Re-Write Right

Re-Write Right

Re-Write Right

I have been crazy busy lately. With PitchWars now open to submissions, (Until Wednesday Aug.29th) I have submitted, and that is now off my plate of things to do/worry about. Not that I was up at night worrying or anything, but it was on my long list of stuff to get done.

I haven’t had much time to write lately, not that I’m a fast writer, I’m hoping to find some time to work on a project that has been patiently waiting while I prepped for PitchWars and through the re-write.

I want to talk a bit about re-writing and how it’s different from revisions and editing.

Editing is the process of correcting grammar, sentence structure, tone/voicing, errors and the little mistakes that hide within the words.

Revising is the process of altering sentences, paragraphs and chapters even to correct story errors, plot holes, character flaws or even add to the story by writing in better dialogue, scenes or descriptions. I’ll often be on a roll with writing and not want to stop and describe something like the desk or the room, and I’ll put [describe desk] or [describe room] so that I can go back and add the descriptions when I’m revising. Sometimes if I know something isn’t working and I want to come back to it I’ll mark it with XXX or *** that way I see and remind myself I wanted to look closer at that text.

Are Editing and Revising different? Yes, can they be done at the same time? Of course. I do both together all the time. I’ll often go through a document with a secondary grammar/spell check program such as Grammarly, and then I’ll use the search and replace feature of my word program to highlight issues. I’ll highlight Filter words, LY (for adverbs, there is no way to highlight the whole word, so ly works just fine.) I’ll highlight ING, and words I use far too often such as but, or perhaps. With them highlighted I can address them as I revise.

A Re-Write of a book is different from Editing and Revising but encompasses both. Re-writing can be done however an author wants. They can read a paragraph and wing it. I couldn’t do that myself, I like what I wrote the first time and don’t want to confuse myself. I like to do a line by line re-write. That can be one sentence at a time, one paragraph, block of dialogue, or even a chapter.

What I do.

I will have two documents. (original is saved as a 1st draft.) The first is a copy of the original that needs to be re-written. The second is a blank document formatted correctly. I will copy a segment from the original(taking note of word count if I’m striving for lower numbers and change that segment on the copy to say, purple.) Then I’ll paste it into the new document as plain text, so it’s black.

Then I will read each line carefully, in an attempt to get the most from a sentence. Then once I’ve removed crap sentences, written cleaner sentences and checked for repetition, I will highlight the new segment(take note of new word count.) and I’ll change it to say light grey. Then I’ll repeat by copying the next bit(change it to purple on the copy) then paste as plain text to the new document.

What’s the point of changing the color you ask? Good question. It keeps my place in my original document, and I can clearly see what I’ve done. Same on the new document. If I have to leave halfway through a paragraph, I want to come back and know if it’s done or not. Why in different colors? I personally like the documents to look different even though one is a work in progress and obviously different. It just makes me feel better to see the difference.

What’s the point of noting the word count? Whether I’m looking to beef up my word count or bring it down, keeping track is fun and useful. With this one, I’m striving to bring it down. So with each segment, if I can have it lower than the original, I’m winning. If it’s longer, I can take a closer look. They aren’t always lower, but I strive to bring the count down with each segment. I also have a handy dandy spreadsheet where I track chapter by chapter. Once I’m done re-writing a chapter, I will track the original chapter’s word count against the new re-write. I also have it configured to tell me the total words removed ‘thus far’ and a countdown to my goal word count. This helps me stay on task with a clear goal in mind.

My last post was about some messy sentences that needed to be fixed with some examples. Popping Inflated Sentences, I’ll revisit this idea once I have some more examples to share. For now, it’s back to the re-write.

My advice about re-writing
Sit on the work for at least 3 weeks before attempting a re-write. The longer, the better. 1-3 months or longer even. This will let you reset your brain, so when you go back, you have fresh eyes. I know some will say “Nah, I can do it right away.” You probably can’t. Trust me, this advice exists for a reason. At least write something new or read a book before tackling a re-write. 

