Monday, August 30, 2010

Taking Editing to New Heights: Part Two by Ocieanna Fleiss

Good Monday to you! Please welcome Ocieanna back as she continues her series on editing your manuscript.

Taking Editing to New Heights: Part Two
by Ocieanna Fleiss

As we talked about last week, hot air balloons cannot soar until they drop their sandbags. If you want your writing to soar, sandbags must plummet. Here are a few to hoist.

There’s Too Many in the Basket

I once read a book in which the author repeated unusual words at least once—usually more—in the same paragraph. Like,

The lady unpredictably ran into the forest with the dog unpredictably chasing her, and her hem unpredictably coming unraveled.

I struggle with this too. I don’t know why, but sometimes words get stuck in my head. And without noticing, they pop out over and over.

It’s also easy to get stuck on one type of characterization, but readers will notice if a character’s eyes squint, or jaw clenches, or palms sweat every couple pages.

Heavy Attributions

When I first write dialog, I use said a lot. And said is good. Nothing wrong with said. But when I revise, I usually add stuff like, “Come here,” the swamp monster gurgled; “You’re kidding,” the queen chortled; or “I’ll find you!” the evil lord hissed—y’know, just to spice it up. And that’s good … until you read it. It gets to be too much. Like I’m trying too hard to be clever. So then I cut out attributions altogether. For example: The little girl eyed her mother and giggled. “Mom’s hair is green.” But too much of that makes my story seem stiff and awkward. What’s better is to achieve a good balance by blending all three techniques.

Tip: Reading your scene aloud helps find this balance.

So when you’re creating your story, take the time to release those sandbags—and watch your writing soar.


Ocieanna Fleiss has cowritten two novels with Tricia Goyer—both for Summerside press. The most recent, Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington, released July, 2010. Ocieanna has also written several articles for national publications and a bi-monthy column for Northwest Christian Writers Association. Homeschool mom of four little ones, she, along with her husband, stay busy at her home in the Seattle area.


Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington released in July, 2010

The Second World War has stolen Rosalie's fiancé from her. But rather than wallow, Rosalie throws herself into her work at the Boeing plant in Victory Heights, shooting rivets into the B-17 bombers that will destroy the enemy. A local reporter dubs her Seattle's Own Rosie the Riveter, and her story lends inspiration to women across the country. While Rosalie's strong arms can bear the weight of this new responsibility, her heart cannot handle the intense feelings that begin to surface for Kenny, the handsome reporter. Fear of a second heartbreak is a powerful opponent - but will it claim victory over love?

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