Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Book Needs a Diet...

I know it’s cliché to say you learn with every book, but wow. I’m reading a book I wrote about four years ago and while at the time I thought it was the “greatest thing I ever wrote”… the writing is crap.

Okay maybe not crap – but it’s not tight. It’s interesting to me after having so much time away from it to really see “me” as a writer. Who am I and what do I do well. I still love my characters. I still love the “big” scenes.

But I think I use the word “that” between every other word in a sentence.

I read this book ten maybe twenty times over and I never saw a thing wrong with it. Now having spent more time on craft, sentence structure, making each word count I can see how loose and flabby I was back then. I remember JR Ward at a workshop once saying do a find on “that” and delete all of them. This is what I plan to do.

And it’s funny because while I kept telling myself the book was getting rejected on the premise, it very well could be anyone reading it just couldn’t get through all the fat.

Since dieting is something I’m very familiar with… I’m failing at one right now… I figure I should know how to fix this.

My book needs to be trimmed, my sentences need to be focused. My words need to be scrutinized. Call it ten pounds or ten thousand words. It’s going to be hard. I’ll need to be disciplined. In the end hopefully it will be worth it.

What about you? Anyone got a book out there that (I feel the need to change this to "which" right now) needs to stop eating “justs” and “thats”?

6 comments:

Kwana said...

I sure do. I'm now taking Angela James' Before Your hit send class and in one of her lessons she talks about this. I can't tell you how much is clicking. All my past rejections are coming back to haunt me now.

Molly O'Keefe said...

One of the parts of the rwa conference that I loved was Barry...what was his name? From the morning session? Anyway he told this story about his second book - his editor said he needed to lose about ten thousand words and Barry said, okay, there are some scenes I can cut. And the editor said, no just let me show you a really good copy edit and then he took it and cut ten thousand words just in a copy edit - losing all the fat.

It's hard sometimes because we hear our own voices, or each other's voices and it makes it difficult to see the fat, it's just the way we talk. But I'm with you - for me it's just and slightly...ugh.

Eileen said...

In the revision notes for my first book, my editor mentioned how often I use qualifying words like "just" and "almost" and "really" and "kind of." I did a search on those words and cut over 2,000 of them out of my manuscript.

Maureen McGowan said...

That's my favourite part of the revision stage. When it's all about the sentences and making them stronger. Cutting out words, changing weak words to better words. Making it flow. Well, maybe not my favourite... but I always feel like I'm getting something done. And feel confident that I"m making changes that make the book better.

Sinead M said...

It's that last revision, the one where you're so sick of the story, the words, reading every page that you want to throw the book away..

I, obviously, do not love that revision.. but it is so important.

Stephanie Doyle said...

So true Sinead. It's just now - years later - where I find I'm enjoying it again. Where before I was so sick of it.

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