-Sheryl

 

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Incorrect Verb Form – Style #3

Incorrect Verb Form

I had a count of 127 errors in Style. If you missed a previous blog, you can click on the purple link here that is crossed out to see that blog post.

Within STYLE are the following issues I had in my story:

1. Unclear Antecedent .
2. Capitalization at the start of a sentence .
3. Incorrect Spacing .
4. Incorrect Spacing with punctuation .
5. Incorrect verb form
6. Inflated Phrase
7. Wordiness
8. Nominalization

Incorrect verb form.

I’m not going to explain this clearly on my own, this is directly from Grammarly’s explanation:

“The subjunctive mood is the verb form used when expressing a wish, demand, suggestion, or making a statement that is contrary to fact. Certain verbs (such as advise, ask, command, desire, insist, propose, recommend, suggest, and urge) and certain adjectives (such as crucial, desirable, essential, important, and vital) signal the subjunctive mood.
In most cases, the subjunctive form is the bare (root) form of the verb. Is and are become be. Runs will become run. In the past tense, was becomes were.”

This is one small mistake I make that is most often found in the dialogue. If my character has poor grammar or uses a lot of jargon or slang I might leave it in. However, this character is educated so the assumption is that she would use proper grammar. Why did I make this mistake? Probably because it’s common for people to say was instead of were.

verb1Grammarly was kind enough to tell me what the correction is with the was → were option. All I have to do is click on the green and it changes it automatically for me. Easy peasy.

“If I were going to ruin your laptop doing this I wouldn’t have used it.”

This next one is in the narrative so I would fix it for certain. The narrative is not the place for slang, jargon, or local grammar quirks.
verb2

It was unnerving, even if he weren’t a cop it would make me nervous.

In this situation, I missed these two on my own proofreading. They were the only two incorrect verb forms in my book. Errors like these are easy to pass over because I wrote them and they don’t stand out to me. Have I mentioned I’m not a professional editor?

My advice about incorrect verb form:

Have someone else proofread or use a program specific for grammar. I’m not paid by Grammarly to talk about the program, it’s the one I researched, and I tried and loved the free version before paying for it. Whatever program you use or if you hire a professional, it or they should catch these camouflaged errors.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved
Assumption

The Editing Dead End

The Editing Dead EndWell I know I’ve been MIA for a bit, life is unexpected and full of… well life. I have been editing my new book Prophecy Ink, and I have to say it’s fun and frustrating all at the same time. I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday and New Year.

I have taken the editing for Prophecy as far as I can on my own and with Microsoft word’s ‘help’ (that’s a loose term it’s limited)

I feel as if I hit a dead end. I know there is work needed to it so what to do?  I started looking at editing programs as a live human one is still way outside my budget. After months of research and thinking it over I decided on Grammarly. Now I’m not being paid to talk about it, and this is not a product review in any ‘professional’ sense.

It is the program I’ve decided to use and therefore I will show some of its features, benefits and cool things I’ve encountered so far. It is a big program. I will focus on one or two things at a time. For now, I’ll explain what it is.

Grammarly is a live program that you download to your computer. It can run in windows, which will check online documents like blog posts and emails. It can also be run in word documents or on the Grammarly site itself.  In a word document, it appears as a tab when you click “enable Grammarly.”

The free version is a bit limited but still extraordinarily helpful for blogs, emails and word documents.  It offers the following:  Contextual spelling, Grammar and Punctuation.

I hesitated and tried out the “free” version for months before paying for the full version. It is pricey.  With the full or “premium” version you have access to all things shown in the tab below.

grammerly what it does

As you edit, those little red numbers drop. If while writing you make a mistake it lets you know by highlighting. This far, I have found the program to be easy to navigate and user-friendly.

I’m excited to use this program to polish my manuscript further and will break it down and show just how much it goes beyond what is built into the usual “word processing” program such as Microsoft office.

