Monday, August 03, 2009

The Art of Revising - Polishing

Ideally, it’s best to read the whole manuscript out loud. You won’t believe how many things you’ll catch that way! However, I don’t always have time to do that, I’ll admit…what I do try to check for is:

Typos and misspellings

Weak words, especially verbs

Awkward phrasing

Wordy sentences (This is my Achilles heel. Bet you couldn't have guessed that...)


Adverbs (Although I must state I have a great fondness for adverbs. But the strong, expressive ones, not weak ones. Although sometimes I think those work for flow and balance.)

Echos (The same word showing up two or more times in rapid sequence. However, sometimes there really is no other word you can use, though, so you're stuck.)

Look for “to be” or was or were, see if stronger verbs could work there. (My rule of thumb is to keep the "to be" (or gerund) form of the verb if the action is continuous or ongoing. So, for example, He was walking across the street, then tripped. Which implies he tripped WHILE crossing the street. As opposed to, He walked across the street. He tripped. Which implies he tripped after he'd crossed the street. If that is the nuance of meaning you're going for, then keep the "was verbing".)