Tuesday, November 25, 2008

After the Rewrite

So yeah, I've got the major rewrite done. I'm still not happy with the last chapter, and it still needs a spit polish, but the end is in sight. A lot of changes with this rewrite. Added 9k words--after deleting/changing probably as many (although my word count stands at almost 75k now, which I'm a bit worried is too high). Totally redid the beginning--with a much more distinct voice--so now I've got to make sure that voice is consistent in the rewrite. Totally redid the end. Whew. I'm tied thinking about it.

So, plans for now? Well, first I'm going to pay a pro to look at the first 3 chapters or so and see how that goes. I've wanted to do this for awhile, but I wanted to wait until I made the book as good as I could get it on my own. I'm going to continue sending my pages out to my crit group. I'm going to do one last spit polish--basically attacking passive verbs and injecting a bit more subtle humor into the pages and make sure that the storylines all add up nicely. After some more feedback on the story line and after the pro gets back to me, I'll do one last read-through. Then submissions.

I think I'm going to use Wordle for each of my chapters to make sure I don't repeat too many of the same words and have the right focus in my chapter. I recently found someone in my neighborhood who is also writing for kids, and we swapped pages and met last weekend. She noted that I over used the word "hissed." (As in: "Satan, begone from my manuscript!" she hissed.) I had not realized at all that I did this--I just wanted to use something more graphic than "said" without resorting to an adverb. (As in: "Satan, don't make me tell Jesus on you!" she said contemptuously.)

So I did a search. Of my 75k manuscript, I had 21 uses of the word "hissed" (and much of that, I think, is in the first chapters). So yeah, gotta go change that. Then I thought I'd see where my other overused words were. Here's the list:
  • just: used 286 times (another word I tend to overuse, pointed out by a crit member)
  • asked: used 234 times (not bad, right?)
  • were: used 359 times (umm. That's a lot.)
  • had: used 584 times (oh dear)
  • said: used 748 times (starting to feel a bit panicky at that...that's not good, right?)
And here's the kicker--the point where I really started hyperventalating and wishing I had never thought to seek out my overused words:
  • was: used 1,207 times!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
They say the first step to correcting a problem is to admit you have one. So, um, my name is Beth and I write too many weak-verb sentences. Back to the drawing board...


Keri Mikulski said...

Yikes.. I need to check smiles and amazing. :) Congrats on the rewrite and good luck. :)

Bowman said...

I checked my "was" count once, and I had several hundred occurrences in my manuscript. I rechecked just now, and I have 124.

Ouch, apparently I used "that" over 600 times. :( It never ends!

Unknown said...

124 was-es...wow! That is impressive.

Hmmm...I don't think I checked "thats"...I better do that now!

Bowman said...

The good part is you can use Word to find problem words, then use your creativity to replace them. I would say we have it easier than authors of the past, but I doubt they had to compete with hundreds or thousands of other aspiring authors each week.

Unknown said...

True, true... *sigh*

christine M said...

Sounds like you are on the road to having a fantastic manuscript!

Vivian Mahoney said...

You are so funny. Now you know, there's no stopping you. Good luck with this!

Have a great Thanksgiving.

Unknown said...

Chris, it's a very bumpy road! Viv--thanks...at least I do have turkey to cheer me up now :)

PJ Hoover said...

Knowing what you need to fix is great!

lotusgirl said...

wow! You're almost done! I had never thought of checking word occurrence with the computer. What a great idea. Now I'm really scared. I know this will show me where more of my weaknesses lie. sigh!