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

 

Popping Inflated Sentences

Popping inflated sentences

Popping Inflated Sentences

Sharing my editing and revising process(woes, struggles, and achievements) is one of my favorite types of posts to do. I like to share my woes, mistakes and the things I’ve learned. It’s no secret that I love writing. It’s also no secret that I’m a wordy writer. I embellish and add so much crap to a sentence that is unnecessary. I’m not going to throw a conniption fit about my mistakes, they are easy to fix, and that’s what the editing and revising process are for.

I’ve been rewriting BiaAtlas line by line shortening inflated sentences and taking out repetitive content. Today I’m going to share some actual sentences I found within the first 3 chapters and what I did to fix them. The fixes may not be perfect, but it’s a start.

Original: She was swallowing hard and trying hard not to throw up.

Corrected: She swallowed the urge to throw up.

Those ings get me every time. From 11 down to 7 words and it reads better. 

Original: The boy lies and pretends to be normal, but he is far from normal.

Corrected: The boy is far from the normal he pretends to be.

That sentence was too much normal. 14 down to 11.

Original: While they decided if she would be suitable or not.

Corrected: While they determined her suitability.

Not bad, took that sentence from 10 down to 5. Decide, decided, deciding are filter words. As you can see I highlighted decide and it found decided. I use the search/replace feature to highlight filter words, dependant words(Words I depend on too much) and things like LY and ING. The post Well color me silly explains how I do this(I do plan to revisit that post and add some new content soon). 

This next one is a smidge out of context. The gist is that this is an introspective sentence and the man is thinking about the danger of having loved ones used against him in hostage situations. 

Original: How many times has he seen loved ones used against him? Too many.  (13)

Corrected: Too many times have loved ones been used against him. (10)

I don’t like been or being. They are filter words often used in the introspective narrative. Been has to go.

Corrected: Too often have loved ones been used against him. (9)

Corrected: Loved ones have been used against him often. (8)

Corrected: Loved ones are a hostage liability. (6)

Potentially down from 13 to 6. That’s a win for word count and the new sentence fits far better in the paragraph than the many words of the original.

The point of this is to show how a sentence can be whittled down if the word count is too high. Also, it shows that sentences can be recrafted into something tighter, cleaner and easier on the eyes. 

I’m not going to sit here and say that I catch every crap-loaded sentence, but I do try. The re-write is difficult because it is line by line. It takes time, patience and quiet to think and concentrate.

My advice about whittling popping inflated sentences
Take your time to recognize an inflated sentence. Use the find and search feature to highlight common filter words, adverbs (LY), clichés, jargon, and garbage words you rely on or often repeat in a sentence. This will help make the problem sentences noticeable.

-Sheryl

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/08/21/your-daily-word-prompt-conniption-august-21st-2018/