If you don’t think this is funny, we can’t be friends any more.
(Hahahahahaha! I love this woman! LOVE!)
I have been saying ‘no’ to adverbs for a long time. And to too many adjectives. But, they’re hard to see in your writing unless you make an effort to go looking for them. The same with repeated phrases. Here’s a story. A true, painful story. As I went through an edit of the DD with a St. Martin’s Press editor, she said in a note, “You keep repeating these phrases.” She made a list. A LONG list. It was nauseating how many times I said the same things. I was horrified. But I couldn’t see them before she pointed them out to me. I was too close to the work (which I have tried hard to clean up–thank you Hope, Copy Editor, and everyone else at SMP).
This semester I will try something I did with my WIFYR class. Self editing, rainbow style. Here’s how it works: Print your manuscript. Get several colors of highlighters. Decide what to look for first. Was-ing words? ‘ly’ words? Adjectives? Repeated phrases? The words it, very, started, well, that (they can almost always go)? Now choose a color of highlighter. Reading for one or two things, mark the story. Maybe adjectives are in yellow and ‘ly’ words are in pink. Go through your book, one chapter at a time.
What do you have when you’re finished?
Marking your manuscript this way makes the weak writing visual, easier to see.
And guess what? You can do this in the opposite way, too. Look for strong lines, good metaphors, excellent story telling.
NOTE: You can do this on the computer, but seeing your work hard copy is VERY different than on the screen.
Need to do that?