Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Pernickety Edit - jump in!

Great idea from SS@S - I'm posting my editing checklist here. This is the general version, if I'm writing in dialect I have a few more things I need to check, but this is the one I go through pretty much all the time. I'm more guilty of some things than others - to take the first list of non-words, for example, I don't think I ever use ''quite", but all my manuscripts are scattered with "just"!

If you have a similar list, please post it in the comments, or let me know if there is anything you think is missing, then I'll try and put together a version that combines everything. Or, if you strongly disagree with anything, I'd be interested in knowing that too. NB - some of these words and phrases are essential at times - don't take 'em out if it don't make sense or it really is the best option - on the other hand, coming up with alternatives for your own 'automatic drive' can liven up your writing - and cut literally thousands of words of unnecessary padding out of your writing.

Here goes...

Delete that and very! Strip out: really, all, big, little, small, many, some, here, a lot, just, quite, yes, no, a bit, now, maybe.

Take ‘suddenly’ out of all narrative; and ‘for a moment’ everywhere.

Waste of space: especially, however, probably, thankfully, so, of course, in fact, anyway (as a transition rather than a modifier), rather, somewhat, all too often, after all, only, obviously, usually, at least, even so, no idea, for some reason.

Beware of words that don't mean much: seem/ed to be, appear/ed to be, really, actually, keep/kept on, almost, have/had to, go and/went and, used to, finally, eventually. Use punchier verbs.

Watch for ‘something’, ‘everything’ and ‘thing’!

Delete ‘was’/’is’ ‘were’/’are’ and replace with a strong action verb.

Delete adverbs –ly – use very sparingly.

Drop parentheses and excessive ellipses (…)

Close third person - watch out for verbs that distance the POV from close third person – viewpoint intrusion - e.g. ‘hear’/’heard’, ‘see’/’saw’, ‘notice’/’noticed’, ‘look’/’looked’ – ‘feel/felt’ – ‘watch/watched’ look out for ‘could’ – it often signals these. i.e. not ‘I could see the clouds…’ but ‘The clouds…’ NB also – ‘She looked sad’ – why? Better to show this – ‘tears glinted in her eyes’ etc.

Close third person again - also watch out for ‘thought’ – it may not be necessary. Use only if confusing. Report thoughts as if in the first person – use the character’s voice/tone etc. to make it clear that they are thoughts. (e.g. whiney, if a whine!) Also: realised, decided, supposed, remembered, contemplated, mused, guessed, imagined, figured, reckoned etc. Similarly ‘wondered’ (try turning the thought into a question).

Telling instead of showing: look out for ‘like’, ‘as if’ and ‘seemed’ i.e. ‘the puppy seemed afraid’ – show it ‘the puppy quivered in his arms’

Delete ‘began’, ‘started’, ‘was starting’, ‘was beginning’, ‘going to’ unless essential – distances from the action e.g. ‘she began to do s’th’ – just have her do it!

Are all five senses in use? (colour code description according to sense to check the balance).

Go back and delete all clich├ęs.

Look out for –ing words – e.g. is someone locking the door while sprinting? Is it possible?! Check all very carefully.

Proofread for repeated words – e.g. stop/stopped.

Delete ‘he said’ ‘she said’ as far as possible. Show who is speaking via action instead.

There was, there is, there are, there were, it was, it is are often superfluous. Toss them if you can.

F&R while and as if they make dialogue tags work overtime – e.g. Not: ‘Are you coming?’ said Jennifer as she climbed the fence, but: Jennifer swung a leg over the fence. ‘Are you coming?’

Also dialog, ‘No,’ Jim said, rather than ‘No,’ said Jim.

Watch for too many sentences starting with ‘he’/’she’/’they’ and repeated names.

F&R double spaces.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

McKoala lives!

Although recovery is tedious, I have been able to drop the nanna naps in favour of reading and...tarantara...doing a pernickety edit on WiW. I'm fine as long as I pace myself. Was hoping to go back to work tomorrow, but I think working from home may have to suffice, and may also allow me to continue some work on WiW - 2000 needless words cut out and counting.

I think I've talked about the pernickety edit before. It's when I use find and replace to go through the entire manuscript and look for weasel words that just don't need to be in there. I have a loooong list of offences: phrases, words and even part words. It takes days, sometimes weeks to do this edit properly, so I leave it as close to the end of the process if I can - because if I do any major rewrites, I make myself do it again. Hoping I haven't jumped the gun this time, because two betas are still reading. However, if I make changes, I think I already know where it's going to happen, so I should be able to do a miniature pernickety edit on that section.

I might just browse round the koala victims later today to see if you are all being as virtuous as I am.

Reading: I read Stephen King's 'Under the Dome'. Hm. Slightly disappointing work from The Master this time. Has anyone else read it?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

In which McK wallows in self-pity

That laryngitis I've got? Not laryngitis. Probably pneumonia. No wonder I've been feeling so dreadful.

McK's fightback against the germs has ended and she is now doing just what the dr says. Taking a few days off work, swigging the antibiotics and rest. Off for a nice nanna nap now.

See you in a few days with my 500-word escape from smackdown shame.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ah, your little cruelnesses

Whirl advocated silence, WW advocated not eating chocolate, but as we know these things are impossible and thus deeply unfair. However, JJdB said: "Her Koalaness shall write a coherent 500 word essay on any subject provided she does not use the letter 'i'. Also, she shall hunt up three internet links that include music and someone wearing the colour orange.

His Trollishness shall write a coherent 1000 word essay on any subject provided he does not use the words 'the' or 'a' ('an' is allowed.) Also, he shall hunt up three internet links that involve cats running in to things."

Trollish wit led to a slight modification of his punishment. Goblins are suckers for blandishments, unlike Koalas. I didn't see any modification of my punishment. Rank favouritism. However, coming up soon, 500 words without an 'i'. As for music and oranges, do they really go together?

Thanks for reporting in, updating stats. Janey's off Smackdown! Yay!

And I came second in WW's contest, but I think most of you know that. Thanks to all who voted for me!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Updating the bar!

I'm chasing your results down, oh Koala fans, so watch out.

Now, here's a question. I am on Smackdown. As you know, I issue writing punishments to those who are on Smackdown. I considered giving myself some test of pain and suffering, such as eat a bar of chocolate and watch tv every night for a week, but then thought, no, unfair!

What writing punishment should The Koala have to experience?

And if I were to feel like releasing BT from Supersmackdown, what should he have to do first?

Remember, I'm watching you at all times... In particular, Whirl and Sylvia - dropped down for underreporting. Janey, still on Smackdown, although I know you're doing NaNo and suspect you've written yourself up a level by now. Report in!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Publisher's Marketplace

The late, great Miss Snark would slay me with her stiletto if she read this, but my Publisher's Marketplace membership is about to expire, and I'm thinking I may just cancel. I feel I'm not using it, other than to receive the detailed updates and, to be honest, the plain old free updates would probably be fine for me.

It's not that I don't want to be published, it's just that I want to save money and right now this just seems like a waste of it. But, before I kill the membership, am I missing something? Should I be using it in some way that I'm not? i.e. do you have a membership, do you love it, and why?!

Um, yup, must update that sidebar, but FYI, I'm still smacking myself down. Daily.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Writtenwyrdd's competition is on!

Entries went up today! Pour yourself a coffee/tea/large gin and settle in for a read. There are 21 entries in total, the longest around the 1000 word mark.

Good luck to all the entrants and happy reading to everyone else.