Editing using E-Prime and reducing repetition, repetition, rep…

Image from flickr.com

Image from flickr.com

During this past week, I finished working through the beta readers’ comments I’ve had in so far for the third draft of my novel. However, following some very useful comments after my last blog post, I decided to ask my husband to read the current draft to get his take on whether my male character’s point of view (POV) is realistic enough. I await his comments with interest – sadly, I may be waiting a long time because he is a slow reader, only managing a couple of pages a night before he falls asleep 😉 As I’ve set myself a deadline of the end of May to complete my edits on what has now become the fourth draft of ‘From Here to Nashville,’ I’ve decided to crack on with my own final edit of the story.

At long last, the time has come for me to turn to all those useful articles on editing I have been bookmarking since I first joined Twitter last year. When I took a quick glance, I could see that I had bookmarked 46 articles in total! Some of them are more proofreading-type articles which I’m going to save for the final, final round of editing when I get my manuscript back from the RNA (Romantic Novelists’ Association) but the rest are about line-by-line editing and I decided to try and work my way through as many of these as possible before my self-imposed deadline of the end of the month.

Therefore, I thought it might be useful for other new writers to see what I’ve been getting up to. The very first article I’d bookmarked can be found here on The Procrastiwriter’s website, a site I’ve found useful on many occasions. The title of the article is ‘The Secret Way to Energise Any Kind of Writing (even Poetry)’ and it focuses on a particular type of editing called ‘E-Prime,’ which involves finding and replacing all variations of the verb ‘to be’ in your writing. The idea behind this is to make your language clearer and to strengthen your writing by making it more active and less passive. It is described as a prescriptive way of writing and I agree with that but I decided to give it a go because I knew that many people advise writers to cut down on the passive voice in their writing. The first thing I noticed is that it is virtually impossible to cut out all instances of the verb ‘to be’ so I stopped trying to do that quite quickly, deciding only to change those sentences that I could and that I thought would benefit from the approach. Here’s an example of a before and after in my novel:

Before: ‘The feel of the strings against my fingers was as reassuring as always and helped calm my nerves.’

After: ‘The feel of the strings against my fingers reassured me as always and helped calm my nerves.’

The downside of this approach is that it takes a long time to do but it has helped to give the story a bit more energy and so I’m going to plod on with it.

The other bit of editing I’ve been doing at the same time (for when I get bored with just the one job!), is to try and sift out my repetitive use of certain words. Thanks to Scrivener, I can see under ‘Text Statistics’ exactly how many times I use every word in my manuscript. I know how to have fun, right? Unsurprisingly as my novel is in the first person, I use the word ‘I’ a massive 5,008 times in my story. I still feel this is probably too much though and so I’m going to see if there’s anything I can do to cut that down a bit as I go through. The next highest word after that is ‘to’ which can be found 4,577 times. Obviously, some of these words you wouldn’t even notice as a reader perhaps but if the word was ‘gallivanting’ for example, you might feel differently. You’ll be glad to know that I only use this once! Anyway, the week ahead looks like it could be a bit tedious from a writing point of view but I’m hanging in there because I know it will improve my writing. I’ve also noticed that it’s reducing my word count and that’s a real bonus.

I’d love to hear from you if there’s a special editing approach that you’ve used on your manuscript. Until next week, wish me luck and good luck to all of you writing and editing out there 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Julie Stock and My Writing Life, 2013 – 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Julie Stock and My Writing Life with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The End of NaNoWriMo is in sight

Just under a week to go now till the end of my first NaNoWriMo and I am on target to finish my 50,000 words by the end of November. I am so pleased that I have managed to achieve this but there have been a few ups and downs for me during the month, as I’m sure there have been for other NaNoWriMos.

At the beginning, the idea of writing 1,667 words every day seemed hard. Where would I find the time, especially on work days? However, it was the excitement of starting a new project that kept me going in the first week and despite having one day when I didn’t write at all, I still caught up and kept at it.

Then as I moved into the second week, I got into a routine and I was surprised to find that I was adding ‘Writing’ to my list of things to do each day, making time for it alongside all the other things I MUST do every day. Once it took on that importance, I suddenly found that I was getting faster at typing as well. I haven’t participated in any actual word sprints via Twitter but I have been completing some sprints of my own and the sense of achievement I feel every day as I update my word count on the NaNoWriMo site and I study my stats is so gratifying, it’s almost ridiculous 🙂

My story has flagged a little at times and I know I am going to have to do some serious work on it when November is over but I have kept writing and that is what’s important. So by this time next week, I will be back to editing my first novel with a  vengeance. I have been reading it out loud during November, as my first stage of editing and there are many, many chapters to go! I have also applied for a manuscript assessment to help me with the structural edit I know it needs so I’m really keeping my fingers crossed about that one.

The final thing I want to achieve by the end of the year is to sign up for and complete The Society for Editors and Proofreaders ‘Introduction to Proofreading’ course. This is step two in my plan for my new writing life and will start me on the road towards step three next year. If anyone else has done this course, I’d love to hear how you got on with it.

Good luck to all NaNoWriMos out there for this final week. Feel free to let me know how you’re getting on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Julie Stock and My Writing Life, 2013 – 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Julie Stock and My Writing Life with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

New York! New York!

