Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Honey-do List and Empty Verbs

I have a honey-do list, and, unfortunately, I'm the honey doing it.

At this point in my edits, it's impossible to complete a 'fix' without either realizing something I need to adjust for consistency or getting a cool new idea for how to make something a little more believable and sparkly.

Here's the hubby doing dishes.
Too bad he can't take care of editing for me!

I jot down questions about everything from plot to character background, plus scene order, general comments from critiques, and some 'writerly sins' that I frequently commit.

Here's a small sample:

Things to Remember-
Emotion needs to be real to the reader. Allowing the reader time to infer her emotions.
-By slowing down her thoughts, letting more of her physical reaction reach the reader.
-Put the reader in familiar situations and then twist, exaggerate

-Make Lara’s empathy real by showing how it affects her physically and the way her thoughts change
Edits to make-

Is the chunk in the mental hosp with David interesting enough?

Does Lara’s climax w mother go too fast- the chronology is messed up there- is it troublesome that David has so much more time Outside than Mother has in the Home?

Check resolution w/ David’s Mom
The talk- adjust Lara to not be so childish sounding.

Make Lara more engaging in beginning- give her more knowledge of what she wants to do and no power to stand up to Mother.

devils milhopper- crime scene tape, etc.

Rewrite dialogue about Mommydaddyetc. Make girl really angry.

Mother needs to explain about the other fruit

Lara delves all the girls before they can enter the orchard.
Watch for and elimiinate when possible:
-over use of: elllipses, dashes, italics, exclamation poits, inner dialogue questions ie- "I wondered if..., Would she faint?, etc."
Wanted to, Watched, Listened, Wondered
Felt, feel
Was, had
Then, For a moment
Thing /something/somehow
Going to be/do
Very so quite really
Usually, Always, never
nice, fine
I've gotten a lot better at not writing things in passive voice, ie- I threw the ball (active) vs. The ball was thrown by me (passive) This frees my mind to work on other sins like using empty verbs.

In first person, empty verbs add a level of commentary between the reader and the experience.
Compare this:
"I saw her hair glinting in the sunlight." (Obviously the character whose head we're in saw this. Just describe what was seen!)
To this:
"Her golden brown hair poked out of her ponytail, each stray hair backlit like a filament in a light bulb against the sun."
Let the reader see through the character's eyes with out reminding them that someone else is seeing, someone else is wondering, someone else is tasting, hearing, and living. So every time I catch a new empty verb I put it on the list. Then when I'm in a mood to reword (very rare!), I use the 'find' function and fix them. Almost invariably, these words indicate that the sentence structure or word choice is weak.

I just started crossing through completed items instead of deleting them and this helps me in two ways- I can see what I've actually done instead of merely thought about (it gets really confusing after 10,000 changes) and it gives the illusion of getting something done! Haha! Really, it helps me to stay on track and reassures me that the novel is improving, however slowly.

How do you keep track? Any secrets to share, writer-friends?

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