I’m still working on the third draft of my first novel, which is going slower than I’d expected because I seem to have gotten my second wind. All kinds of new ideas are coming to me to add in, to make the story clearer, richer and more powerful.
Here are some of the revisions I still want to undertake, even after my third draft is complete:
I’d like to add more micro-detail and sensory description. I’m not talking paragraphs of descriptions—honestly I hate those and usually will skip them when I read a novel, unless they are written in the most engaging and entertaining fashion. I’m talking about adding a sentence or two, here or there or the perfect evocative word only where it would enhance what I’ve already written.
I am writing a fantasy, which should give a writer’s imagination free reign. But I’m not used to having free reign (or free anything else). So I need a bit of help. I need to focus on the five senses. I want my readers to be able to see, hear, and smell a whole different world when I get through.
(If I ever get through.)
I don’t consider that type of revision a whole new draft; it’s what I refer to as a “pass.”
Revision passes can substantially improve your draft-in-progress without you having to go through the whole thing word-by-painstakingly-crafted-word, helping you avoid becoming completely sick of your own manuscript.
Here’s an example of a revision pass:
I’m about to do a search of exclamation points, and delete most of them. They are definitely one of my writer-bad-habits. Yeah, I know they’re cheesy, the mark of the amateur, a sign of weak dialogue, the anti-Christ, etc. But the little buggers seem to sneak out automatically as I write! There’s one! Oops, there’s another one!
No matter. All I have to do is enter the much-maligned exclamation point into the find box, and then check each usage one-by-one and see if I really need that particular piece of punctuation.
Here’s another bad habit of mine, when writing in the first person. I tend to write, “I heard,” “I felt,” “I knew,” and other filters that remove the reader one teensy but vital step from really being in my narrator’s head. With find and replace, I simply search each one and evaluate each instance of it in the novel. I’m pleased to report that 99.99 percent of those figures of speech can come out, strengthening the scene quite a bit.
And what about “suddenly?” That’s another one I’m on the alert for. Do you use it all over the place, every time something . . . well . . . sudden happens? C’mon, you can admit it. We all do it. But it’s got to go.
Simply search and evaluate each instance of it, and I think you’ll like how your manuscript reads without it.
Find and replace is a tool that is simple to use and will save you tons of time.
Do you use find and replace to clean up your manuscripts? It’s a fantastic way of looking for overused words, passive voice, and any of your bad writing habits, and cleaning them up in short order. What do you use it for? Share your find and replace tricks with me in the comments!