the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other authors

The next stage of working on my manuscript

on April 26, 2023

The copyedits for The Secret Life of Carolyn Russell were returned to me recently. I had a fortnight to go through them and found this was just about long enough to complete the changes needed. Here are three things I was reminded about along the way:

Compound words

How could I have got so many compound words wrong? Take two separate words and combine them to make a new word with a different meaning. When you put the nouns post + box together, created is the red box where we post our letters, a postbox. Sounds simple, right?

One look at this page on Grammarly, and I realise it can be more complicated.


Who knew a space either side of those three little dots indicates missing text? (I did but somehow forgot.) It’s only when the three dots are attached to a word that the trailing off of speech is intended. And don’t get me started on dashes– these show where dialogue is interrupted.


I had used the word but 753 times in the manuscript. I decided this was rather too many and weeded out 300 of them. Often, the word was unnecessary (particularly at the start of a sentence) and the rest I changed to except, although etc. Other high usage words included once, only and with. However did I cope before the find and replace facility?

The next stage of the editing process is proofreading. Who knows what terrible errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar this will flag up. Wish me luck!

7 responses to “The next stage of working on my manuscript

  1. Good luck! I remember a particularly hairy short story class when the lecturer went round the room demanding ‘name a compound adjective’, which is a bit tricky without a noun to follow! The ellipsis thing is familiar – having to take out the spaces. I try to remember to do it as I type now but…

    • gailaldwin says:

      Thanks for dropping by, Maria. You experience of a lecturer barking demands is not dissimilar to one of the scenes in The Secret Life of Carolyn Russell but it includes an intolerant maths teacher.

  2. This is the reason I won’t self-publish. As soon as I doubt myself I start panicking. I’ve started using Grammarly but have found that even that doesn’t make sense sometimes and you have to know what you are trying to tell the reader rather than what you would write in a formal or business letter.

  3. John Nixon says:

    British English is what I like to think of as my flavour of English, but I’ve lived so long abroad that I wonder at times. I do a lot of dictating from longhand notes. My dictation software is set to British English, likewise the spelling checker in my word processing software. Quite often my dictation software will create a single word compound from something I’ve said – just today it printed “doublecheck” – only for it to be queried by the spelling checker. I think the spelling checker errs on the conservative side, but I find myself looking at the word and doubting my own command of the language. Double check? Double-check? Doublecheck? And does it make a difference if I use the word as a noun (as I was doing) and not as a verb? In the end I went with double-check, but I can’t say I’m 100% sure that’s right. (A little further searching now… Webster says “a double check”, Oxford says “a double-check”.)
    And I, too, am looking forward to “The Secret Life …” !

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