The edited manuscript of Under the Skin (the fifth Elizabeth Goodweather book, tentatively scheduled for an October 2011 release) showed up Friday. My editor's comments and suggestions are in pencil; the copy editor's marks are in green.(I get to use red this time.)
The copy editor also keeps track of continuity -- making sure that my dates agree, that I don't have Gloria call Elizabeth 'Lizzy' on one page and 'Lizzie' on another. My editor (Herself) is reading, I think, with an eye to writing style and to building tension, as well as making sure that what I say makes sense.
When I'm writing, I already know quite a lot about these characters and their background and motivations and if I'm not careful, I may forget that the reader doesn't have all that same information. Herself and the copy editor bring their fresh eyes to the work.
They catch me when I repeat myself; Herself pushes me to add more tension to a flat scene and suggests a better word or phrasing now and then.
It's truly a suggestion. I'm free to write 'stet' by their changes -- which means 'leave it the way I wrote it.'
I don't often disagree. This time though I've stetted my use of the lower case g when a speaker who isn't a believer says something like 'Oh my god.' I like to save the capital G for someone actually invoking the Deity.
I love reading through these pages and polishing the words one last time. It's been months since I sent it in and it's fun to read it again. And oh, how I love seeing which parts Herself liked -- and where the copy editor agreed!