Monday, February 2, 2015

Rinse, Repeat

rinse-repeatNo, I’m not going to talk about shampooing your hair.

I’m using the slogan, and image, as an analogy, as it applies to writing. Or rather the editing process.

Some writers dread editing their completed rough draft. They enjoy the freedom—and fun—of just letting the words flow. But when it comes time to start rewriting . . .

I am what they call a pantser. I don’t lay out a plot. I don’t even know my characters very well at the start. I have a vague idea for the plot/story, and my main character in mind, usually with a name. I may do a little brainstorming in a blank document, but mostly I just start writing and let the story, and characters, take me wherever it, and they, want to go.

But, unlike other writers, I do enjoy the rewriting process. Some of the things I need to watch out for::

  • Adverbs: They’re weak writing, but way too easy to let slip in. At least I find it so in my own writing. There’s always a better, and stronger way to phrase that sentence.
  • She, or He: I’m so guilty of this. I start way too many paragraphs that way. “He nodded.” “She smiled.” Choosing to do that, I need to be very clear about who she/he is, especially in lengthy dialog. Even more so if several people are in the scene. I don’t want my readers scratching their heads, asking “Who said that?” I’ve been called on that many times. I need to make sure it’s clear who is speaking, or to whom I am referring.
  • Run-on sentences: I like short, snappy sentences, but sometimes I’ll find a section where I got too carried away.
  • Repetitions: As I am writing, I sometimes forget I’ve already said something earlier in the manuscript.  ‘Wait, didn’t I just write about that earlier?’
  • Pet words: I’ve caught myself using a few favorite words too often.
  • Fifty-dollar words: I love words. Words are my friends. And I like big words. But I need to be careful I’m not using a word my reader has to run to a dictionary to find out what it means.
  • Telling vs. showing: That’s a big one, and all too easy to fall into, because its easy.
  • Anton Chekhov

    “Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

    Anton Chekhov

So, rewriting and editing is a lot like shampooing:

  • Lather: Write that first draft
  • Rinse: Reread what’s been written
  • Repeat: Rewrite

Thanks for visiting.a


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