Wednesday, September 12, 2007


In days 8-11 I reached 30,000 words in the ms. (The first three chapters are pretty much finished) All I'm doing now is tweaking here and there and polishing. Nit picky kind of stuff. Proofreading. I distanced myself from the story every other day in order to be able to read scenes with a fresh eye. Then I went back through and checked for:
1. Passive sentences. Changed them to active. (For instance, "He was stricken with..." became "...struck him."
2. Places I slipped from Deep POV
3. Places I've told instead of shown (nearly the same as the above).
4. Places the story dragged.
5. Places I needed to put a proper name in place of a pronoun. Going back and making sure every "he, she, her, him, his," etc. refers to the last spoken name.
6. Reworking any sentences that contain indeterminate "Its," etc.
7. Looked for repetitive phrasing. Made sure I didn't use the same word or words too close together in passages.
8. Seek and destroy overused words such as "So" and "Gaze." My characters are gazers and grazers. LOL! I mention eyes and food a LOT! Probably because I'm fasting from some type of food and media when I'm churning out a rough draft. LOLOL!  
9. Checked the chapter, paragraph and sentence construction. Broke up or shortened any long passages. Made sure every sentence I'd placed on a line by itself NEEDS to be that way for maximum impact.
10. Made sure I haven't overused dashes, ellipses, exclamation points, etc.
11. Made sure I could envision the scene and setting. That I knew where the characters were in any given section.
12. Made sure I've used all the senses to enrich setting/sensory detail without going overboard. Sparingly added a few tactile words, smells, taste, sounds.
13. Read portions aloud to make sure nothing snags or drags.
14. Made sure dialogue is snappy and realistic.
15. Broke up run ons.
16. Made sure my characters have come through the way I intended them.
17. Made sure I maintained tension and conflict throughout. For instance, I upped the stakes again in this layer by having heroine not only need to get to a job, but have her boss be a Meany and tell her if she's not there by Tuesday he's not keeping the spot for her. Not only is the doctor not releasing her if he thinks she's going to skip town, her car is in the shop. Or maybe I'll have it impounded first so she really doesn't know how she's going to make it there. At this point, her scene goal (which is a step toward her story goal) is to make it to Missouri by Tuesday because (she thinks) everything hinges on her getting this job. You and I know God has different plans for her, but she's not to a point where she recognizes that yet.
18. Made sure I've not violated POV. For instance in a scene in Ben's POV, I must have forgotten because I had Hayyven have a fleeting thought. He can't know her thoughts.
19. Made sure my characters' goals and motivations are coming clearly across. And that conflict is already rampant. LOL! 
20. Cut down on overuse of introspection (a BIG weakness!) and internal monologue.
21. Made sure I didn't use a dialogue tag (he said) if I've already used an action beat (something the character does.) You don't need to use both. Beats can effectively show who is speaking.
22. Made sure I didn't start too many sentences with the same word in close proximity. For instance, on one page, I'd started the paragraph sentences out with "Ben.." or "She" and not much else. So I changed one of the "She's" to "Hayyven" and switched a couple of Ben's sentences so the dialogue came before the action beat since the reader could tell who was speaking due to the stint being on a line by itself. Every time a new person talks, it needs a new paragraph.
23. Made sure I didn't stay in a particular scene too long, and that the pacing is on target. To do that, I don't stop and edit...just read straight through and don't stop for anything. In fact, that's what I always start my writing sessions out doing. Read through what I've written to check for flow, pacing, coherency, clarity, succinctness, etc.
24. Made sure I haven't added in too many names or people for readers to have to keep up with. Condense and cut where you can.
25. Made sure I didn't refer to anything in previous books that will confuse readers who haven't read the previous books. Though this story is part of my Wings of Refuge series, it should also be able to stand alone so readers coming in in the middle of the series won't be confused or have to have read the previous two books to figure out what's going on in case my editor acquires this story.
26. Did a Seek and Destroy of all Taboo Terms. For a list of these, go to Steeple Hill has a conservative readership, so there is a list of terms and scenarios they have deemed off limits. Taboo Terms is their word for that list. For instance, I had a character say, "That totally sucks." I changed "sucks" to "stinks." I don't think sucks it's on the Taboo list but it occurred to me that phrase in its entirety has obscene roots. Only when most of us say it, we don't think of it in the sexual context. We just mean it as...that stinks. But some readers might be offended, so be mindful of that if you write for or are targeting a house that caters to a more conservative readership.
27. Made sure I haven't left any gross or graphic images in reader's mind.
28. Forgot to mention right off the bat that I always, always, always pray before I type one word or put my fingers to the keys. I ask God to order my day and to help me strengthen my story. He always comes through with a poignant image, etc. that I can then add to make the story emotionally compelling.
29. Made sure I have an equal balance of dialogue verses narrative.
30. Tweaked chapter length.
31. Made sure all my characters' reactions are believable and that nothing is coming across as jerkish, whiny, immature, unlikable, or contrived.
32. Made sure it's clear who is speaking at all times.
33. Made sure I haven'tt repeated anything. Another weakness. LOL!
34. Made sure I've used the correct names for places in town that were mentioned in books one and two. Such as Refuge Community Church, and Faith Elementary, etc.
35. Made sure secondary characters haven't stolen the spotlight from my hero or heroine.
36. Made sure nothing plot wise or subplot wise has overshadowed the romance. That needs to be front and center.
37. Made sure my hero and heroine are meeting/interacting as soon as possible in the story.
38. Made sure nothing goes on too long or too short scene wise or conversation wise.
39. Made sure I've italicized sparingly and only during direct thoughts or prayers.
40. Made sure I haven't overused "was" and any time I could, replaced a stronger verb there. Especially cut down on the use of "was" in conjunction with an "ing" verb. Most times the prose is stronger if you can replace the "ing" verb with an "ed" verb. An example would be to change "He was sprinting" to "He sprinted"
41. Made sure I haven't misused any wrong words my spellchecker might have missed. For instance I might slay something I really don't mean. See? Spellcheck will only pick out misspelled words, not misused ones. LOL! It wouldn't have flagged "slay." Those are the things you'll hopefully find on  proofreads.  
There's much, much more but I'm out of time right now. More another day.


Cheryl Wyatt   Gal. 2:20   Pouring my vial of words over Him.

A SOLDIER'S PROMISE~ Steeple Hill Love Inspired~ Jan. 2008
A SOLDIER'S FAMILY~ Steeple Hill Love Inspired~ Mar. 2008


Patricia W. said...

Funny, I blogged about the same topic today but your list is much more comprehensive, and I'm still working on the first draft.

I bookmarked your list for future reference.

Hope Chastain said...

That's a GREAT list! Exactly what I need to do with EVERYTHING!!!!!
*eyes crossed* Thanks!

~Ley said...

Amen to that Hope!

Sharlene MacLaren said...


Seriously, good idea for me to copy and paste these editing suggestions to a document and print them off for future reference.

Thanks for taking the time.


Robin Caroll said...

You so make me tired just reading this, woman! LOL