Hey everyone, Annette here. How is your writing going? I'm currently in the process of editing two projects (my own). Do you have checklists that help you in those read-through stages? This month, Anita Higman is here with a series of items she uses in her self-editing process. We'll spread the list out for the next three weeks so you can take your time working through the items. Write (er, edit) on!
The Power of Polish, Part 1
by Anita Higman
Robert Louis Stevenson said, “There is but one art, to omit.” He obviously appreciated the power of polish. I call polishing powerful, because it has the ability to transform a rough draft into something remarkable—something salable. After I complete a rough draft I go over it quite a few times, checking for problems, large and small. Here are a few power-polishers from my personal list:
- Did I sprinkle in backstory like a fine spice or did I dump the whole jar in at the beginning?
- Do my characters have plenty of quirks and ticks like real people?
- If I repeated words are they beautifully rhythmic or just annoyingly repetitious?
- Is it clear which characters are talking, or will readers need to stop to figure it out?
- If I altered anything midway—a character’s hair color, the season of the year, etc.—did I make those changes all the way through the manuscript?
- Did I check each “was” and “were” as well as other potentially scrawny verbs? Do some of them need to be removed from the herd?
- Is the word “that” used so much that readers will become so weary of that that they’ll want to use my novel for kindling?
- Have I included literary devices such as sensory details, foreshadowing, irony, metaphors, and similes to give my story depth and delight?
- Did I dip so randomly and deeply into the barrel of limp and colorless adjectives and adverbs that my prose came out hopelessly anemic?
- Are the elements of action, description, and dialogue balanced in my story?
- Is my point of view consistent, or will I confuse readers by head-hopping?
- Is the setting in each scene well-defined?
- Are my characters unforgettable and believable, or are they one-dimensional and uninspiring because I haven’t spent enough time getting to know them?
CBA bestselling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has over thirty books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. She’s been a Barnes & Noble “Author of the Month” for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Her latest books are A Merry Little Christmas (Guideposts/Summerside Press) and Where God Finds You (Standard Publishing). Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and making brunch for her friends. Please visit her online at www.anitahigman.com.
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