This week, CWC member Lynne Lawrie tells us how she’s been getting on editing her first novel. Over to you, Lynne:
“This is a short run through of my first edit attempt. It is definitely not a ‘how to edit’, but I hope some small details might be useful to some of you, particularly if you haven’t used an editing package.
It is really a follow on to Paul’s blog, which prompted me into action; thank you, Paul. I completed the first draft of my first novel but the concept of editing seemed much more daunting than writing. In his book, On Writing, Stephen King says that the first edit reduces his word count by one third. If that happens to mine, I will end up with a pamphlet. During my days as a student, colleagues could often be heard wailing that they could not keep their dissertations within the word limit. I, on the other hand, struggled to make the requirement, so felt happy that Stephen King and I do not share writing styles. However, thanks to Paul’s blog, I can now see that I have different problems.
I followed on his heels by using Prowritingaid (other packages are available). It is a useful editing package that underlines possible problems in your writing. It also gives you a summary score comprised of grammar, spelling and style. Your writing will now be filled with differently coloured underlining. It has myriad features including: length of sentences, glue words(!), over-used words, repeated words…I could go on but don’t want to frighten you. The reality is you could get stuck, totally trapped in a never-ending cycle of revisions until the spirit of your writing has been changed forever. And, I am ashamed to admit, by ever seeking to get a higher overall score for my chapter – one that shows in green rather than orange, or heaven forbid, red. Oh dear.
So. Circumspection for me is the key. I have been shocked to find how many repeated words/phrases I use, and my newly discovered bête noir – adverbs. I am fully conversant with ‘show, don’t tell’, but you wouldn’t think this to see how many adverbs I have been using. So, Prowritingaid has been extremely useful to pick up on my particular weaknesses. As far as I’m concerned it is also important to ignore some/many suggestions if they are not right for you.
On a final point, I found it doesn’t work well with Safari. I downloaded Chrome for Mac and it works perfectly. And there are discounts available online, I bought mine with a 20% reduction. [And there is currently a 25% discount offer running. Ed.]