The fun of editing

Well, I’m editing my book, Where the River Goes. It’s a rather long process, and I hope to have it ready to publish sometime this spring. Today I attempted a book blurb. That seems to me like one of the hardest parts of preparing a book for publication. I must write it over and over to get it right, and even then, I’m not sure about it.

I started the editing process by going through a long list of words to delete. Or to change for a different word. Or to change the structure of the sentence to make it sound better. Words like ‘that’, ‘just’, ‘like’, ‘then’, ‘that’ and ‘look’ seem to be sprinkled through my WIP like nobody’s business. It’s amazing when I type in a word in ‘Find’ on the Microsoft Word toolbar how many times I use the same filter words. Have to get rid of those pesky little rascals.

Other words like variants of ‘to see’, ‘to think’, ‘to watch’, ‘to seem’, ‘to notice’ and ‘realize’ are often guilty of taking the reader out of the head of the POV character, which is not good. You want the reader to stay with the POV character to keep them involved in the story. Don’t want to lose your reader, do you?

Another important step is to skim through the pages to see how many times I use a character’s name when I could use a pronoun. Wow! I do that way too often. I recently read a book that often uses the name of a character several times in one paragraph. Way too often. It bothers me as a reader, so I don’t want to be guilty of this.

The next step is to run the whole story, a chapter at a time, through the Hemingway app, which is a free program. This app points out the frequent use of adverbs and passive voice. It also tells you if your sentences are difficult to read and when a phrase or word has a simpler alternative. This is especially useful when a writer tends to use too many adverbs, or, like me, uses the passive voice too often.

Another app that can be helpful is Grammarly. As an English teacher, I don’t really like this app, but in some cases, it will catch errors for me like the wrong use of a word, a misspelled word, or a comma error. I often disagree with it, so I don’t always use it, but it does sometimes show me errors I have missed. It’s worth using most of the time. You can use the free app or pay a little for the premium which gives more details about sentence structure and other things.

Presently my book is with my first beta reader. This reader will look for plot holes, inconsistencies, and unrealistic scenes. If she notices any errors, she will note those as well. As an avid reader, she (my granddaughter who recently graduated college and has a career in marketing) is invaluable to me. She totally understands my need for complete honesty to improve my writing and make my book the best it can be.

Then I have two other beta readers who will read it to find errors, plot holes, ‘show, not tell’, and such. One is a retired English teacher, the other a librarian at a local public school, and both are writers. I would trust these people with my work any time. Their voluntary help is invaluable to me.

One of the best things I have done as a writer is to join a local writers’ group that meets monthly for critique sessions and other beneficial programs for writers. We encourage each other and celebrate the accomplishments of members. Sometimes we meet between monthly meetings for special critique sessions. We also attend conferences when possible and share information with others who can’t attend.

Isn’t writing fun?

Holiday writing

I sure am enjoying writing over the holidays! My novel is coming together nicely as I start working on the climax and nearing the end. I have to do some layering, going back to add scenes and amp up the plot. Some of my characters need added depth. I’m not sure they have a realistic balance of strengths and flaws to make them believable. Especially the MC.

I have to check descriptions. Probably I’ll have to add some. I’m sure I’ll have to add emotions to scenes. I always have a little trouble with that. I know I need more suspense. Wow, I have work to do! And I haven’t even started working on ridding the story of filter words, repetitions, passive voice and being verbs.

I’m hoping to finish the story in the next couple of months. Then to start edits before I submit it to beta readers. I’m happy that a couple of writer friends have volunteered to beta read it in addition to some others I have.

Here is a scene I wrote the other night. I’d love it if you’d make a comment about it.

A group of angry men gathered under a tree in the Johnsons’ yard. Anger boiled over onto the women who served meatloaf and scalloped potatoes. It boiled over onto rowdy children who played chase around trees and stumps and through and around the legs of the adults.

                “Wade, you said yourself we caint keep doin’ nothin’. Nobody else’ll help us. It’s up to us to fix things around here.”

                “You got that right, Josiah. I’m sick of the law ignoring us. They don’t care when it comes to river people.”

                Other piqued voices joined in and everyone was talking at once. A man near the center of the crowd raised his hand and shushes spread through the group until all was quiet.

“Pa Eli is speaking,” someone said. All eyes turned toward the small, grizzled man.

                “Folks, anger and bitterness will get us nowhere,” he drawled. Heads nodded, and he continued. “We gotta consider the truth, and we gotta have a plan.” He perched on a tall stump and contemplated his audience. “The truth is, people who got no rights are interrupting our lives and taking what’s ours. We’ve asked for help and got nothing. We gotta take matters into our own hands.”

                Fists pumped the air and affirmations articulated the mood. Once more, all grew quiet when Pa Eli opened his mouth. “One thing we gotta remember—people, good and bad, have value. We have to be careful to protect the innocent.” A long hesitation punctuated the importance of his statement.

“Our creator gave us soul to balance us. We have emotions to stir us, a will to move us, and a mind to guide us. We don’t need to get all riled up and act stupid. We have to use our brains to get us going in the right direction.”