My advice about The Editing Dead End.
If you feel stuck and know it’s not perfect yet, search for programs that might suit you. Or if your budget allows, find an editor or copy editor to take a crack at your work. Turn that dead end into another fruitful path to take. 

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved

Identical

A Lot To Think About

A Lot To Think About

Finally, I have finished the latest read through of Prophecy(Working title). Now that the story is fresh in my mind, I’m going back to add the little details I know I left out. Armed with notes from myself and from some revisers I’m ready to beef up the story.  What a fun thing to be able to do. I spent countless hours slimming up BiaAtlas because that story is a long one, that it’s a totally different experience to have room to embellish.

I re-highlighted my filter words as I explained in Well colour me silly, I was pleased to find most of them are now at an acceptable level thanks to my last revision.

I revise in a step by step process. It’s probably not efficient but it works for me. I focus on one task at a time so I don’t get horribly distracted or miss things I shouldn’t miss. There is a lot to think about when revising and editing. Sometimes it can feel or become overwhelming. Which is why I break it down.

The things I focus on individually are:

  • Filter Words
  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • Chapter Structure
  • The little details

I will highlight the filter words for all my read-throughs to see if I can find a better way to structure the sentence without them. Sometimes I can and sometimes I can’t.

Then there are the broader things I do and try to keep in mind on every read through

  • Story flow
  • Foreshadows
    • Major in story foreshadows
    • Major or minor sequel foreshadows 
    • Minor character or side story foreshadows
  • Continuity
    • Clothing
    • Appearance
    • Object continuity as mentioned in my post Where did it go?
    • Character quirks
    • Timeline 
    • Seasonally appropriate references as mentioned in Tulips in July
  • Chapter length and structure (I will get into this in more detail another time.
  • Conversation flow
    • Is it believable?
    • Does it flow?
    • Is it engaging or fluff?
    • Can it be narrative instead of dialogue?
  • Is everyone present? As in did anyone disappear? Like I talked about in Who are you again? 

There is a lot to think about and I’m sure I’ve missed a point or two. Regardless I have a process and it works for me.

My advice about all the things to think about while revising
Find a method that works for you and stick to it. Don’t be afraid to try new methods, but don’t ever let anyone dubious or otherwise tell you that your method is wrong. 

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Dubious

Dashing Dashes

This will be the last re-post as my Vacation time winds down.  I picked this one at random, for no reason whatsoever.

Dashing Dashes

I recently mentioned the use of ellipses. Used in dialogue sometimes they are erroneously used in place of what should actually be a dash.

What’s the difference? Good question.

Ellipses… are three consecutive dots that generally indicate words, sentences or entire sections are being left out.

Dashes – indicate dialogue, speech or something is being interrupted or cut off. A dash is the punctuation. No periods, question marks or exclamation points are used.

Example time:

The tone is set by punctuation.

Dale crossed his arms and scowled. “I don’t think…”

“No, you don’t think Dale. That’s the entire problem.” Scott waved his hand dismissively at Dale. 

In that example, Dale comes across unsure or hesitant. That is not the tone I want to portray. Let me try again with a dash.

Dale crossed his arms and scowled. “I don’t think-”

“No, you don’t think Dale. That’s the entire problem.” Scott waved his hand dismissively at Dale. 

I wanted Scott to cut Dale off rudely. Scott is slipping and I want his rude factor to go up. With Ellipses, Scott was just mean-ish. With a dash, he was both rude and mean.

In some circumstances, I’ll make the cut off more obvious.

Amber handed Rachael the Envelope. “I need you to go down to-”
Rachael flicked her hand cutting Amber off. “I know where to take the Quill Company proofs.” She snatched the paper from Amber’s hand.

I just love making mean people mean. In Rachael’s case, she has just cause to dislike Amber and be short with her. Both Amber and Rachael’s lifestyles, attitudes and personalities conflict. Not all cut off’s are a personality flaw, in this moment Rachael is annoyed with Amber, she’s not usually rude in this manner.

