While we have been working in our (my wife’s) garden, between rainy days, cleaning up weeds, volunteer trees and leaves, we have been talking about cleaning up the two years’ worth of bird droppings and green mold from the railings and edges of our Trek decking. Our deck is a three-level beauty, designed by Catherine. The deck is a joy to sit on and a great place to entertain, but it’s a bear to clean. We have noticed the birds’ ‘gifts’ deposited on the railings and the mold creeping across the banisters, and meant to get out and take care of them, but other things got in the way. We got too busy, worked too hard, it got too hot to work on the deck, and we were just too lazy.
In retrospect, we should have paid more attention to what was happening, because we have let a minor job turn into a major one, once again. Oh, yes, we’ve faced this challenge before.
Last time we cleaned, we spent about five hours cleaning the railings and about two feet around the lower two decks, scrubbing, rubbing, and rinsing. We even cleaned some spots with a toothbrush! Then we cleaned the center of the two lower decks, the steps, and the balcony.
This cleaning exercise, that we have to do again, is a lot like revising a book—you have to take the time to get rid of all the crap you let accumulate. That’s every time you write.
We’re not saying our books, or even your books, are crap. We all write well, right? But it’s so easy to get lazy and let a lot of stuff slip in like passive voice, adjectives, groaning dialogue tags, purple prose, slow pacing, and way too much back story, until, like the railings of our deck covered in bird droppings, you can no longer see the beauty of your original creation. We don’t know about you, but we hate revisions and would rather do everything we can to get our books as clean as possible the first go around.
So, here are six tips we use to get the bird droppings out of our writing.
• Reread the previous days’ work. This not only gives a fresh look at your writing but also helps get back in the groove. If you’ve been away from a WIP more than few days you might even go back to the previous chapter. By revisiting each chapter, you get a head start on the small revision stuff.
• Write with grammar check turned on. You can set grammar check to highlight a lot of things, but the most important use we have found is to highlight passive writing. Having attuned yourself to those squiggle grammar check lines, the passive verbs are very clear to see. A glance tells where you need improvement in this area. Not every passive sentence can be revised into an active one, but many can and doing so will make your writing stronger.
• Do a search for “LY” on each chapter as you complete it. It’s amazing how many of those sneaky adjectives creep in.
• Look for long paragraphs. Too little white space on a page can often be a warning sign of heavy narrative, back story, or too much description.
• Check every page for tension. Donald Maas says we should have tension on every page. It doesn’t have to be bang ‘em up, slam ‘em up tension, but there needs to be something that keeps the story humming along.
• Do a check of dialogue. Are there too many “he saids” or “she saids.” Or are there too many lines with no dialogue or action tags? Have you gritted or laughed the dialogue? Teeth are gritted not words, and how in the world do you laugh words? We know we can’t.
These six items may seem like little steps toward revision, but sweating the small stuff now can make your major revisions easier. And who doesn’t want that?
What do you do as you write to help your revisions go faster?
Now here is a little about our paranormal series, The Turning Stone Chronicles.
Three ancient Celtic families. A magical Bloodstone that enables the wearers to shape shift. A charge to use the stone’s power to benefit mankind, and a battle, that is going on even today, to control the world. Can the Secret Society of shape shifters called the Turning Stone Society heal itself and bring peace to our world? Find out in the series The Turning Stone Chronicles.
The Promised One, book one:
When homicide detective Alexi Jordan is forced to use her shape shifting powers to catch a paranormal killer, she risks the two most important things in her life—her badge and the man she loves.
Blood Brothers, book two:
Shape shifter Delaney Ramsey’s daughter is missing, and she is bound by honor to protect the man she suspects of the deed. To bring him to justice, she must go against her code, the leader of the secret shifter society, and the police captain she is falling for.
Son of the Moonless Night, book three:
Thrust back into the world of paranormal huntress, Deputy Coroner Katrina Romanovski must unravel a string of murders she believes are vampire attacks. When she discovers the shape shifter she’s in love with is the murderer, she must reconcile her feelings for him, examine her life of violence against paranormals, and justify deceiving him in order to bring him to justice.
The Mercenary and the Shifters, book four:
A desperate call from an ex-military buddy lands a mercenary soldier in the middle of a double kidnapping, caught in an ancient shape shifter war, and ensnared between two female shape shifters after the same thing … him.
C.D. Hersh–Two hearts creating everlasting love stories.
Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after.
The books of their paranormal romance series entitled The Turning Stone Chronicles are available on Amazon. They also have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven other authors. Also a standalone novella, Can’t Stop The Music, in a collection with thirteen other authors.
They look forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life.