She's revising, one chapter after another. Rain, of course. I knew it was coming but I didn't expect it to be this difficult. It's not "killing my darlings". It's more like nuking adverbs, inserting very small words that didn't make it, and tweaking storyline.
The only thing I'm not paying much attention to is grammar. I know it sounds odd and probably egotistical but I do think of myself as fairly decent with grammar. I also plan on sending it to a professional editor just for grammar and punctuation correction. After months and years, in the case of Rain, things can get by you. So having something looked at by a professional makes sense.
My little three point review process may need some broadening of scope or method. Right now it makes sense to me. I've never revised anything before. Yes, you heard me correctly. I've never revised before. Perhaps I could say I've never revised on this level or on this big of a project. It doesn't compare to changing a word in a poem or finding another way to say something in a four hundred word essay. I do that all the time.
I identified the use of adverbs as one of my weaknesses. No, I don't think every adverb should be shot on sight. They are a legitimate part of the English language and don't deserve the treatment they've received. But, still I seemed to be using a lot of them. What do I do? Here's my page by page process.
- Highlight every single adverb.
- Go back and eliminate every highlight falling between quotation marks. To me, this is dialogue. The way my characters speak. I want to look at my words, not theirs.
- Go back again and look at each one. Did I describe the action, feeling, or tone elsewhere? Could I have described the action, feeling, or tone in some other way?
- If the answer to my first question above is yes, I delete it.
- If the answer to my first question is no I go on to the second question and either add or rewrite the action or dialogue.
- If the adverb fits --- horror upon horror! --- I leave it alone. It works for me.
I don't participate in any face to face writing critique groups. The idea, right now, fills me with an utter state of inexplicable fear. Online is my chosen method for that. But that's another posting. But I often hear is "Read your work aloud". Reading it aloud to myself? I'm afraid that didn't work for me but something else did.
Someone on the Facebook group, Novel Matters, posted the discovery of a small option in Adobe Reader. Under the 'view' tab was a little option called "Read Aloud". The voice is computer-generated and doesn't always pronounce words or names correctly but, by cracky, I could hear where I missed those "little" words, awkward phrasing, and repetitive words. Yes!! Down to the second process:
- Convert Word Document to PDF file.
- Open saved PDF file in Adobe Reader
- "Read Aloud" page by page
- Go back to open Word document and make needed corrections
- When last page is done--delete PDF file.
Tweaking I cannot explain in a concrete step by step method. It seems to flow through the first two processes. I'm reading/listening as I go through the first two processes. I go either "what?" or "wait a second!" and change/tweak things right then and there. Perhaps as I revise more the pattern will come to me.
I do know I don't want to be caught in a never-ending revision loop--- like this guy here.
Sooner or later I think you have to stop revising, declare the story finished, and get it out there. Really, does any writer ever think: "This is perfect! Nothing more to do here."? There's a quote somewhere that states that.