Advice, Editing, Fiction, Novel, Revision, Tips, Writing

Once more, from the top …

editingIf you recall, last Monday I promised myself I wouldn’t touch my manuscript for a week. I made it six and a half days. It was a long six and a half days. I thought a lot about my book. I felt lost without it. I was anxious.

Then, I read a blog discussion at Edittorrent about introductory present participial phrases being the mark of an amateur writer. I didn’t even have to look. I was horrified, embarrassed, and knew I wouldn’t make it until this morning. I was guilty of the use of PPP’s and couldn’t wait to banish them from my manuscript.

Last night, I began the first stage run-through. I found two commas in bizarre places, a fragment of a sentence (an artifact from a previous edit) but, so far, only a couple PPP’s. Not nearly as many as I had imagined. Still …

So, today I continue on this pass, correcting any grammar and syntax errors, which distract me from simply reading. While writing this novel, I’ve kept a list of “things to check.” Some of these are general, such as keeping each of my characters’ speaking patterns and word choices consistent, but specific to my story is Jalal’s limited use of contractions, so I have to watch for that.

Because I’ve written this novel in close third point of view, I also have this note to myself: “Limit the use of saw, heard, and thought to keep deep in viewpoint. Also check for words like felt, thought, wondered, realized… they are usually distancing.”

I have many more things to keep in mind as I edit, but when I’m done with this run-through, I will print it out again and put my first layer of polish on. I will search for perfect words to replace almost-but-not-quite words. I will look for places to add details to make this manuscript sing. And then … I will seek feedback from beta readers and start once more, from the top.

19 thoughts on “Once more, from the top …”

  1. I think I’m ok on the PPP’s, but limiting distancing phrases had fallen to the bottom of my list of “notes to self” – thanks for the reminder.

    Glad to hear you made it six and a half days. 😉


    1. I’m happy to say, so far, I don’t have as many PPPs as I “remembered” I did, so that’s good. Still, so many things to check for. I wish there was a “find and replace” magic pen.


  2. Oh good grief. Stop it Linda! You’re scaring me with all of these rules you’re finding. I think perhaps poetry is the safest venue for me. Unless there is a laundry list of poetic no-no’s out there too. Is there? No-wait–don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.

    I am no expert, no editor, but I am a reader. I don’t notice these things when I am engrossed in a good book with a fascinating plot or subject matter. Is there ever a point when good technical writing comes at the expense of losing your voice and style?


    1. Oh, absolutely there’s that point. I’ve opened many books that were grammatically perfect, the story idea was interesting, but the voice so boring I couldn’t read it. I’ll try to avoid going that far. 🙂

      And yes, stay away from poetry rule books, or we won’t see another beautiful work from you for ages.


  3. Yes. Rules can be frustrating when editing. I am not there quite yet, but last I was, I had a giant board with all the rules and regulations thumb tacked on. I am hoping that by now most of it is second nature.


  4. Hey, you should check out the AutoCrit Editing Wizard. It finds those PPPs and a whole bunch of ‘amateur’/’first draft’ writing problems.

    It really helps me sharpen my writing.


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