I’ve been busy these past two weeks redoing my course “Wake Up Your Prose: Description Unpacked.” The beta version launched almost two years ago, and I’m almost ready to launch the alpha version. I’m very excited about it, and I know it will be a worthwhile investment for those who buy it.
Books I’m [not] reading
I finally admitted defeat and put down Middlemarch. I really liked it, but there were so many other books on my shelf and my Kindle that I couldn’t find the time to resume reading it. I haven’t given up on myself, though, and hope to try again sometime later…
I picked up a Kate Atkinson book, Started Early, Took My Dog, at the used bookstore last week. I had read her Life after Life, the plot of which I hated but the prose of which I loved, and I never thought I’d read her again. However, the title of this new one intrigued me enough to buy it. I’ll let you know.
I still have to pick up Warriors Don’t Cry, which I spoke about in my last email. That one is next in the queue.
I went to an amateur musical this week, and left in the middle. The music was fantastic, but everything else wasn’t. The biggest problem with the show was its length: 2-1/2 hours! I didn’t know how I was going to sit through that – even with an intermission.
The frustrating thing is that the authors of this musical could have cut at least a third of the scenes out – and that was just in the first act. Indeed, there were several scenes of two or three minutes’ duration whose sole purpose was to give us information and move the plot along. Such a waste of time. The authors could have written in a bit of dialogue in the longer and more important scenes, which would have gotten us from Point A to Point B a lot less painfully and sloppily, not to mention quicker.
And the point is…
So why am I telling you all this? Because the authors forgot to self-edit. Yes, even in plays, movies, poetry etc., an author needs to edit. Remember Stephen King’s warning: Kill your darlings. Here’s mine: Less is more. A streamlined, tight play would have gone over so much better, and we would’ve been out of there before 11 pm.
Likewise, make sure that everything you write – from paragraphs, to sentences, and yes, to even words – is working for you and not against you, and is earning its place.
Make every word count.
On that note, I’ve written an extremely quick and dirty Self-Editing Checklist. There is so much more to discuss about editing your own work, and my next project is to create a writer’s self-editing course; watch out for that in late 2019. However, this checklist gives you 7 of the most important things to look for when you are looking over your finished piece. You can get it here.
And do me a favor: go ahead and send the checklist to anyone else you think might benefit from it. Thanks!
One of my subscribers wanted me to discuss the use of multiple prepositions. Below is an excerpt from one of my recent posts, in which I go over preposition issues. You can check out the entire post to get more explanation and other great writing tips:
I traveled over hill, dale, and over the mountain.
The sentence you just read is incorrect. The problem is the non-balanced use of the preposition over, as well as uneven use of the article the. The verb traveled applies to all the nouns, which begs some form of parallelism.
In order to right this sentence, you have a few options. I have presented them below. All of them solve the parallelism problem:
I traveled over the hill, the dale, and the mountain. Same verb and same preposition used once for all nouns; uniform use of the.
I traveled over hill, dale, and mountain. Same verb and same preposition used once for all nouns; uniform absence of the.
I traveled over hill, over dale, and over mountain. Same verb used once for all nouns, same preposition used for all nouns; uniform absence of the.
I traveled over the hill, through the dale, and across the mountain. Same verb used for all nouns; different preposition for each noun; uniform use of the.
I traveled over the hill, ran through the dale, and hiked across the mountain. Different verb for each noun – but they’re all in the past tense; different preposition for each noun; uniform use of the.