Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Editing Your Novel - Part 3 Misused, Overused, & Sticky Words

By Elva Cobb Martin

Editing a novel is a big job, but don't let it stress you. We've got a lot more help available today than a quill! 

In Part 1 we first strongly suggested you spend quality time planning your novel and finish your first draft before doing a lot of editing. And we reviewed the 10-Part steps to planning your novel that I've covered in earlier blogs starting in July, 2017. Go here to find the first step to planning your novel: http://bit.ly/2zPmZa1

In Part 2 we talked about a great editing program and covered ProWritingAid's "The Writing Style Report." This edit highlights several areas of writing that should be revised to improve readability, including passive voice, overuse of adverbs, repeated sentence starts, hidden verbs, unneeded words, and much more. And I gave examples from my wip.

Today, we continue with some of the great edits Pro-WritingAid.com will do for your manuscript.

The Grammar Report 
This works like the spelling and grammar checks in a word processor but does more. It makes sure the structure, punctuation and tense are correct. It will also check misuse of words like "adverse" for "averse" or "clinch" for "clench."

The Overused Word Report --covers a lot.
Overused words fall into five main categories:
1) Too Wishy-Washy
2) Telling Rather than Showing
3) Weak words/verbs dependent on intensifiers vs. stronger                     words/verbs.
       Examples: very hot vs. suffocating, 
                       walked vs. strode, marched, scrambled, tottered
                        strong voice vs. husky, strident, guttural
4) Non-Specific words 
5) Awkward Sentences

The Sticky Sentence Report--this is a fun one.
A sticky sentence is one that is full of glue words like in, of, on, the, at, if, that, then, over, in order, what, some.
   Example: John walked over into the backyard of the school in order to see if there was a new bicycle that he could use in his class.  (27 words)
   Corrected: John checked the school backyard for a new bicycle to use in class. (14 words)

Example from my historical romance wip, Marisol.

Cloaked in the early morning shadows of the cemetery, Marisol watched Captain Becket place flowers on his wife’s grave. He had finally returned from his long trip to England the night before, and the welcome sight of him caused her heart to hammer so hard she feared he might hear. His bronzed face, thick arms and chest befitted a seaman’s demeanor. Nothing remained to hint he’d once been the minister of the small rock church beyond the graveyard. How had a man of the clergy become what some might call a pirate?  
Ethan turned and she shrank behind a monument.
“Marisol.” His deep voice rooted her bare feet in the dew-laden grass.
He strode toward her. His heavy booted step, and the jangling of his sword and pistols startled birds into flight. He stopped a yard from her. “I’m glad you followed me. “I have some good news to tell you.”

Trembling, she looked up into his bearded face and startling grey eyes. 

First sentence corrected: How had a pastor become a pirate?
Second sentence corrected: "I have good news." 

Thanks for stopping by. Are these editing tips helping you? Please share on your social media by clicking on the small icons below.
Elva Martin

Elva Cobb Martin is vice-president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. She has two inspirational novels published with Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas. Summer of Deception, a contemporary romantic suspense, and an historical romance, In a Pirate’s Debt. Both have spent time on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers List for Women’s Religious Fiction. She has indie published a Bible study on Amazon, Power Over Satan, on the  believer's authority in Christ. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have carried Elva's articles. Jim Hart of Hartline Literary represents her. She and her husband Dwayne are semi-retired ministers. A mother and grandmother, Elva lives in South Carolina. Connect with her on her web site http://www.elvamartin.com,on Twitter www.twitter.com/ElvaCobbMartin; Facebook http://www.facebook.com/elvacobbmartin;  and Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/elvacobbmartin    
 Link to her romance novels and non-fiction works on Amazon:http://amzn.to/2pOgVHI