Thursday, April 26, 2012

Writing Means Editing. Accept It.

The writer's journey is filled with...edits! And everytime I write on the blog, the real decision is whether to post beautiful men or talk about writing. Writing wins this time though I am giving you a David Gandy treat at the end.

Edits. Every writer has them. Every writer handles them differently.

I don’t have a formal procedure for handling edits but I do have a process. It all starts with the writing of the manuscript. I tend to edit as I go, down to the punctuation. I do not like to finish a sentence that is not as polished as it can be. Each sentence has the exact period, quotation marks at the end.

Now, if you were to ask my editor what my main problem is, she would probably tell you that it is the comma. She wouldn’t like the comma I used after the word now. Some of this is house style, but I haven’t gotten used to it. Yet.

Descriptive tags at the end of my sentence don’t exist. If I write ten tags during the writing of a manuscript, I would be surprised. I tend to avoid them all together. I think the dialogue is much snappier without any sort of identifier. If it is a long conversation, I will include a “he said” in the middle of it as a reminder of who is talking and to keep the reader focused.

One of my favorite examples of a descriptive tag is used by Ken Follett who wrote Pillars of the Earth. In this monster novel, he used this phrase twice and it jumped and screamed at me both times.

…” she said techily.

I had to look it up! It means: peevishly, fretfully, irritably.

I also pay particular attention to the end of my sentences, paragraphs and scenes. I do not like pronouns at the end of a sentence. “He didn’t mean anything to her.” Well, if you are in “her” POV, why include it?
Do you see that “it” I just wrote? I hate ending sentences with it. There I did it again. Why not turn that boring old phrase by transforming the “it?”

For example, “I hate ending sentences with the most boring and trite of all phrases.” I love the amp factor that replacement words can provide.

Once I’m done writing, another of my secrets is to add one more sentence to each page of my manuscript only it must be an emotional sentence – something that adds feeling and depth to my characters. Well, I’m not saying it works, just something I do during the editing process.

Oh, and I just thought of something else my editor would probably chide me for. The echo. I am stunned by the number of times I will reuse the same word within close proximity. It must be a brain function. A phrase may get locked in your brain as you write and then it’s the first one you grab when you need another quick word. Surely, there is a study that helps explain this phenomenon.

Having a clean first draft is the most important reward I can give myself as an author.

Well, happy writing folks.

And for those of you who made it to the end, check out your reward below – the beautiful David Gandy.

And my next two book covers... What do you think?

1 comment:

Eliza Lloyd said...

I should confess that my editor may not agree with my easy assessment of my editing abilities!