Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My New Campaign - I'd Rather Go Naked Than Edit

We’ve all seen the ads for PETA – I’d rather go naked than wear fur. Well, I’m here to say I’d rather go naked than edit.

When I’m sitting in front of my computer and I get an exciting new idea for a book, I can run off of that energy for weeks. I’ve been known to write a novella in less than a week, and a full-length book in 8 days flat. I’ve written forty-six pages in one day, and 60,000 words in a week. However, when it comes time to edit that bitch, I break out in a cold sweat and come to the decision that the laundry needs my utmost attention. Even if it’s all done. Something needs to be ironed, folded or stitched. Socks need to be matched.

There’s something magical about writing a book. I can sit down for what seems twenty minutes, typing away, trying desperately to ignore my kids and whatever that last noise was, and in reality hours have gone by. When I edit, it’s a different story altogether.

For my first manuscript, I had a lot of exclamation points. “They’re right on our tail!” “Run!” “They have grenades!” “I baked an apple pie today!” Yeah, I went the distance when it came to exclamation points. My editor, God bless her, didn’t make a huge deal about it. She said a lot of newbies used exclamation points instead of showing the emotion through word choice, or italicizing power words. I went a little too far when I edited my second book. She actually had to put a few exclamation points in.

Okay! So I learned my lesson on exclamation points! Moving on to the unnecessary words!

For example: He sat down in the chair and ran a hand through his hair. Well, how else is he going to sit? Up? He sat DOWN is redundant. He sat in the chair. Period. Oh, and while we are on redundant words, how about off of. “I snatched the brush off of the dresser.” No hooker, you snatched the brush off the dresser. No need to use the word of.

Another thing I tended to do in my early manuscripts that can really make editors grit their teeth is blatant overuse of certain words. I used some words so often that I had to delete that about that a quarter that of them. Wow. You’re really alert. Yes, I once overused the word that. I’ll save the word was for another article. I once had a crit partner point out that I had the word was over 40 times on one page. I shit you not. I still have a problem with THAT word. *Sigh*

And speaking of teeth grinding, I recently discovered this is a no-no. He grit his teeth when the bullet made impact. BONG! Incorrect. The correct form would be as follows – He gritted his teeth when the bullet made impact.

Ah, sharing all of my face-plants when it comes to writing is giving me the warm fuzzies. Let’s go on, shall we?

“Alright,” you say. Well, no. That’s not the way you spell it. It’s all right. Two words. Now, to be fair here, an editor once told me you could shorten it to alright in dialogue, but never in narrative. Confused much? Alrighty then, moving on.

Dialogue. READ IT OUTLOUD. Please don’t have your hero say, “It is nine O’clock in the evening. Is there any chance that you are you ready to go to bed?” Well, there’s nothing wrong with that sentence, you say. No, technically there isn’t. But do you talk that way? I didn’t think so. How about this – “Christ, it’s nine already. I’m going to bed.”

Such small, nit-picky things we tend to do in our first draft that must be weeded out when we edit. Suddenly the creative process is over, and you're forced to invite your internal editor back. You edit your manuscript once, twice, maybe even three times. Your crit partner edits your manuscript. You edit your manuscript again. You get a contract - YAY! And then you get your first round of edits, and then a second round of edits. Then you get your galleys, or final line edit.

Are you ready to join my campaign yet? T-shirts coming soon - I'd Rather Go Naked Than Edit.


  1. LOL. Sign me up!!! I have pages of notes I've taken, adding to them with every book I get edits for, just listing the mistakes I make. I'm learning but it's tough sometimes remembering everything. I have a horrible time overusing 'like' and 'felt'. Drop me an email when those T-shirts come out. LOL.

  2. Great post!

    You might enjoy using the AutoCrit Editing Wizard. It automatically checks for overuse of words like 'that', 'was', LY-adverbs, etc. It really makes editing easier...and you don't need to be naked :-)

  3. I want that T-shirt cause I was living it. Okay, bad example of the overuse of was and that, but the coffee is still kicking in. ;-)

    Great post!!

    And yes, I still hate to edit and revise.

  4. Can I add to the idea: I'd rather redecorate than edit. My keyboard has new clothes, but I don't!
    Love your blog - will keep looking at it. All the best!

  5. Laurann, Yep, I think the T-shirts are a good idea. ;)

    Janine, I bought the auto crit for a year, and then I only used it twice. *smacks forehead*

    CJ, hey lady! I'm still editing, so I'm still in hell. lol

    Anne, Thanks!