Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Editing the Beast

This post is exactly what the title says.

Are you ready?

So I just sent out (literally, just now) my manuscript to Mr. Agent from the contest. I feel excited, scared, nervous, hopeful, terrified, but above all, completely drained.


Because I was a dumbass and decided to start editing the book on WEDNESDAY. Mr. Agent posted the announcement on MONDAY. I've always sucked at deadlines, which will probably be bad if my writing career ever goes legit. On the other hand, I've heard that procrastination is an important talent for every writer to develop.

But now it's done, and I feel exponentially better about M-town. Whenever I go through an editing session with my book, I feel like I throw myself in a dysfunctional relationship. First I'm in love, then doubt flares up. Disgust comes into the equation more than once, but there's too much passion and intensity for me to give up on it. In the end, I love it no matter what. I see its flaws, but I also think the good qualities outweigh the bad.

Ignore the crazy, and let's continue.

I'm sure I've done posts on editing before, but I think this material is new, so here goes. I kept a sort of list as I went through each chapter, and I'm going to share that information with you now. Please don't use it against me.

1) Awkward writing. I wish I could tell you how to avoid it, but I do it all the time. In one of the first contests I entered, the judge complained about this and I almost had a hissy fit. Really? Awkward writing? How subjective is that?

It IS subjective, to a point. It's kind of like saying that Phoebe from Hey Arnold was awkward. Some could argue that she's just a smart introvert. But that Eugene kid that stalks Helga? The one with the loud breathing? Undeniably awkward.

Keep Eugene out of your writing.

2) Danger words. These vary for everyone, so just keep an eye out for whatever yours are. Chances are, at least some of them will be adverbs (I had to watch out for exactly, very, and slightly). Body movements became a problem too, because let's face it, you can only say "smile" a certain number of ways. Sure, your characters can nod, frown, squint, and sigh, but don't have them do it three times in one page.

3) First person stuff. I'm not sure if it's just me, but stuff crops up and all of my beta readers blame it on first person. I'm starting to agree with them. Let me explain: I noticed, I realized, I saw, I ...

Of course, you could just as easily write "he noticed, he realized," but I think it's easier to over use these phrases in first person.

4) Dialogue Tags. Authors and agents blog constantly about these, with good reason. This ties a little in with adverbs (he said quietly), but are quite hazardous on their own (I called, she chastised).

Keep it to "Said" whenever possible, because believe it or not, the reader won't notice most of the time.

5) Forcing action. If something intense is happening, don't ruin it by adding "suddenly" at the front of the sentence. Same thing goes for "in a second" and "momentarily."

Just don't do it.

6) Sentence structure. Keep variety going throughout the narrative. Don't have too many consecutive short sentences or long sentences unless you have a damn good reason.

7) -ing. I actually think these are fine, right up until they become the bread and butter of your book. Everything in moderation.

I had to rip all of these bad habits out of my book this week, and trust me, it hurt. It was also for the best. I think my book is exponentially better now than it was five days ago. Yay!

By the way, I see you guys. I know a BUNCH of people read this blog, but there's only 1 comment on my last post. I DO need some ideas to appease the publishing gods, so PLEASE help me out. Thanks ahead of time :)

Alright, I'm treating myself to some Supernatural before I start my history paper (eek!). I'll keep all you cool cats updated about Mr. Agent.

Much love,


  1. CONGRATULATIONS!! I know he's going to love it!

  2. Excellent post, Kira, and congratulations on mastering the beast. That sounded sexual. Wait, no it didn't. It almost did. It would have if I'd said "dominating the beast." Which I almost did. Anyway, I laughed loudly enough at "Keep Eugene out of your writing" to be glad that my roommate is all the way in Philadelphia right now. Poor Eugene. A name like that is a self-fulfilling prophecy, if not for a life of pedophilia, at least for lifetime awkwardness. All my name expects of me is mysterious, aloof unattainability and maybe adorable prarire rusticity. Hah.