I knew this title would grab your attention but it IS relevant, honest. Next year will see our 25th wedding anniversary and we have been pondering, with our children, where we might go for a special holiday break to celebrate. The thing is that our kids are now 12 and 16 and they’re looking for something a bit different these days and we’d like to go somewhere we’ve never been before. We’ve considered New York before but for some reason (mainly expense and timing), we’ve never managed to get there. Well, now the time seems right. It will be decent weather in April hopefully and if we plan this now, we might even be able to save up for a five day break between now and then. So I’m feeling very excited today and I keep bursting into song as I wander around the house, all Sinatra like, well as much as I can given that I’m female 😉

So how is this relevant to my writing I hear you cry? As you may know, my first novel is provisionally titled ‘From Here to Nashville’ and during the story, the two main characters, Rachel and Jackson, spend a few days in – you guessed it – New York! A trip to the city will therefore allow me to do proper research like a proper writer! Woohoo! I am really looking forward to going and we’re all buzzing with the things we want to do whilst we’re there. The only problem might be fitting them all in, oh and the fact that one daughter is vegan and the other would like to live on burgers but apart from that, we should be fine!

Otherwise, I have had a great NaNo week, keeping up with my daily word count and I feel quite pleased with the progress of my second story so far. My brain has also been constantly referring to my ‘Nashville’ story, putting right some of the plot problems I need to sort out in December when NaNo is over. I am also quite impressed with my own self-discipline today, writing this blog post so early in the day because I was inspired to do so and it feels good that this has become such an important part of my writing routine. I now feel warmed up to write my NaNo words for today and all before lunch-time too! I might have to go and have a lie-down after that.

Let me know how your NaNo week has gone or connect with me as a buddy. My user name is wood_beez48.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Julie Stock and My Writing Life, 2013 – 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Julie Stock and My Writing Life with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My NaNoWriMo nightmare – aargh! Lessons 1 and 2.

This week brought with it the start of NaNoWriMo 2013 on November 1st, of course. Having taken part in Camp NaNoWriMo in July this year and committed to writing 10,000 words for my first novel, I really wanted to do the real thing this November. Twitter went mad in the run-up to last Friday and little by little, I started to feel a bit daunted by the prospect of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. What had I been thinking?

Well, I got off to a good start. Firstly, I prepared a pretty good outline for my second novel, using all the fantastic advice about how to do it via Twitter. Then, on Friday, I concentrated on writing 1,667 words (the minimum daily word count needed to meet the 50,000 total by the end of November). I couldn’t believe it though when one of my NaNo buddies tweeted that she’d already written 5,000 words on the first day! I felt so inadequate and I told her so. She’s an experienced NaNo participant though and she knew she couldn’t write at all the next day so she had planned in advance to write twice as much on the first day. Lesson number 1 for me. However, I was in the same boat because I didn’t think I’d be able to write on Saturday either but I didn’t have time to write twice as much on Friday.

So, I am now one day behind and earlier today, I was feeling stressed and a bit miserable to be honest. Then, along came another NaNo buddy who couldn’t believe it when I said I was trying to edit my first novel at the same time as doing NaNo. She convinced me to let this one slide a little and to concentrate on getting the words down for NaNo this month instead and I realised I could give myself permission for this. I don’t have a deadline. The only person putting me under pressure is myself and I am working part-time as well as dealing with all the other stresses and strains of ‘normal’ family life.

So, lesson number 2 is to do what I can and to try and enjoy it. If it makes me feel miserable, it won’t be worth doing and I do so want to do it 🙂 My word count to date is 5,071 words which I’m pleased with and I will be back next Monday to let you know what progress I have made since then.

If you’re doing NaNo this year for the first time or the umpteenth, why not get in touch and share your ‘nightmare’ first week? I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Julie Stock and My Writing Life, 2013 – 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Julie Stock and My Writing Life with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I’m up for the challenge, are you?

Well, as of today, my Camp NaNoWrimo word count is 4,625 and my goal is 10,000 by the end of July. Apparently, I have to write 448 words a day to meet this goal and whilst I may not make this daily goal (term doesn’t end till Wednesday and so my real life begins again on Thursday!), I am absolutely determined to meet my 10,000 words by 31 July.

I am finding that food and wine are helping me, along with lots of lovely music. At the moment, I am listening to Kirsty MacColl. When I listen to her music, I feel both amazed at her beautiful voice and yet so sad because her life was cut so tragically short. I even managed to fit Soho Square into my novel which I hope is a fitting tribute to a wonderful singer and an even lovelier person and mother.

I may have had too much wine tonight 🙂 I have also listened to and been inspired by, Roberta Flack singing ‘Killing me softly with his song’ today. I have listened to this song at least a million times in my life but it inspires me every time 🙂

And finally, I watched a TV documentary we had recorded about Wings and their Wings Across America tour. I loved The Beatles and I loved Wings too and just listening to that talent has inspired me to write more. I had a listen to John Lennon singing ‘Woman’ too, just for good measure. If only we could turn back time…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back on again with the novel!

After a bit of a drought, I am back on again with my novel all thanks to Camp NaNoWriMo! I have written over 1,000 words in the last 2 days and I feel confident that I can keep going. I have written over 73,000 words of my novel in total and was dreading writing the ending which is definitely in sight. I am just going to keep writing my 500 or so words a day until the end of term (I am a teacher) and then work really hard in the summer holidays to try and finish my first draft. I hope fellow campers/first novel writers are doing well and feel as inspired as I do.