Some programs such as *Word or *Microsoft Office don’t allow dashes in dialogue. When this happens I leave the punctuation out, cap it off with the quotation mark and manually go back to add the dash.

“I think we should-“  “ mark is curled the wrong way!  Ugh. Word automatically does this and it drives me bonkers. I go back and fix it manually.
“I think we should”   “I think we should-”

Maybe I’m missing a setting or something, maybe not. I’ll probably end up looking into it. While this manual fix is not efficient, it works for me. Like with all good things I would probably pick one character that might lean on this rude behavior as a quirk. A foreshadow of their true selves. Arguments are a good place to use them or for a character to make a point by cutting someone off.

My advice about Dashes.
They are an abrupt interruption, not a trailing off. Be careful who you have rudely interrupting conversation. Too much might make everyone come across as a jerk.

-Sheryl

Other  posts

The jerk-face warrior

Glance back to look forward

My Posts From The Start

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Lifestyle

Quill

Dashing Dashes

I recently mentioned the use of ellipses. Used in dialogue sometimes they are erroneously used in place of what should actually be a dash.

What’s the difference? Good question.

Ellipses… are three consecutive dots that generally indicate words, sentences or entire sections are being left out.

Dashes – indicate dialogue, speech or something is being interrupted or cut off. A dash is the punctuation. No periods, question marks or exclamation points are used.

Example time:

The tone is set by punctuation.

Dale crossed his arms and scowled. “I don’t think…”

“No you don’t think Dale. That’s the entire problem.” Scott waived his hand dismissively at Dale. 

In that example, Dale comes across unsure or hesitant. That is not the tone I want to portray. Let me try again with a dash.

Dale crossed his arms and scowled. “I don’t think-”

“No you don’t think Dale. That’s the entire problem.” Scott waived his hand dismissively at Dale. 

I wanted Scott to cut Dale off rudely. Scott is slipping and I want his rude factor to go up. With Ellipses, Scott was just mean-ish. With a dash, he was both rude and mean.

In some circumstances, I’ll make the cut off more obvious.

Amber handed Rachael the printout. “I need you to go down to-”
Rachael flicked her hand cutting Amber off. “I know where to take it.” She snatched the paper from Amber’s hand.

I just love making mean people mean. In Rachael’s case she has just cause to dislike Amber and be short with her. Both Amber and Rachael’s lifestyles, attitudes and personalities conflict. Not all cut off’s are a personality flaw, in this moment Rachael is annoyed with Amber, she’s not usually rude in this manner.

Some programs such as *Word or *Microsoft Office don’t allow dashes in dialogue. When this happens I leave the punctuation out, cap it off with the quotation mark and manually go back to add the dash.

“I think we should-“  “ mark is curled the wrong way!  Ugh. Word automatically does this and it drives me bonkers. I go back and fix it manually.
“I think we should”   “I think we should-”

Maybe I’m missing a setting or something, maybe not. I’ll probably end up looking into it. While this manual fix is not efficient, it works for me. Like with all good things I would probably pick one character that might lean on this rude behavior as a quirk. A foreshadow of their true selves. Arguments are a good place to use them or for a character to make a point by cutting someone off.

My advice about Dashes.
They are an abrupt interruption not a trailing off. Be careful who you have rudely interrupting conversation. Too much might make everyone come across as a jerk.

-Sheryl

Other  posts

The jerk-face warrior

Glance back to look forward

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Lifestyle

“Who’s Talking?”

I’m continuing on my dialogue punctuation quest. My goal is to hopefully see less of these simple, yet easy to make errors. Ones I know I myself have done in my typing haste, but hopefully catch them when editing and revising. I’d like to remind you that I’m not at all a professional, I never profess to be. I’m just me, a writer on the quest to have my books published. The fact that I even say books (As in plural) is amazing to me. Along the way, I’ve had to research and learn and discover new things in all aspects of writing, editing, revising and the quest to land a Literary agent and hopefully a publishing contract. Through this, I try to read and explore things, subjects and styles I’ve never tried or learned before.

