Suffice it to say that the whole "6th-draft" experience was humbling indeed. I begin to see more clearly with every pass through the MS the value of a professional editor to identify weaknesses and errors and get the author moving on them. By the time I completed the 6th draft run-through (with the grammar checker finally turned on, to point out my many grammatical and syntactical sins:(), I had found and corrected a minimum of 2,000 errors in the MS.
Generally, my errors - so easy to see now, with the benefit of two years of "cooling off" since I completed the first draft - fall into five categories, all of which I know better than to indulge in. The big categories are;
- Simple typos and word substitutions that the spelling checker didn't pick up (their for they're, to for too, etc) This one puzzles me. I must have had the spelling checker turned off - a lot..
- Passive Voice - I had no idea I so often resort to long, contorted passive sentences ("the box was packed with/He was slow in climbing to his feet, etc)
- "Null words" - LOTS of instances where I gratuituously used "that" and "which".
- Sentences beginning with "And" or "But". Really glaring stuff! I remember writing many of these, and thinking that (see, see?) I was doing so consciously, to add emphasis to the statement. But (see again?) there were just way too many of these. Many of these were edited to create compound sentences (and note the passive voice...)
- Run-on sentences. I had no idea I was such a wordy writer (well, actually, I did, but I thought I had already addressed that...). The good folks at Microsoft must have pointed out three hundred incidences of "Long Sentence - consider revising", and by combining those "And" and "But" sentences, I just created even more of these.