Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Guest Blog: Editing Sentence-by Sentence
Whoop! Guest Blogger day! Please let's all welcome Candice from Live Raw. Candice is a freelance writer with some mad grammar/english skills. She does some freelance editing as well. Believe you me. I know her personally, and have for two years. She rocks.
I'm trying to get her to write a novel. She'd be awesome. She wants to, but has a hard time finding the time. Anyhoo...visit her blog. It's dedicated to raw food and healthy stuff and it's fun to read! Plus, her camera takes some wickedly good pictures. Check it out.
Okay, I'l quit rambling. Of we go with Candice:
First of all, of course I must thank Justine for this opportunity to be the guest blogger for today! I love her blog and I love her stories, so this is a really exciting day for me! My post topic is: Editing-Sentence by Sentence.
Warning: I must tell you that for this particular post, I am going to use Justine’s shorter piece, Recaptured Dreams, for some examples in which I will attempt to “improve” a sentence. However, I don’t think ANYTHING is wrong with this book—I just needed something to work with!
Editing-Sentence by Sentence. I majored in English in college (B.A.) and conducted multiple research projects that required a lot of writing. And what did I hear more than anything else from peers, faculty, editors, etc.? This simple phrase: “Writing is Re-Writing.” Ugh! Sometimes that can be so daunting. I just want to be FINISHED when I think I am FINISHED! …And knowing Justine, I would imagine some of you feel the same way.
However, editing is imperative to becoming published. Here are some tips to help you check out your WIPs line by line – tips I believe will help your writing, your style, and your chances for publication.
1. You can check to make sure your sentences make sense OUT of context by starting at the very last sentence in your novel/story. Read them one at a time, without considering the rest of the story and how the sentence fits in. Just think about whether or not it sounds good on its own. Is it a good sentence? A bad sentence can ruin a piece.
2. Don’t use your word processing “synonyms” function to replace words when you are having trouble with repetition. Still, don’t try to use words you don’t understand. There’s nothing more awkward than a misplaced, uncommon word.
3. As many of you know, take out filler words like “that,” “started to,” “began,” etc.
a. “The dog poop danced” or “The dog danced his graceful poop dance” can replace “The dog began to do his poop dance.”
4. Don’t be afraid of your own style – you don’t need to match the style of your favorite author. In fact, publishers will be looking for a unique voice.
5. Read your novel/chapter/single sentence out loud. It will help you decide whether or not a sentence sounds good. Or, have a trusted friend read it to you. It will either sound good or horrible.
6. Consider each sentence and what you are attempting to tell your reader. Every sentence MUST mean something. It must be important to your story or you should take it out.
7. PUT IT AWAY! Put your MS away for a couple days (or weeks in some cases) and work on something completely different for a while. You will come back to it fresh and with new perspectives.
All right, so here are some examples of editing sentence by sentence:
RD, page 10: “The fashion show had been an exhilarating experience and the after party was even more amazing and exhausting.”
I would change this sentence by considering the adjectives used to describe the nouns. Exhilarating Amazing Exhausting. All end in ING, All start with vowels, two have the EX-ING sound. All are pretty common words. Of course, you could say I am too wordy, but I would say DESCRIBE these “ING” words. Make your reader do some work in deciding what you are telling them!
Savannah left the fashion show, heart pounding and skin damp from sweat, only to find herself at the after party where the world’s top designers mingled, drinking only the most expensive top-shelf tequilas and whiskeys.
RD, page 40: “Standing above him as the moonlight poured into the room, she realized just how handsome he was.”
Ok, so what’s happening in this sentence is a really touching, intimate moment in Savannah’s experience. So, this sentence could easily reflect that in its style.
“The moonlight poured into the room, dancing across his face as he slept. The contours of his nose and the slight twitch of his lips as he dreamt reminded her just how handsome he was.”
Ok, so there are my two cents for better editing. Like I said, some of you may find my examples to be too wordy (I AM an English major, though), and I do understand the quest for reaching/staying below word limits.
Always remember, though, “WRITING IS RE-WRITING.” Don’t be discouraged. Not one published novel was never edited before becoming a hit!
Whew~ My brain hurts! She gave us a lot of info. A lot of GREAT info. Write it down peeps!!
And....can I just say I am embarrassed about my own sentences? Gah! I actually really like the second one she changed better than my original. *Sigh* Like I said...she's good.
Don't forgot to stop by her blog. and check out cool recipes, nutritional advice, and some randomness (don't we all have a bit of randomness on our blogs? lol) ;-)