Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Still editing...does it ever end?

I’m still revising. Funny, I thought this book was nearly ready to ‘go’, but the more I look at it, the more I find to tighten and the more I tighten, the better it seems to be (to me anyway). I’ve chopped out a lot of names, as I said I was going to do, and not quite so many of my characters nod their heads then say ‘yes’ which, when you think about it, really is a waste of words.

Then I found this post on the Internet and started sweeping through the novel again. Sure enough, my characters ‘look’ and ‘turn’ and ‘feel’ on just about every page. So the scissors are out again. It’s not always easy to get rid of the ‘looks’ and ‘turns’, though it can be done and I’m getting most of them out. In fact, I’ve been concentrating so hard on it that yesterday, when P was listening to the cricket and the commentator said “Oh, he turned that ball nicely to the offside,” I thought ‘hit the ball? twisted the ball? manoeuvred the ball?’ before I realised it wasn’t my job to get rid of that particular ‘turned’. I’ve had people point out my use of these words before and thought maybe they were being over-picky. But reading it through, no they weren’t.

Having characters ‘feel’ things is a tricky one. I write in very close third person. So when I say something like ‘He felt the perspiration trickling down his neck’, I’m really wasting words and taking the reader out of the character’s head, which I don’t want to do. They’re supposed to be inside his head, so all they need to know is that the perspiration trickled down his neck. Saying it implies he felt it.

The same goes with him watching something. Eg. “He watched the man take the book off the shelf.” Obviously, if I say ‘The man took the book from the shelf”, I’m implying that my character watched him do it, because you’re in his point of view, so I wouldn’t be saying it if hadn’t seen it.

The word count is going down nicely. Obviously I don’t want to edit it down to nothing, or edit it so far it loses its flow, but there is still a lot I can do.

Back to work!


Stephanie Jones said...

Good one! When will we ever learn to quit writing POV verbs? Ah, long there's still editing. Really enjoyed the post as I'm struggling with this myself.

Kate said...

Thanks, Stephanie. I'm just going to have to learn to stop somewhere!

Anonymous said...

Interesting post. I have been reading a lot about editing lately. There is a book called The artful editing , by Susan Bell that you may find useful.

Gregory House said...

Okay I read your post, than I used the link and went off to view the 10 points. Ahh, well to be honest it wasn't very well laid out, as well as extremely confusing. All I got from that is this is an example of how 'this person' writes. While it is true that many word are over used in writing I am afraid this 'looks' a lot like a wish list similar to 'class rules'. Which of course we know will never be followed all of the time. Good luck anyway

Kate said...

Sorry Anon, I thought I'd answered you the other day. Thanks for the tip. I'll look it up.

Greg, pleased to meet you. I'm quite sure I'm not going to get out all the looks and turns etc, but I really do use them too much, so I don't think it a bad thing to go through one more time. But as you say, these things are only a wish list. I'll admit something else...sometimes I use adverbs! :o

Gregory House said...

Oh dear the dreaded adverb! Luckily I have my own 'inHouse' Uber editor to pull me into line. Apparenlty she even grudgingly admits I've improved with the 'proper' use of tenses and sentence structure. Though she still 'frowns'at my liberal application of commas. I know we all have to re edit (almost endlessly it seems) but on the internet you have to remember all 'advice' may not be equal or neutral. Over the past few years I've frequently found editing or publishing manuals that contradict each other. So look around and carefully weigh the suggestions.
Good luck anyway