Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hints on Editing a Manuscript.

I've noticed a lot of writers  are now editing their current wip, and I thought this may help. :)

You’ve just finished your novel. It has been through a series of drafts, it has been sent to critique partners and now you think it’s finished. Do you go through a series of checklists? If not, here are a few tips to help you and remind me. :)

The search function in Microsoft word is one of the most valuable tools a writer can have.

1. Do a search on all ly words, pressing to highlight how many there are in a manuscript. Evaluate each adverb. You can delete, or change at least 98% of these annoying little words. Adverbs are a sign of weak writing, and they slow the pace.

2. Phrases such as seemed to, and tried to, began to, also weaken the writing.

3. Use gaze instead of eyes. Ex: Her eyes wandered the room. Her gaze wandered the room.

4. Don’t forget the effect comes after the cause. Ex: Suzanne jumped when the fridge made a sound. Better: When the fridge made a sound, Suzanne jumped.

5. Dialogue tags. Use action tags, not dialogue tags or none at all. Ex: he said, she said. He said.

6. Using the word ‘it’ all the time is also a sign of weak writing. Search for the word it. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense, and the reader is better informed when it is replaced with the subject (the noun) you are referring to.

7. Repetitive words. We all use them. Check for words that you repeat. I have a list. :) But don’t forget Anaphora, the repetition of the same word or words at the beginning of phrases, clauses, or sentences. Use it sparingly and intentionally.

8. Show don’t tell. Ex: he was walking toward her. Better: he walked toward her. Better still, he stalked toward her.

9. Head hopping: Watch out for POV (point of view changes) the reader can feel distant from a story if POV is changing often.

10. Don’t forget to use the five senses: Hear, smell, sight, feel, touch. Do a search for telling words such as, saw, heard, and felt. Make them stronger.

11. Use verbs to up the action in your story. This is my favourite. I love verbs.

12. Have your computer read your work back to you by using, Microsoft Sam. You can also use, the read out loud function if you change your word document into a pdf file. You can convert a word file to a pdf file by using cute writer. Cute Writer is a free download that is fantastic, and easy to install. 

13. I think I have covered redundant words. But make sure those pesky little words on the end a sentence do not appear. Your writing will be tighter and flow smoother.

When we have checked these points and many more, a spelling and grammar check is another useful tool

Remember it’s the publisher that sets the golden rules. Read as much material as you can on what they publish, in the genre you are targeting. One publisher may accept adverbs, and I know that Harlequin Mills and Boon allow adverbs to some extent, but other publishers it may be a no no. This is where they say do your homework. Another publisher might say no no to a prologue, another accept prologues. This is the same for epilogues. Study the market, and read the debut novels of first time authors and find out what made their novel different, and why they were selected for publication. I try to. :)

I hope these tips will help you as much as they have helped me. Ps. As we all know, in the journey of writing a novel, these tips are only basic.Good luck.


Karlene Blakemore-Mowle said...

Excellent points Suz and very helpful to have a list on hand to refer to- it's never ending!

Eleni Konstantine said...

Great post Suzanne. Will definitely keep this in mind when getting to the polishing stage.

Mel Teshco said...

Suz, amazing how easily we can sleep into lazy writing! And that read back feature - sounds like a gem, will be sure to look into that one =)

Angelina Rain said...

Great advice. I should print it and keep it every time I edit. The other day, I got my first ever edits from an editor, and you have no idea how many times the editor found phrases like “was walking” or “was ---ing” I felt so stupid when I was rereading it.

Suzanne Brandyn said...

Thanks Karly, Eleni, Mel and Angelina for stopping by. I have a list of everything within quick grasp of my desk. lol. I need the constant reminding.
Angelina, we all have pet faults when writing so there's nothing to feel stupid about.
I use to always put, the effect then the cause, instead the other way around. lol. re: the example. But once I realised what I was doing it happens less often now. :)

Tami said...

OMG - these are great tips. I have a list of things that I search my MS for and I do the FIND function and replace them all. It's amazing how often you find you use them even when you know you SHOULDN'T.

Tarnya said...

Thank you so so much. I will use these at once. As for the talk back thingy I'm on to it. Thank you so much Suzanne. I needed a little help.
Tarnya. x

Kerri Williams writer of romance said...

lol- god bless bill gates.
great blog

Anonymous said...

Great informative post Suzanne.
Keep it up. We want more. lol

Jane. x