Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Revision, Revision, Revision...!!!

Top Ten Writing Mistakes Editors See Everyday

Number ten caught my attention. I recently met the great short-story writer, George Saunders. George said that if you have a finished writing piece after four edits, then you are either a true genius, or you have a lot of editing left. Another great author, William Haywood Henderson, told me that he edits his novels at least twelve times before he sends it to his editor.

Revision is not scary. Editing your work is where all the creativity happens. Chapters get flipped upside-down, dangling characters come to light, there's a realization that the beginning is smack-dab in the middle, etc. etc. In other words, you get to do whatever you want! Kill off characters, merge characters, tighten prose, but it doesn't have to get done all at once. Take baby steps.

The first thing I do is set MS Word to "find.". What am I trying to find? Well, it's all those "To Be" verbs:

Infinitive-- to be
Present-- am, is, are
Past-- was, were
Present Participle-- being
Past Participle-- been
Present Subjunctive-- be
Past Subjunctive-- were
Imperative-- be

When I find these often pesky verbs I have an opportunity to pick a stronger verb, or leave it alone. It's that easy.

The second thing I do is hunt for adverbs. "Find" is set to "ly" and off I go. If taking an adverb out tightens my prose, then out it goes.

These first two steps are just a few of my editing tricks. Blast fresh, creative air across the pages. Enjoy the breeze.

More later...
Write on!