Sunday, August 31, 2008

"Find"-ing Your Way Through Revisions

Just a quick tip for my fellow writers today:

Learn to appreciate the "Find" feature when you're revising your work. So often, we use the same words and phrasing for a good portion of our story. Using "Find" forces us to locate exactly how many times we've done that and rework the sentence (or image) to make it stronger. In my first-ever manuscript, one of my beta readers pointed out that my characters sighed a lot. When I did a search for "sigh," I discovered how right she was. Being forced to find another dialogue tag or body language action made my writing, and the individual characters, stronger.

"That" is another dangerous word. It often turns up as filler in a sentence and can be eliminated, tightening the phrasing. What about your descriptors of characters' appearances? Too often, writers will use a favorite term for, say, hair color. When it becomes over-used, you're going to pull your readers right out of the story. So check that too. I'm reviewing a story right now that has a decent plot, and the writing itself is pretty good, but the hero uses the same term of endearment for the heroine over and over again. While the author might be trying to make a point, I fear instead she's falling into the trap of not varying her word choice enough.

OK - that's my tip for today! I'm off to work on One Night in Napa. And yes, using the "Find" feature will be one of the ways I'll tackle it :)


Liz said...

My over-used words are... that and just. Godd luck on your revisions!

Marianne Arkins said...

I suffer from "it-itis"... But I don't worry about "it" in the first draft.

Still, I typically end up adding hundreds of words to a story simply by replacing "it" with a strong, descriptive noun. It makes the story much richer, IMHO.

Have fun with edits!

windycindy said...

Hope you are enjoying your holiday weekend! Cindi

Anonymous said...

I try to take out almost all my gasps.