Sunday, September 5, 2010

Making a list, checking it twice

As promised last week, I sat down and developed a timeline for my runaway novel. The action takes place over 10 years, so the character must grow in age as well as in wisdom. I found some chapters out of order and rearranged them -- something I might not have noticed until a final read-through, at which time I would have thought, "Oh no, back to the drawing board -- er, computer."

By checking page numbers, I also noticed that some chapters come close to 20 pages while others are around 10. The obvious solution is to lengthen the short ones or shorten the long ones. Remembering someone saying at a CRW meeting that any chapter over 20 pages is too long, I decided to cut the longer chapters in half. Now I need to put a hook at the end of these new chapters. More work.

The most important thing I did was to sign up for Eliza Knight's on-line workshop, "Edit Your Book in a Month." I spent most of yesterday afternoon using the "search" tool to see how many times I had used certain overused words. I used "just" 285 times in 400 pages, and quit counting after 33 pages when "as" showed up 100 times.

Asked to search for our favorite word, I chose "well" as in "Well, I just wanted to say ..." or "She knew very well that ..." Well turned up 194 times and I hadn't even realized I was using it!

I guess I have my work cut out for me eliminating useless words, weak verbs and words that end in "ly." It will be worth it if I end up with a stronger story that won't cause an editor to toss it aside after the first, "Well, I just..."

1 comment:

  1. Good work, Sandy! It's a huge undertaking, but it has to be done.