I certainly hope my dear followers/readers don’t feel belittled by my tips and advice. I figure if the information/reminder/lesson is good for me, then it’s likely to be helpful to others.

Now on to today’s topic. Multiple lines of dialogue. Yup, generally when people talk there is more than one person participating. Unless you’re crazy like I am and talk to yourself. “Say what?” Oh boy I have some interesting conversations with me.

When writing dialogue (My favourite subject) Always start a new paragraph for a new speaker. This keeps the text easy to read and follow. It is crazy kinds of frustrating to have no idea who’s speaking or to have to sift through the dialogue to figure out who’s talking.

Example time:

Incorrect:

“Hey Amber,” Dale smiled. “How’s it going?” He put his hand on her back. “Really good today. Didn’t barf once, I don’t feel sick at all and for once I didn’t wake up already knackered.” Amber grinned and shook her hands excitedly. Dale hugged her tight.
“That’s a relief.” She squeezed back. “I’m so happy.” He said.

Oh my… What? Yes, believe it or not I’ve slogged through dialogue like this. What happens? I stop reading after cringing and becoming frustrated. This rule applies even if one of the speakers doesn’t speak.

Correct:

“Hey Amber,” Dale smiled. “How’s it going?” He put his hand on her back.

“Really good today. Didn’t barf once, I don’t feel sick at all and for once I didn’t already wake up knackered.” Amber grinned and shook her hands excitedly.

Dale hugged her tight. “That’s a relief.”

She squeezed back.

“I’m so happy.” He said.

OR (Single or double spaced is a personal preference. But the industry standard is double) If you go single, it’s very important to make sure each character starts talking on their own line.

Correct:
“Really good today. Didn’t barf once and I don’t feel sick at all.” Amber grinned and shook her hands excitedly.

Dale hugged her tight. “That’s a relief.”
She squeezed back.
“I’m so happy.” He said.

That was a great deal easier to read and understand who says what and how.

Dialogue doesn’t have to be hard, and as always it should have a point and not just be pointless conversation. People don’t want to read that, they can just go to work/school/home and live it… sigh. Readers want the juicy bits, the parts that carry and take the story forward. The parts that deliver the goods and not the stuff that drives a word count up for the sake of it.

My advice about Paragraphing Dialogue.
Um… you sort of have to so the readers can tell who’s talking. Well I suppose you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, but don’t be surprised if the reactions are not what you hoped for.

-Sheryl

Other dialogue related posts

Creative Dialogue Tags

Tag! You’re it.

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Knackered

“Inside.” — “Not out”.

I recently mentioned in a post on how to use Quotation styles. Basically, pick one and stick with it. “Double” or ‘Single’. Recently I’ve been looking at some basic rules, the roots of writing. (Yes, there are those out there that will disagree. That’s your right to.) These rules are not fly-by-night however. They are tried and true. They are found in most properly edited works.

The one rule break I’m most irked by is not keeping punctuation in it’s proper place regarding dialogue. To me this is important. Once I’ve decided which quotation style to use. (Always double for me) then it’s important to keep the dialogue punctuation with in the quotations.

For example:

Incorrect: “Hey Amber”, Dale smiled. “How’s it going”?
Correct: “Hey Amber,” Dale smiled. “How’s it going?

Incorrect:
“This is the worst day ever”! Scott shouted.
“It could be worse”. Dale rolled his eyes. 
“How”
“Losing your car keys and spilling your coffee is minor”. Dale chuckled. “Amber puked on me, slipped in it and cried for an hour this morning”.

Correct:
“This is the worst day ever!” Scott shouted.
“It could be worse.” Dale rolled his eyes.
“How?
“Losing your car keys and spilling your coffee is minor.” Dale chuckled and slapped his knee. “Amber puked on me, slipped in it and cried for an hour this morning.

