Lessons from the Trenches

I'm working through the second round of revisions on Immaterial Evidence, and things are shaping up nicely. This week, I added almost 4,000 words to the opening and the climax, and I can't believe those scenes weren't there to begin with. Seriously, what was I thinking?

This novella will be my longest published work to date, and it's based on a character I've been writing about since I was a kid, so I'm motivated to polish it up till it shines. But in the words of Nacho Libre, let's get down to the nitty gritty.

Here are a few of my editor's notes on the first revision, which were accompanied by specific line edits in the manuscript:

1. Your beginning throws a lot of bits and pieces of information at the reader. While they are trying to get a handle on this new world, new characters, and ongoing action, they also have to keep track of piecemeal backstory. 

2. In some places, you perform unnecessary acts of telling.

3. Editorializing: I notice this is something you do in a lot of stories, and it kind of falls in that gray area. On the one hand, it’s interesting; on the other hand, it calls attention to itself, when you are probably better served keeping the reader tightly tied to the story.

4. Expletive pronouns: Also known as “dummy pronouns,” these are words like “it” and “there” that don’t have an antecedent and don’t really stand for anything. It’s raining is a classic example.

5. Filtering: Ella wondered if she was getting her message across. Not filtering/using deep POV: Was she getting her message across?

6. Participle phrases: When you start a sentence with an –ing verb, you are implying that the action in both parts of the sentence happened simultaneously. In practice, this is often impossible.

7. You are prone to writing long sentences with lots of prepositional phrases.

This is why I don't self-publish, folks. The input is priceless, and my craft improves along the way. When Immaterial Evidence is finally good to go, all the work will be well worth it. And when one of my novels eventually gets picked up, I'll know what to expectbut on a much larger scale.
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