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. Yikes! I’m afraid to look. I know I have them. But (and this is the amateur in me speaking) I don’t see the problem with them. They do not look awkward to me. Now that it is pointed out to me, I’ll develop a dislike to them.

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    1. After reading the whole post thread, it appears there is a fine line between acceptible and contemptible. Some of mine I think are all right.

      I know how you feel, sometimes I don’t want to read any more tips because I’m already overwhelmed.

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  2. Gasp!! There is so much to think about when writing. I’m going to go crazy!

    BTW, I just noticed that I’m reading your book for the audio version. LOL! I won’t hold you, or your publisher to that once you come to your senses, but I am flattered. 🙂

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    1. I know, Candice, most of the time I try to forget these rules and just concentrate on telling the story. I write it the way it makes sense to me to write it. Plus, I know what one editor can’t stand, another editor has no problem with.

      Oh, your lovely voice is perfect for Meredith … though you’d probably have a little trouble with streetwise Renee. 🙂

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  3. I’ll admit you got me thinking on this one. But I’ll agree with you, Linda when you say that most of the time you concentrate on telling the story and you write it the way it makes sense for you to write it. I think those are very wise words!

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  4. Jeez, I didn’t even know what this was, I use them all the time, and ….well, (insert curse here.)

    My only saving grace is that I’d started to use them less, because they felt awkward to me.

    I’m lost now.

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      1. I say no. I suppose you could say, “The only grace that saves me …” but that’s awkward. Though, if you consider “saving grace” a cliche well …. 🙂

        By the way, PPP’s can be grammatically correct, but stylistically in modern writing, they are considered weak, unsophisticated, expecially at the beginning of a sentence.

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    1. Note that the ladies at Edittorrent are talking about introductory PPP’s. They don’t feel as strongly about trailing ones. I’m not sure why … what the difference is, I mean. One of the dangers in using PPP’s is that you inadvertantly minimize the importance of an action. You say: “Seething with anger, she ran from the room.” You minimize “seething with anger” by placing it in a dependent clause. It’s stronger if you write: She seethed with anger and ran from the room.

      Sometimes a PPP is appropriate because two actions truly are happening simultaneously. “Falling off the cliff, he screamed.” But often a PPP indicates a physical impossibilty. “Pulling up a chair, he sat down.” Most people can’t move the chair and sit down in it at the same time. A stronger sentence would be: “He pulled up a chair and sat down.”

      Not to freak you out more, but “as” phrases are also supposed to be weak writing. Example: “As she drove to the theater, she thought about what she would do, if she saw Everett.” The powers that be suggest: “She drove to the theater. What would she do if she saw Everett there?” is stronger construction. This is a case, not of two impossible actions ocurring simultaneously, but of distancing the reader. It tells us what she was thinking about, instead of showing us her actual thought.

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  5. Is it a bad sign that I had to refresh my brain about PPPs so I would recognize them in my writing?

    I do think it’s useful in editing/rewriting to look for one thing at a time: edit 1 — checking for PPPs; edit 2 — checking for consistent dialogue quirks. There is a danger, however, of losing some of the flow when you do targeted editing. I find it useful to do a paragraph or two at a time, then go back and read them again as a whole.

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    1. Susan, yes, there are many levels to editing. The method you described is how I work as I’m writing my “first” draft. I am unable to move on to a new scene (sometimes a new paragraph) until I’ve re-read, edited, revised. And then the next day, I usually go back again over the previous day’s writing, so that by the time I finish the last chapter I don’t have so much editing to do. This is why you’ll never see me participating in NaNoWriMo! 🙂

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