dual blades. Equipped, they make you a force to be reckoned with. Go into battle without them, and the enemy slays you instead. There will be screaming and flailing and possible bloodletting. It’s not a pretty sight.

Being professional should really go without saying. Is there any other kind of editor? Bear in mind that bad editors can be professional too, and be aware of rates.

A good editor will drop everything to meet her client’s deadline. She is punctual, in more ways than one. She may or may not make awful puns.

She will also be personable. Are you a person? That is a good start. You are well on your way to becoming an editor, because you are not a computer. You can carry on an open, non-intrusive, and helpful conversation with your client. You do not feel the need to insert unnecessary questions or make suggestive expressions with your eyebrows.

You tried, Clippy, but you failed.

You tried, Clippy, but you failed.

So continues my steady climb up the side of the mountain. I’ll let you know when the peak is in sight.

Here’s to trails yet traveled and tales yet told. May we learn the ways of wide and rushing waters, the vast expanses of land where feet have not yet fallen. Here’s to you, my steadfast family, bound by the path we share.

— The Vow of the Vagrants