Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thursday Thirteen # 4

Since I'm trying to revise my current manuscript, I thought it might be nice to outline the things I do when I'm going through my story. So in no particular order, I present you with...

Thirteen Things I do when I'm revising.

1. Grammar, punctuation, and spelling – Even tough this is something I should know without thinking about it, I still struggle. My first draft is usually pretty rough. I need to come back and fix all the words that are spelled correctly, but are the wrong word. I need to make sure my deliberate sentence fragments get the right message across. And I need to make sure I have all my commas in the right spot (I always use too many).

2. Weak vocabulary – I’m guilty. I hate the fact that these words come out so easy in the first draft. I primarily go through and pull out the following: just, that, nice, very, really, almost, never, etc. I have a great link that I’ve found to help identify these words.

3. Passive voice – Another one of my guilty writing habits. This is a hard one for me to see sometimes. I actually have my husband help me out. He’s a pro now. I’m actually studying up and am going to make a point of squashing this habit. I’ve also found another good link that may be helpful to you.

4. Add more narrative – I’m a dialogue person. As I’ve said to some of my fellow writers, I could write an entire first draft with nothing but dialogue and a few tags. Going back and adding narrative is something I enjoy doing in the second draft. I know where the story is going at this point, so it’s much easier.
>5. Plot inconsistencies – I have a tendency to drop plot threads as I get going. It’s one of the draw backs of being a seat-of-your-pantser. I can usually pick these up the second (or third) time around.

6. Check time lines – Again, I think this has to do with being a pantser. I don’t have a clear timeline in mind when I start, so things can get muddled as I get going. This is also easy to fix in revisions.

7. Things that make me go hummmm – In every manuscript I write, I always get to a sentence, paragraph, or heaven forbid, chapter that makes me question why I wrote it. These usually get cut.

8. Strengthen imagery – First drafts usually get the basic idea down. Revisions, I take the time to brighten things up. Take those black cars and make them faded black, 1992 Doge Neons.

9. Strengthen dialogue and tags – I don’t have too much to do here normally. But I want to make sure my characters aren’t sounding a like. I make sure my men say manly things, and my women come across appropriately. I also check my dialogue tags to make sure they work.

10. Layer in emotion – This goes along with the adding of narrative. I usually need to add a fair amount of introspection to give my characters depth. I find this is the hardest part of writing.

11. Setting details – Going back through and adding details to the rooms, environments, etc.

12. Character reality check – Are my characters acting in a believable way? Is there anything I need to change about them? With my story The Ties that Bind Us, I ended up changing my heroin’s job from a colony school teacher to the Chief of Security in the second draft. The things I had her doing didn’t make sense for a teacher.

13. – At the end of each draft I check the word count. Am I running too long or too short? It’s a bit of reality check.

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