I've been doing a lot of reports on my progress with the novel or the story collections. Mostly it's been all editing, all the time lately, so I thought I must surely have something to share about editing.
My current editing stage is line edits. That is, I think I've fixed the issues with the story, and now I'm trying to make the writing as good as I possibly can. I have several stages for that process, too, and I'm still not quite sure what the best order is. I'll share in the order I'm tackling them for this book.
1. My 'words to watch' list. I have a list of 17 words or constructs that I overuse/abuse, or that are just plain weak writing. I'm nearly through the list, and I have to say, it feels good to replace passive forms like "I realized" with active and immediate descriptions. I've decided that when I write the drafts, certain words and phrases get dumped in as sort of place holders, which then have to be located and replaced with actual writing. Despite the need to add description in some places, this process has carved about 1000 words out of the MS. It's surprising how often I look at the placeholders and conclude I don't need to say anything more at all, just remove the word that points at what follows and screams "I'm writing this!"
The technique is simple: I use the search function in Word to jump to each instance of the suspect word.
Caveat: doing this can make it seem like I'm over-using a word when it's actually okay.
2. My next step will be a start-to-finish read-though for anything that looks like it still needs work. Just what it sounds like. There's a bit of stopping and starting as some sections may need more smoothing out than others. Sometimes when I start removing my suspect words from Step One, I do damage to the narrative flow or the sense of a sentence.
3. Finally, I'll read the whole thing aloud. This always makes me squirm, but it is the best way I know of to catch the things that make readers hiccough. Even better would be to have someone else read it aloud, but that's not really an option.
When I finish with Step Three, I should be ready to send it to the proofreader(s). This is good, as I'm only about 5 weeks out from my deadline.
And in case you missed it last week, here's the beautiful cover for the new book: