I just completed a pretty darn clean read-through. All I found were minor word-choice issues, and in one ‘action’ scene, I made some minor tweaking to the order of sentences for pacing. As much as I dislike that it’s taken two months to get to this point, what has transpired has only reinforced my assertion that you should never, ever discount the value of doing your own read-throughs nor should you discount the value of test readers.
Performing your own read-throughs of a complete manuscript lets you get a feel for the entire thing, see its flow, see the various plot-lines and how they interweave, and see how the multiple story arcs progress all together. I have read the complete manuscript six times since the first draft was complete at the end of August, and in every read-through prior to this last one, I found something fairly big. Particularly with how a certain investigation was progressing, I found places where what was in my head had not made it clearly to the page. I found places where in my zeal to describe a cool new thing, I gave away too much ahead of time, and so when the character ‘realized’ something about it, that realization made no sense because that something had been described prior. And when I decided to add a little scene near the end to give a certain character a chance at a bit of payback, I realized a major plot had a major hole. All those things I corrected.
I also got my test reader feedback. Fresh eyes see things that the author’s do not. So many things. Wrong character name used in speech tags, a case of the wrong verb tense (I change sentences around a lot and sometimes forget to check if a verb tense needs changing based on the new structure of the sentence), confusing sentences (this is sort of a period piece, so the language used has a hint of that, but sometimes just saying it simply is the best course), and the most important thing found was just a ridiculous over-usage of a certain action tag. Like a speech tag, an action tag ties a character to a piece of dialog, but it does so with action (an example with a different action tag: Aeron blinked. “You want to do what?”). It took me something like three hours to search that tag out across the entire manuscript and decide whether to keep it as it was, to replace it with a different tag, remove it completely (just leave the dialog), or to rewrite that part a bit. It took so long because I had to be careful not to over-use the fixes for the over-use. At any rate, I addressed all the feedback in one way or another.
All of that means the manuscript is complete. Now, I just have to come up with a cover blurb (working on that), finish the cover (98-ish percent done), and decide whether what I have now as a title will remain the title (no spoilers!). The trade paperback version will take at least a week longer because I have to get a physical sample of the book shipped to me so that I can check the printing of the cover (including alignment on the front, back, and the spine, and where the cover image is cut at the edges) and the interior before approving it for sale. BUT. I should have the e-book version on sale by the end of the month. I have been working really, really hard to make that happen. Along with familiar faces, there are some new characters that I think you’ll like a lot, I know I do, and I can’t wait for you to meet them.
Anyway, enough blabbing. Back to finishing the book!