Friday, August 17, 2007

A Few Revision Hints

I'm working on the rewrite of my YA novel, Plumber Gal. I thought I'd share a few rewrite hints that you might wish to translate to your own work.

1. Having trouble physically moving your characters through the scene? The cup of water was on the desk, then it's on the porch and then it turns into lemonade. (Oh, yes, this happens to me sometimes.) I now have a habit of making nifty maps and drawing sketches of the physical places that my characters visit. I also collect pictures that represent the various items in the setting. I have found this habit saves much time if my character returns to that particular place in another scene of the book or if there are setting errors in a scene.

2. Having trouble with the time-line? It's Monday when the package comes and the next day the character is in Japan -- uh how did she get that package if she was at the airport? Hey, I need a datebook to manage my life, and my book gets a calendar, too. I print out a journal calendar and fill out the timeline of the novel. Takes time to do, but saves time in the end.

3. Search for "-ly" in your manuscript. Use the "Find" feature in Word. Do you really absolutely need all those adjectives and adverbs? Expand this search to word abuse. Do you use the word "just" too much? Do characters "walk "everywhere? Search on these keywords and delete some of them and improve others. Your manuscript will thank you.

4. Want to see your manuscript in a new light? Change the margins and the font of your manuscript. This will help you see your manuscript with new eyes and find errors you literally weren't seeing.

These are some simple hints. I hope you find that your manuscript is buzzing.

I'm really against reinventing the wheel; here are some genius quotes from folks that have been there and done that:

I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English - it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don't let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them - then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.

Mark Twain


I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.

Truman Capote


I can't write five words but that I change seven.

Dorothy Parker


Editing should be, especially in the case of old writers, a counseling rather than a collaborating task. The tendency of the writer-editor to collaborate is natural, but he should say to himself, 'How can I help this writer to say it better in his own style?' and avoid 'How can I show him how I would write it, if it were my piece?'"

James Thurber


The most valuable of talents is never using two words when one will do.

Thomas Jefferson


This morning I took out a comma, and this afternoon I put it back again.

Oscar Wilde


Books are never finished, they are merely abandoned.

Oscar Wilde

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