Sample of Novel Editing

On this side we have the original manuscript of A Coronation of Kings, first published in 2015. Samuel C. Stokes wanted me to Americanize his Australian punctuation and spelling and to remedy what some readers had said were too many grammatical errors in the original. I have inserted spacing to make it easier to read the two versions side by side.

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Without relenting, Tristan spun around, parried the incoming strike from the smart-mouthed thief. Another stroke of the rapier and the man fell to his knees, clutching his leg, blood running freely as it stained his trousers. The man’s blade clattered noisily across the cobblestones as Tristan swiped it from his grasp. Tristan sheathed his weapon and turned towards the door. As he did so, he spied the man reaching for his boot.

 

 

     Looking back over his shoulder, Tristan warned him curtly, ‘That wound on your hand will heal, but if that knife leaves your boot you will not live to see sundown. I will not kill without cause; do not make me think twice about sparing your life.’

 

     ‘Who are you?’ The man asked pulling his hand back as if he’d been stung.

 

     ‘Just a boy a long way from home and I have a journey yet ahead of me.’

 

     ‘Not today you don’t. The sentinels allowed your passage out of curiosity. If you leave without the Underman’s blessing, you will not make the surface. Take that door and seek it. One good turn deserves another.’

 

 

 

 

     Tristan turned to face the door; with some trepidation he pushed it open. A long tunnel disappeared into the darkness and standing just before him was a man holding a sack in his hands. ‘Put this on and follow me -the Underman will see you now.’

 

 

 

     Slipping the sack over his head, Tristan began wondering about the wisdom of pursuing his current course. His escort led him blindfolded through the tunnels for what seemed like an eternity; eventually he was led into a room and seated. His escort pulled the sack off his head and spoke softly, ‘The Underman is the most wanted man on Valaar. His identity is a closely guarded secret, if you turn to face him; I’ll run you through without a second thought. Do you understand?’

 

 

 

     Tristan nodded, unsure just what else could be done. His escort moved behind him and drew his sword resting the point against Tristan’s back. After a few minutes the door opened again and another man entered and addressed Tristan, his heavy accent was not native to Belnair. ‘You put me in a difficult position, my young lord.’

 

 

 

     ‘Lord?’ queried Tristan feigning ignorance, ‘you are mistaken, I...’

 

<snip>

 

 

 

     ‘One of your thieves took something that belonged to my father and I won’t be parted from it.’ Tristan’s voice wavered as he mentioned his father.

 

     ‘I am sorry to hear of your father, Tristan. He was a good man and did not deserve such a fate. ‘

 

 

     ‘What do you know of my father?’ Tristan queried skeptically.

 

 

<snip>

 

 

     ‘His loss is a tragedy indeed. May I ask how you intend to accomplish such a thing?’ queried the Underman cautiously.

 

     ‘I don’t know, but I will find a way!’ Tristan exclaimed frustrated and embarrassed at the same time.

 

 

<snip>

 

 

     We know much of you, Tristan Listar, but you know little of us. I run the underworld of Belnair, if it turns a coin we have a hand in it. Our resources are considerable and we have the information and the means to undermine Gerwold in his attempt. I will resist Gerwold with every breath in my body. The men who serve me feel likewise. We have the money, the men, and the means -what we lack is a leader. We need soldiers not scoundrels.’

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Thanks to Sam Stokes for permission to share our work together!

 On this side we have the final version,  after my initial editing and Sam Stokes's rewriting. I have retained my comments on this SECOND light edit and proofreading, and you may read them at the end of the selection. After reviewing these comments and changes, the author republished the novel in late 2016. Although this sample shows a longer edited version, in most cases my editing results in a smaller, tighter document.

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     Without relenting, Tristan spun around and parried the incoming strike from the smart-mouthed cur[CM1] . Another stroke of the rapier and the man fell to his knees, clutching his leg, blood running freely as it stained his trousers. The man’s blade clattered noisily across the cobblestones as Tristan swiped it from his grasp. Tristan sheathed his weapon and turned toward the door. As he did so, over his shoulder he spied the man reaching for his boot.

 

     Tristan warned him curtly, “That wound on your hand will heal, but if that knife leaves your boot you will not live to see sundown. I will not kill without cause; do not make me think twice about sparing your life.”

 

 

     The man pulled his hand back as if he’d been stung.“Who are you?” he asked.

 

     “Just a boy a long way from home, and I have a journey yet ahead of me.”

 

     “Not today, you don’t. As you came here, you passed our sentinels. If not for your hasty approach you might have seen them. They allowed your passage out of curiosity. If you leave without the Underman’s blessing, you will not make it out alive. Take that door and seek his favor, or take your chance against the sentinels. It's up to you.[CM3] 

 

     Tristan turned to face the door; with some trepidation he pushed it open. A long tunnel disappeared into the darkness and standing just before him was a man holding a sack in his hands. “Put this on and follow me—the Underman will see you. I pray for your sake he finds you as interesting as these fools did.” The man gestured to the embarrassed guards behind Tristan as he spoke.

 

     Reticent at first, Tristan hesitated. When the guard did not move he reluctantly slipped the sack over his head. As his sight was blocked Tristan began wondering about the wisdom of pursuing his current course. His escort led him blindfolded through the tunnels for what seemed like an eternity; eventually he was led into a room and seated. His escort pulled the sack off his head and spoke softly: “The Underman is the most wanted man on Valaar. His identity is a closely guarded secret. If you turn to face him, I’ll run you through without a second thought. Do you understand?”

 

     Tristan nodded, unsure just what else could be done. His escort moved behind him and drew his sword, resting the point against Tristan’s back. After a few minutes the door opened again and another man entered and addressed Tristan; his heavy accent was not native to Belnair. “Imagine my surprise: I get word that we have a trespasser in our den and I come here to find you." The voice was incredulous as he continued: "You put me in a difficult position, my young lord.”

 

     “Lord?” asked Tristan, feigning ignorance. “You are mistaken. I . . .”

 

 

<snip>

 

 

     “One of your thieves took something that belonged to my father and I won’t be parted from it.” Tristan’s voice wavered as he mentioned his father.

 

     “I am sorry to hear of your father, Tristan.” The man spoke his name! “He was a good man and did not deserve such a fate. “

 

     “What do you know of my father?” Tristan asked skeptically.

 

 

<snip>

 

 

     “His loss is a tragedy indeed. May I ask how you intend to accomplish such a thing?” asked the Underman cautiously.

 

     “I don’t know, but I will find a way!” Tristan was frustrated and embarrassed at the same time.

 

 

 <snip>

 

 

     “We know much of you, Tristan Listar,” he continued, “but you know little of us. I run the underworld of Belnair—if it turns a coin we have a hand in it. Our resources are considerable and we have the information and the means to undermine Gerwold in his attempt. I will resist Gerwold with every breath in my body. The men who serve me feel likewise. We have the money, the men, and the means—what we lack is a leader who can inspire our men to a higher cause. We need soldiers, not scoundrels.”

 


 [CM1]Since the boy is the only thief identified so far

 [CM3]Editing through your new changes . . . I like the tone!

 [CM4]Just so you know, when a character continues his dialogue into a new paragraph, we use opening quotation marks but don’t close the quotation marks from the previous paragraph.

 [CM7]According to the map!

 



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