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Thursday, June 24, 2010

A necessary evil

If you’ve finished a manuscript at all, then you know all about the revision hell I am currently in. I’ve got three...yes, three completed manuscripts I am attempting to revise (two of them in a series) and still attempting to write on the new wip. I decided last week, I am stretched far too thin. So I narrowed down the to—do list to one ms at a time.

I simply could not keep going the route I was on and I needed a breather. Life, three kids, work, a crit group, and three manuscripts needing revisions...was simply too much for me at the time. So, I completely dropped the new wip despite the fact that I am dying to get back to it at this point. It’s a new project, after all, and it is beyond calling to me. It’s enticing...giving me come hither glances and whispering things in my ear that I just can’t ignore lol.

I decided to write my blog about what I know and what I know at the moment is that I would do anything — anything to make the revision process easier. Researching blogs and articles on the subject have been a huge help but I’ve come up with a tentative list of words to search for in your manuscript as you revise. And I encourage any and all additions you can think of. Perhaps if we compile all this information here in one blog post we can make this horrifying process easier for someone later on.

So here it goes:

The common words: was, that, were, am, is, are, be, had, and has are first.

All, as, could

And as one of my wonderful crit partners pointed out to me (which has been a huge help to me) words that draw the reader out of deep pov: Feel, feeling, felt, hear, heard, see, saw, looked, taste, smell, knew, know, think, thought and wonder. If you changed these words into deep pov, you will automatically strengthen your prose. Thank you Catherine!

Other words to check for: Just, then, so, very, and really

Some other deadwood phrases to search for are:

At such a time as = when

At this point in time = Now

Despite the fact that = Although

Due to the fact that = Because

I am certain there are more and I would love to be able to put more down but currently, my brain is fried from reading the same thing over and over, and over, and over again. =) So, how about helping a writing sister out here and add to the list. What other words or phrases should we be looking out for in our work in progress?


  1. Great post, Melissa. I'm with you. I can only focus on WIP at a time. I've tried to edit one and write another, and I just couldn't keep it all straight in my head if I was doing that.

    As far as words or phrases that are overused, I think you've got a great list going. Aside from those basic words, think about words like quite, almost, somewhat, etc. These words limit whatever word comes after them, and tend to be used a lot. Often if you take them out, the sentence will read as a stronger sentence. Also, be aware that most of us have what I call crutch words or crutch phrases. They may not be words or phrases that anyone else uses in abundance, but in our own writing (or often even just within a single manuscript), we will use them on nearly every page, until someone points them out to us. This can even turn into a crutch action--a hero that has an eye twitch in response to any stimulus (that's me! LOL), or a heroine who's only physical response to a stimulus is to smile. Try to look for these in your own writing, but honestly, sometimes it takes a critique partner to point out your crutches.

  2. I agree that you have a good list going. Best wishes with the revisions. Don't forget to take care of yourself during this time. And stretch! Revisions can be exhausting and physically painful, but also very exciting when you see something great unfolding.

  3. Great post, Melissa! And that's definitely a great list. I'm going to bookmark this post for when I start revisions. Ugh! LOL!

  4. Thanks for stopping by ladies, this has been my first breather all day. I only hope I can help someone down the line because this is really painful. Good luck on the first draft Jerrica but I know it'll be wonderful anyway! And yes, Samatha, I'm stretching...I swear!