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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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Shannon said...

It's great that you can self-edit. I have such a difficult time with it!

Have a great Thursday!

Katie S said...

Editing, gugh, editing! *lol* Thanks for the links - very helpful. I, too, tend to use way too many commas, and also, too many ...'s (a more recent habit), and also, I toss in a billion extra just, really, almost, etc. type words, too. Good to have links for helping!

Katie S said...

PS - Thanks for visiting my TT! (

Joely Sue Burkhart said...

Great list! On the last ms, I kept dropping a backpack. The character would have it -- and then it would mysteriously disappear. Doh! Happy TT!

Amy Ruttan said...

I'm a panster too! I'm starting revisions on NaNo today. I won't cut to much, just the prologue and some other tidbits ... but sshh it's a secret!

Angela James said...

You'd be surprised (or maybe not) at how many writers don't know about weak vocabulary. We (Samhain editors) have a document we send out to new authors to have them go over their manuscripts before editing begins, to help them learn some things to tighten their manuscript, like you've listed, and what I call "garbage" words is one of the biggest things they end up doing!

Chris-sea said...

I'm a comma girl too and definately these.....
I really enjoyed your list - gave me some food for thought.

My TT is up too.

Beth said...

As we say down South, Bless your heart!

Blogger comments go to my old blog ... new blog here

Candy Minx said...

Editing is where all the art of writing resides. Good for you interesting list.

I have many weaknesses on your list, but am often able to find them too. It's a weird practice isn't it? Weak vocabulary is tricky.

What kinds of books have you been reading for your own enjoyment lately?

I recommend a couple of things...they may not be your taste, but they are all excellent examples of different, original and powerful writing.

The first you've probably read in school, but itvery important and worth a re-visit. It's an essay by George Orwell, called POlitics and The English Language.
Here it is online. Every writer should read this at least a couple times during their life.

Then I also a recommend a New York writer who was trendy in the 80's City of Glass, by Paul Auster. It's "metafiction" ( and an interesting way to look at the novel and writing.

And the other Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. This might take you a week or two to read, but I believe it's one of the greatest novels written in the last 100 years. It is a western, written in a romance style, almost borouque. It is violent and that may be challenging...but it's really worth it.

If you decide to tackle Blood Merdian let me know and I'll read along with you and e-mail you. Try not to be put off by its gender preference, it's a "mans man" type of book. But it is exciting, political, adventurou and writing like you'll rarely have encountered. It will make you think.

Good luck loved these list today!


Trish Ryan said...

This is awesome! I'm editing my MS right now - thanks for these links!!!

Racy Li said...

Candy offered some awesome links! Good luck on the manuscript!

Jenny Ryan said...

Oh yeah, it's so easy to slip into that passive voice. My thing is sprinkling commas like weeds :)

Michelle said...

Yep, these are good. I find have a critique partner is what keeps me on my toes. I'm not so good with the self-edit. My CP on the other hand kicks butt. Course I can kick hers too so it's all fair! :-)

Caylynn said...

Neat list! Thanks for providing us with some insight into your revision process. Very interesting! And thanks for the link. :)

Have a good day. :)

Caylynn & Dragonheart

Colleen Gleason said...

That's a nice little checklist! I always have to go through and add in more description of setting, and sometimes, sense of smell/touch.

Wylie Kinson said...

Yup - your Number #3 point hit home with me!
Thanks for sharing your trade secrets :)

Unknown said...

Thanks for stopping by everyone!Candy Minx that is a great list and thank you for the resources. I will definitely check those out.

Shelby said...

yes happy editing... happy Thursday too.. take care:)

Darla said...

Good luck with the revising. I'm currently doing beta reading, and your list is actually quite helpful. I'm a whiz at 1, 2 & 5, passable at 12, and suck horribly at 6, 8, & 10. The others hadn't really occurred to me, so I'll now be keeping them in mind.

Heh. I'm sure the author will thank you when my feedback doubles in length. *snicker*

Angela/SciFiChick said...

Too funny. I just looked to see where you were from (re: your comment on my site).. my brother-in-law is from Nova Scotia too. I forget the name of the town, but I know it's in the middle of nowhere.. his parents are farmers I believe.
He's a little down that he and my sister wont make it back over Christmas this year.

Uisce said...

The passive voice is never used by good writers.

TopChamp said...

that's interesting. As a non-writing seriously type I find it interesting to see the processes you go through.. cheers!