I’ve spent the last 6 days going through the edits of ‘Dream of Paris’ which I finally sent to my editor on Monday evening. By Tuesday morning, she had the galley proofs ready for me (she works very quickly!), and I spent another day hunched in front of the computer.
The edits were interesting. I didn’t realise how often I had my characters starting a sentence with ‘So’ (please take note, Ana, and kick me if you notice me doing that in future!). My other over-used word seems to be ‘that’. I’ve managed (on the whole) to get out of the habit of using it after words like realised, decided, thought (etc) but I’m still unsure of when to use ‘that’ and when to use ‘which’ in a sentence such as: ‘There was an expression in his dark eyes that ( or which?) kicked her heart into double time.’ In some similar cases, my editor changed ‘that’ to ‘which’; in other cases, she left it as ‘that’ – and I don’t really know why!
I also had the usual American/British English differences to sort out. My editor was quite happy for me to do this. As she said, she and her sub-editor have never been to England, so they’re not familiar with our phrases. Besides which, she says they both enjoy the ‘British’ tone of my writing. The main ones I had to change ‘back’ to Britspeak, were: ‘Let’s go make coffee’ back to our phrase ‘Let’s go and make some coffee’; ‘she glanced out the window’ to ‘she glanced out of the window’; and ‘hit his stride’ to ‘got into his stride.’ Oh, and we say Maths, not Math!
The thing I had the most problems with, however, was the use of the past perfect tense. To my mind, when characters are talking or thinking about something that happened in their past, then you use the past perfect tense.
I’ll qualify that slightly and say I do make an exception if it’s a paragraph (or longer) of thoughts about the past. In that case, I’ll use the past perfect in the first sentence, then slip into the normal past tense for the rest.
But if it’s just a ‘one-off’ thought, then I tend to use ‘he had’ or ‘she had’ (or the contractions) e.g. “She thought about what Jenny had mouthed to her.” In this case, Jenny had mouthed a comment to her ten minutes (i.e. about a page!) earlier. The sub-editor changed this to ‘She thought about what Jenny mouthed to her’ – which to me simply didn’t sound right! In all fairness, I have to say my editor accepted the times when I reverted to ‘had’ (or she’d or he’d in other examples), and it did make me look out for the times when I didn’t actually need to use the past perfect, so maybe that’s something else I’ll have to watch out for in future.
In fact I’ve just spotted one in my current WIP in something my heroine says: “He said I’d already seen one like this but I can’t remember where.” Now – should that be ‘I’d already seen’ or ‘I already saw’?
All in all, a useful learning curve – which all goes to show we’re always learning in this game, aren’t we?
‘Dream of Paris’ should be available on Amazon later this week – just in time for Valentine’s Day, which is very appropriate, since Paris is called the City of Love! And here’s the cover, which I think is fabulous – and very romantic!