Revisions — Part 2

So about a month ago I wrote about starting revisions, and how overwhelming it was. My manuscript at the time was 90,000 words, and it felt like a nearly impossible task to weed through all those words and decide which ones stayed, and which ones met their demise. (Curious about my book, The Doctor’s Daughter? Have a look!)

Well, I’m happy to say the book currently sits around 82,000, and I’m *nearly* done killing all darlings who got in my way. There was a lot of red pen used. I had great beta reader and critique partner feedback, which helped me figure out what needed to come out, or in some cases, what needed to be added in. A lot of the time while revising I felt like this (I got this…I got this…Noooo! Plot points don’t line up…*insert expletive*:

Michael Crichton has a great quote, about how books aren’t written — they’re re-written. I believe it. It took me four months to write my 90,000 words, and it will have taken me nearly as long to revise it by the time I’m done. But once I do, hopefully I have something that can’t be put down:

However, I should stop procrastinating and get back to it. But I’ll leave you with a few tips that have helped me through my revisions:

  1. Eliminate intensifiers, like very, really, totally, completely, and remove every ‘suddenly’ from your book.
  2. Keep dialogue tags simple. This was probably one of the best pieces of advice I took from Stephen King’s On Writing (my fave writing book). Skip tags like ‘he jeered’, ‘she tittered’, and stick with he said, she said. Also adverbs are NOT your friend, a la SK.
  3. There are plenty of nonessential words, but probably the worst one (and easiest to remove) is ‘that’ — at least 90% of these can go. Trust me on this one.
  4. “I saw Sarah go in the kitchen to turn the kettle on…” This is classic tell vs. show. Change to “Sarah turned on the kettle.”
  5. Smiling, nodding, laughing, sighing. *Sigh* This is a tough one to fix, for me. It’s not always easy to signify what a character is doing/how they’re feeling. These are okay…just in small doses. Always ask, “Do I really need this here?” and if not, slash away!

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8 comments

  • Sharon March 15, 2013  

    Great writing tips. The “that” mistake is the biggest one I see time and time again. Having said THAT, it brings me great joy every time I see your addiction to Gifs.

  • Karma March 15, 2013  

    Thanks, Sharon! And yes, I have become somewhat addicted to gifs. I’m thinking of starting a weaning program …

  • Katja March 15, 2013  

    I’m keeping these tips handy. And I’ve realized that GIFs make me queasy.

  • Karma March 15, 2013  

    Sorry about that! I’ll warn you next time if there are gifs : )

  • Jen Bodenham March 16, 2013  

    Can’t wait to read it!!!!

  • Ifeoma April 28, 2013  

    Thanks for the writing tips…so enlightening. I’m still in the early drafting stages of my manuscript but I’m sure I’ve used “suddenly” once or twice, so going to kill them right now 😀

  • Karma April 28, 2013  

    Oh, yeah, if you can avoid ‘suddenly’ from the beginning you’ll be doing yourself a HUGE favour later on! : )

  • Karma April 28, 2013  

    Thank you!

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