Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Editing "It"

"The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile." - Robert Cormier

Those of you in my writing group will realize that this morning's post looks a bit familiar. It is. :-)

Yesterday, I received my first round edits on my Wild Rose Press story, "Magic". I love my editor, but some days she makes me want to beat my aching head against a wall. She challenges me.

I think the frustrating part of the editing process is how many times I do something that I know isn't right. Like writing "squat down", when I'm pretty certain it's impossible to "squat up".

I think part of the problem is focus. I focus on things I know I do and so let many other things slip under my radar. I have begun to make a list of things to look for and do a read through for each one -- of course, the way my list is growing, reading through my work will take the better part of my life!

Here are a few I added from this round of edits:

"IT" -- My Sweetheart Rose editor dislikes the use of "it". And, after she explained why to me, her reasons make perfect sense (for instance, I wanted to use "it" twice in that last sentence, but figured out a way to make my meaning clearer without using the pronoun).

Some examples (taken from my story):

It really was beautiful up here. - Her comment: As much as possible avoid this vague pronoun. Go for the specific—the scenery or the view or nature

It was a tradition, even after all this time. Her comment: Reword to delete the ‘it’ and add what the tradition is—the vacation, the trip, the reunion—and make tradition the last word—for sentence strength.

It was good to see everyone again. Her comment: Reword and personalize to what she’s feeling—POV character only knows her own thoughts and feelings.
That's not to say she suggests changing every "it", but she's made me aware of the times I can strengthen my writing by being more specific.

Here's one I knew, but didn't always catch - avoid using "telly" phrases like: she felt, she heard, she saw, she tasted, etc. (for more practice on this, go to Allie's last Writer's Weds and see her post on showing, not telling).

AND, she's pushing me to use more sensory detail -- again something I realize, but forget to include when I get writing. In fact, I posted a writing prompt to my group a couple weeks ago with this challenge! My editor has asked me to describe things in more detail and use all the senses. Though I know this, intellectually, I tend to forget to do it. My suggestion for myself? Go back through EVERY paragraph and see what I can make stronger. Did my heroine sip her coffee? Was it hot, cold, tasty, strong? Did it smell rancid or bland? Did she warm her hands on the cup?

I don't know how other editors work, but I have to tell you: The Wild Rose Press editors teach me so much, challenge me so much, and help me to make each story as strong as it can be. I really love these guys.

Hey -- don't forget to enter to win a book! I added a couple more yesterday... Right now there are only a few people in there (you have to comment on THAT particular post), so the odds are high that you'll will!

Have a wonderful day :-)


Melissa said...

Sounds like your editor is great!

I call overuse of it, ititis. I have suffered from it as has my cp. But when you substitute a word or phrase for it, the difference is amazing. Of course, I usually don't catch it myself!

I also have a checklist I use once the book is done. I search on words/phrases/problems that I usually have with my writing, including those "telly" words. It helps.

Have fun with the edits!

groovyoldlady said...

My fiction is pathetic. I have to ed,ed,ed!

groovyoldlady said...

Ooops, btw, I think the cover is LOVELY. Nice choice!