I’m up to my eyeballs in editing and revision. As much as I would like to say things are going smoothly; the truth is, the process is dragging me through the mud. While writing the rough draft I didn’t worry about the errors; my goal was to get the skeleton out on paper. During that phase I was only slowed by my imagination and the occasional plot pitfall.
Now, I have to make the work stand on its own. Every statement, every phrase, and every thought has to be justified and make sense to the reader. The voice must be consistent, the flow smooth. The whole package has to be good.
This means I spend a great deal more time staring at Mr. Monitor. If I keep this up I’ll give the poor thing a complex.
Perhaps the easiest way of finding where a piece of writing can improve, besides getting someone to read it and give feedback, is by asking yourself questions. Say in your piece, the protagonist walks into his apartment and punches his roommate in the face. A chain of “write” questions might run like this:
Why did he punch his roommate?
Because he was angry.
How did you show he was angry?
Um, he punched his roommate…
Is there any other way you can show he is angry?
Maybe I should add some facial expressions or hand gestures.
And on and on… etc.
Why did it happen? How did it affect the lead character? Does it contribute to the story? Does the reader clearly know who is doing what at any given moment?
This exercise works best when spoken out loud. You use a different part of the brain to listen than you do to think. It’s an effective way of catching awkward phrases and missing words. It is also an effective way to appear crazy so be cautious where you choose to talk to your piece of writing.
Until next time, happy writing!