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Revise, rewrite and reconsider…what, throwing everything back in the drawer?
How many edits does one book require?
It’s very frustrating to think that the edits are endless, ongoing and forever. Just joking. Sort of. Maybe. Not really.
My frustration is due to a recent editing binge. My friend, and personal editor, sent back my book with her usual expert edits, and after a day and a half, I finally have the book more reader ready.
My friend is very good at picking out my most common mistakes. All I need to see is her note ‘shift in POV’ and I grimace. Again? I’m getting better. I should be, after all she’s pointed it out to me often enough.
And then there’s tense. All that past, present, future crap. I play, I played, I will play. Or I write, I wrote, I will write. I screw it up by going I’m writing, I was writing, and maybe on some future day I will write…good, better, best.
‘I writ it down’, how’s that for good grammar?
Because I’m still in a learning phase, I read books and articles on writing.
Writer’s Digest has a newsletter with interesting articles written by their online editor, Brian Klems. A recent article was titled “3 Easy-To-Use Revision Techniques”.
Yeah right, Brian. One thing I do agree with is his comment that the “revision process can be brutal”.
So here are his revision techniques.
Number One: Start on page one.
Follow your story the same way your reader would.
Number Two: Circle passive voice words and eliminate.
Passive voice slows down your work and makes it less exciting for the reader.
Words such as was, were, are, is and have been.
Number Three: Delete all clichés.
So, I took my recently edited book, Number TWO in my roster of books and tried his easy to use number two technique.
This is easily done on the computer with that neat little feature called FIND.
You can do FIND, FIND AND REPLACE, or FIND AND GO TO.
I used FIND, what?: have been, and checked Highlight all items found in: Main Document. Finally I clicked on Find All and lo and behold, there were 29 places where I used the words ‘have been’.
All these have beens are making me feel like a has-been writer.
I went back to the book, started at the beginning, and eliminated 22 out of 29 of these phrases. Next time I write, I’m going to do this little exercise chapter by chapter. Maybe I’ll get the hang of it by the end.
If you were going to try this with your own writing, have been isn’t a bad start. Don’t go to is, it was a truly horrifying experience. Apparently I used is one thousand, eight hundred and forty times. How can this possibly be?
I had to look and see for myself, and was mildly comforted to see that the computer picked up all incidents of i’s and s’s, such as whisper, isolated and television. Phew.
I played one more time and did the Find thing with the word was. Now I’m absolutely disheartened. One thousand, two hundred and seventy four times I used the word was, and I didn’t find any words like washed or wasted to make me feel better.
Oh well, It’s a learning curve right?