After you’ve created a piece of text, you’ve got to spend hours polishing it to perfection. It’s very helpful if someone else – ideally, a professional editor – does a thorough comb through it. Editors look at the overall flow and narrative of the text, and they also proofread.
Longer pieces of text need great attention spans. In this case we found that we had repeated certain ideas more than once across the text. This happens when you’re trying to make connections between the different aspects of a person’s life. But it’s annoying for a reader to get that ‘Didn’t I just read this somewhere?’ feeling. As with any piece of writing, a fresh pair of eyes notices a whole lot of new things.
Most text goes through several drafts before it is good enough to be shown to the world at large. Besides the crucial aspects of grammar, spelling, tense, consistency and so on, there are other more ambiguous issues at work, such as choice of words, active/passive voice, writing style, and sentence length and construction. Here are a few examples of things we mulled over.
High relief: Is it hyphenated or not? Since it was the title of the book, we had better be really sure!
Are walls ‘built’, ‘created’, or ‘constructed’? Since these were unique walls of art, we often used ‘created’.
An artist can conceptualise, imagine, dream, create, build, work, draw, paint and sculpt. Consider which is the most appropriate word for the context.
Each of the three high relief walls had a specific construction process. We had to understand this process in detail, and explain it to a reader. Technical processes have specific words that should not be replaced. For instance, cement is ‘cured’, bricks are ‘laid’, and wood is ‘seasoned’. A wall needs ‘reinforcement’ (not support).
The Acknowledgement section of the book looked deceptively simple to write. In fact, we agonized over it again and again. There is always the very real fear of leaving someone out. Then one has to consider the order in which to thank people. The main challenge is to make sure the acknowledgement is genuinely grateful, and not seemingly routine in any manner.
Though captions are just little sentences under images, they are very important. The caption has to make sense of the image. Vague captions are meaningless and useless. If a caption turns into a paragraph, it probably needs to move into the text itself.
There are countless issues when it comes to writing, but not to worry, we won’t go into all of them here! I can’t leave without saying one last thing. There is a certain thrill to see one’s writing in print. And when it is a book of this nature, the thrill is just so special.