As I mentioned previously, I have not written much fiction as an adult. When I was a kid, I wrote all of the time, but somewhere in high school and early college, I stopped. I think I stopped because of how little time I had. I wanted to learn everything, try everything, and go everywhere. I did end up doing a lot, and I'm glad I did because now when I write, I have stories to tell. That said, I missed out on learning technical rules that a professional writer should know, and it's hurting me now.
After the editor sent back the first round of recommended changes, I felt terrible. I had made big, huge, horrible errors. I was embarrassed, and I felt like I had let myself and the publisher down. The editor kindly assured me that, no, it was her job to show me, and, I know, you may say that editors have a special gift for seeing mistakes, but that doesn't mean that storytellers can't become good writers...I don't want the editor going blind by trying to read and re-read and re-read mistakes I should have caught...or never even have made! So, what to do?
I went to the library. They have a little room where they sell all of the old books no one wants any more, and I picked up a copy of The Little, Brown Handbook, a college dictionary from the 1960's, and a thesaurus. The first is a book that breaks down grammar rules. I'm sure there are a dozen different books available out there, but this one is fairly concise, and it targets my weak points. I decided to get a college level dictionary from before the age of computers (or at least our concept of computers) because English has had such a dramatic shift, but the core of it remains the same. I wanted one that was college level or higher because (1) it has more words and (2) it has deeper explanations. I chose a thesaurus because I just don't tend to find what I want online when I type in words looking for synonyms. For $3, I think it was worth the price.
Now, the little story is hopefully going to spin off into a series, and I need to get working on book two, but I hope when I send this one in, it will be a little easier on the eyes of the person who has to edit it.
P.S. I'm also still working my way through The Portable MFA in Creative Writing. It's interesting to see how writers think about other writers and about the process. I still love my brain candy (scifi, romance, and mystery), but by reading heavier works, I feel motivated to tell deeper stories than the standard fluff. I want my books to make people stretch and grow.