For just over a week, I have been taking a leisurely wallow in the quicksand way at the back of my editing cave. It is so easy to get sucked in to revising, editing, and – my personal favourite – tweaking.
I have been revising and flinging bad, bad words from my under-contract story (title tbc) like a crazy woman. CRAZY, I tell you! And it’s a vicious circle. The more words I removed, the more I needed to remove or add in to keep my original meaning. I also began to question myself. On my hunt to irradicate ‘ly’ words (adverbs are baaaaaad!) I started to question myself and the things I thought I knew, like: is ‘initially’ a bad word, or is it just a word with the misfortune to end in ‘ly’?
I dreamt in words I shouldn’t taint my document with. My biggest crime ended up being gratuitous over-use of the word ‘just’, I think. But I second place might have been ‘so’. Of course, there will always be the trio of mischief ‘that’, ‘had’, ‘was’ – and they are tricky to work out. A lot of times, the sentence can read okay without ‘had’ or ‘that’, but what if it doesn’t? And what if I accidentally alter the tense of my sentence? How far did I plan to go to replace them? Rewrite whole sentences? Paragraphs?
It would be a lie to say seeing so many errors or highlights didn’t prickle just a little – but not necessarily because I thought every word out of my fingers was already perfect. More because I couldn’t believe I sent it away in such an rough state. A rude awakening in some respects, but a fantastic opportunity to dive back in with my red pen at the ready.
I have finished my first batch of edits a little wiser, though, I hope, and I know how to do better self editing, now, too. Before I submit anything anywhere ever again (she says) I will hunt for the following (and this is not an exhaustive list, by any means):
adverbs – do I need them, or do I like them?
filtering – heard, looked, etc.
Also, word repeats. Some scenes are trickier than others. I find any scenes with hands tricky – there aren’t many synonyms for hands, and I also find any scenes that talk about mouths or lips difficult as those are usually the only two words that make sense there, too.
I’m also on Decadent Publishing’s Beyond Fairytales Blog today, so please do go and visit me there, as well.