Just finished a spell-check on the fourth and hopefully final draft of The Last Damned Vampire on Earth, my novel I've been documenting work on. I did two chapters of editing a couple of nights ago, two more last night, and hit the end. Now I've sent a note to my agent to confirm that she still wants to see it (it's been a few months on this draft), and it's off!
For those who like these things, the manuscript worked out to 320 pages -- 20 more than the previous draft, but a significant chunk of that was just formatting, like spacing for chapter heads. Final word count was 73,116, a solid length, not too long.
Toni did something very nice for me, which was a line-by-line edit to the same standards she does for her own work. In practice, this generally meant 2-5 edits per page, ranging from word shifts and insertions to questions about plot. (She just turned in Without Mercy, the first book in her new series, about six weeks ago or so.) This process is very illuminating on one's own style, and reinforces a view I've always held, which is that editors are useful!
For one thing, it's hard to catch your own verbal tics. Interestingly, in most cases they were deliberately used words or phrases which were simply too frequent.
For example, I used the word "chuckled" a lot. Not inappropriately --as far as I can tell there is no synonym for chuckle that captured what I want accurately. Snicker? Sounds too nasty. Snigger? Worse. Chortle? A portmanteau word of Lewis Carroll's, it is a combination of snort and chuckle. Not the same as a dry little chuckle alone, by definition.
But about the twenty-fifth time you use it, it gets annoying! In fact, I still have eighteen "chuckles" left, after substituting laugh or smile, or just deleting it. I'm hoping 18 isn't too many out of 73,000 words...
I have observed that some people seem to feel that editors are, at best, annoying. ("Editors are vampires and ghouls." Dorothy L. Sayers, referring to newspaper editors, but still...) This seems to be particularly common amongst people who have been rejected by editors. But they serve a purpose, and good editors are like gold. They enable you to rethink your work, your way.
I disagreed with many of Toni's comments, sometimes because she didn't know my intentions (I was planting a clue for later use), and sometimes just because it was a style issue, and of course I win those -- I'm the author, dammit! But the vast majority of what she noted were useful or at least thought-provoking. Even when I disagreed with a comment, it sometimes forced me to reconsider what I had done, and make sure it was a choice instead of an accident.
Next up: my next nonfiction book and probably interspersing it with my sequel to LDVoE, which already has 20,000 words!