I don’t enjoy reading dialogue punctuation outside the quotations.  Sure, this happens to me by mistake when I get in a groove and grammar and punctuation take a side line as I hammer away at my keyboard. However, it’s corrected the moment I start editing and revising. (Ideally).

*Amendment to this post. Other countries such as Great Britain use outside punctuation for dialogue. It’s not what I’m familiar with since I’m in North America. Books published from British authors are sometimes converted to the North American standard when published internationally. This blog and all that I write about are based off North American standards.

My advice about Dialogue punctuation.
“Keep it inside the quotation marks.” (Unless your from Great Britain or other countries that keep it on the outside) 

-Sheryl

Other dialogue related posts

That’s So Simile

Redundantly Redundant Redundancies

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Roots

Stylish Quotation “.” “.” ‘.’ ‘.’

Writing dialog. I talk about it alllll the time. Why? Because for me it’s important. I love good dialogue. What I don’t love is dialogue that has poor punctuation. There is nothing worse than having your eyes zip along the sentences to trip up on something out of the norm.  Now like all things the following is what I’ve learned about dialogue punctuation. I have read some stories that simply do not follow any of the basic rules or structure and or don’t do it consistently. Any and every book published by a real publishing house has dialogue in it that is easy to read, follow and understand. Why? Because they all follow the same rules. While stepping outside the norm and being creative is amazing, sometimes being too far from the beaten path can detract from the quality and genius of your work.

There is a time for rebellion, IMO, dialogue punctuation is not one of them. It’s honestly painful to read a block of dialog and struggle to decipher it. I shouldn’t have to.

The most simple rule is QUOTATION style. In my blog it seems to always or often use/convert to the straight up and down style quotation marks (That I don’t like). In my actual novels, I choose times new roman or Garamond so that the quotation marks are properly curled into the sentence.

Like this: “Hi.” or ‘Hi.’ or It’s
Not this:  “Hi.” or ‘Hi.’ or It‘s 

More important than direction of the curl, is to be consistent with the style of quotation marks.  Whether you use the “Double” or the ‘Single’ style of quotations is mute. So long as you stay consistent and always mark dialogue with one or the other.  The style used does seem to be geographical. Some countries teach one over the other. There are of course circumstances when I would mix them. I personally use the “Double” quotation style, which means I always, always, always begin and end dialogue with the same “Double” quotation. This is what a simple dialogue would look like.

“Honestly Dale, it was insane.” Amber said.
“How?”
“Oh she was all like, Oh my god, and totally. She had to be fifty at least. Then she took my order and said, like thanks man. I couldn’t help it and laughed, but waited until I got out of the shop.”

While that reads okay, I like to separate ‘mocking’ or quoting dialogue within dialogue. Most often I’ll do this with ‘single’ quotations (use doubles if you prefer marking dialogue with singles) Just be consistent. I also accent mocking or quoting by using italics. This is totally a personal choice. Yes, well-published authors use this too. That is where I learned it.

So done this way it would look like this:

“Honestly Dale, it was insane.” Amber said.
“How?”
“Oh she was all like, ‘Oh my god, and totally.’ She had to be fifty at least. Then she took my order and said, ‘like thanks man.’ I couldn’t help it and laughed, but waited until I got out of the shop.”

It’s most important to be consistent. You can just as easily choose only italics to accent mocking or quoting other dialogue.

Some might say this is superficial, but if you pull out any professionally published book and take a look you’ll see that dialogue quotation consistency is never broken. Being ‘creative’ or ‘fancy’ is unnecessary. Don’t try to separate speakers by mixing quotation styles. If you structure it correctly you shouldn’t need to.

My advice about Quotation style.
A classic little black dress never goes out of style. The same goes for quotation style consistency. If you want to be taken seriously, leave the creative-ego at the door and quote dialogue properly. Show your creativity in the story telling instead.

-Sheryl

Other dialogue related posts

Creative Dialogue Tags

Talking Trivial

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Zip