Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Highlighting Errors

It's funny how easy it is to fall into a pattern with grammar and speech to the point that you don't even realize you do it.

I made it through the main edits and hope to goodness when I reformatted the file, it took the right way. (All the indents and margins settings). I did, what I considered, a really good sweep through the manuscript and spent quite a bit of time altering sentences and doing some rewrites that I felt improved and made it read smoother and better.

Then I started through the checklist of things to watch for. I started with the adverbs. Find -ly words and see what my grand total is. It was SCARY. Editor's suggestion- Find the total and then remove at least half, if not more of these tricky, excessive words that pretty it up a bit, make you feel "frilly," but too often take up space and restrict the flow of the writing when they aren't necessary. Too much of a good thing-too much of ANYTHING- can't be good for you.

So there it was- this HUGE number staring me down. I'm too embarrassed to say just HOW many were in there, but let's just say its on the backside of the hundreds. I thought-


I realized though a few words I used can't be counted. Like the word FAMILY. Is it an adverb? Really? No, of course not. It's a noun or an adjective depending on how you use it and it just happens to end in -ly. The name "Emily" is also a noun, not an adverb, but when searching -ly words, it snags them too-lumping them in with all the other bright little yellow highlights on the screen. It's a cinch, I'm not going to be removing the word family or the name of the heroine's deceased grandmother, whom she still thinks of often in loving remembrance.

I will say that the word I was surprised to see I use most was- ONLY. I lost count of how many times I found it. I've removed and replaced more than half of these dreadful words, so far, and intend to tackle what's left today. Then I'll be moving on to the next thing on the editor's checklist.

Needless to say~~It's an eye opening experience when you start zeroing in on the flaws in your writing. In ways, it's devastating, but at the same time it's also liberating. My mind is more aware of this vice now and it will make me a stronger writer for having that knowledge as I continue to tackle edits on this and other manuscripts and as I write more novels.

It never hurts to remind yourself, as an author, of your imperfections, so long as you don't let it hinder your process. Highlighting errors sharpens your mind and your writing and that's ALWAYS a good thing.

Have a wonderful Hump Day
Write On!


JM said...

I know exactly what you're talking about. The bad news is, you'll still do it when you write. The good news is, at least you'll spot it rather than somebody else. Hopefully.
Every manuscript you go through you'll be better able to edit yourself. I've noticed a serious change in my writing just in the past few months.
Like you said, though, it's liberating.
Can't wait to read it!

ShanonGrey said...

Thanks. I don't feel so alone.

Bobbye Terry said...

authors love to claim as "ours." For a long time, my friend Linda used to start sentences with "Not that he" or "Not that she."
She also liked her hero/heroine to inwardly cringe. I'm fond of grinding teeth and balling fists. Lots of tension in my folks. ;)

Good blog!

Taryn Raye said...

Thanks for stopping by ladies!

Thanks JM! I'm sure I'll still stumble into that arena, but like you said, working on it so often sharpens those skills.

Shanon- I'm glad to know I'm not alone in this. ;o)

Thanks for sharing Bobbye! I think I have a few of those quirks too! LOL

Christina Wolfer said...

A twinge of a giggle bubbled up as I read this. Like Shanon, so good to know I'm not alone. I've found that the words I abused the most and had to change in one story, I avoided when writing next.

Devon Matthews said...

taryn, congrats on working through the self-editing process. Any idea at all when your book will be released? I'll be the first in line to get a copy. :o)

Taryn Raye said...

Christina~ glad it brought a giggle. A few years ago when I refreshed my memory over words like was, had, etc, I really started nitpicking as I wrote. It helped but it's still hard to catch them all.

Thanks Devon- we're shooting for spring 2012, but not specifically pinned down just yet. I'll update on my blog and website, twitter and FB as I know more. ;)

Teresa Reasor said...

My word is That. I have to watch that. See what I mean?
And it doesn't hurt to send chapters to yourself through email. Sometimes the change in formatting and font will help you see things you didn't notice before.

It helps to know I'm not alone.
Teresa R.

Cherie Marks said...

Such a humbling experience when you have to re-shape your baby, but your right, you learn from it, and hopefully become a better writer from it.

Such an exciting time--editing your manuscript for publication. I can't wait!

Taryn Raye said...

Teresa- I find I have trouble with "that" as well and always where its absence doesn't make a lick of difference to the sentence. It's just an extra "that" thrown in! LOL

Cherie- Thanks for stopping by, too. It is exciting, isn't it? {giggle giggle} I can't wait either!