I've come a long way in one year of writing.
I now totally understand all the advice I read after finishing my first manuscript. Especially the advice to set it aside for six months. It was so much easier to delete and tear the thing apart after leaving it be. I kept the core story close to my heart, of course, but I could really see all the gunk I'd surrouned it with (and I hadn't been able to before).
I haven't even told erica this yet, but I trimmed my 116,000 word novel down to 62,000 words. Uh-huh. Wow, did I overwrite EVERY SINGLE DETAIL the first time around. It was incredibly BORING.
Yeah, me and my delete key went to town. Click, Drag to Highlight, Delete. Again and again and again.
Going back to that manuscript a year after finishing it helped me to see how much I've improved. I've still got a long way to go, but wowza...I did not write well back then!
I'm pretty sure I had an adverb in every sentence as well as tacked on to every dialogue tag. (I'm certain erica and Michael are nodding as they read this. So know that I'm NOT exaggerating.) Oh, and the dialogue tags were different every time. Every Time. I never, ever just wrote "said". croaked, gasped, yelped, yelled, cried, said petulantly, etc.
Oh, and if erica could get her hand on even my rewritten version, she'd rewrite every sentence with her amazing teen voice. Yeah, Dawn's vocabulary gets older sounding with every chapter. Sure, we want our MCs to grow and change as they venture through the novel, but would a 15 1/2 year old girl say "obliged"? (I'm sure erica would love to add a list of Dawn's mature vocabulary to the comments to show you all just how non-teen Dawn can sound sometimes!)
So, let's see: adverbs, dialogue tags (more like phrases) and vocabulary issues. What else can I add to those amazing blunders? Passive writing.
Again, just ask Michael and erica. Michael loathes the word "was" (when used too often ,of course) and erica frowns on the word "had". (Both of them hate my obsession with -ly words.) With them helping me, I'll become the most active writer ever!
You can't possibly imagine the number of times I used the word "was" in my manuscript. Twice per sentence. I swear it. She was running. He was hoping she'd see him standing there. Okay, these are made up, but these are the types of sentences I wrote over and over and over. HELLO! She ran. He hoped she saw him.
I'm still working on tackling the hads...and 'ds. When is it okay to use had and when should I just use simple past? We've looked into this, but I still look at my sentences and dissect them for longer than I should have to . (Don't get me started on lay and laid and lying....)
Another bit of advice I "just didn't have time to take" back when I used every spare second to write: READ THE GENRE YOU WRITE. Wow. That helps TONS!
So now I am.
This past Sunday the ABNA deadline loomed. So, stupidly, (YES, I refuse to give my -lys up on my blog) I sat and read The Hunger Games. (You all know how addicting it is. Can you blame me?) (I read while I eat my meals. When else can I sqeeze it in?) So, after breakfast, (I didn't notice my kids left the table to go play.) I sat and read until my husband said, "Are you crying?" And, yeah, I was. But, he distracted me enough to go and blow my nose and type away some more. Until that afternoon when I read for another 30 minutes. And wouldn't you know it, an hour (or less) more and I may have finished the dang manuscript before ABNA locked me out at 10:59PM (I even wrote during commercials for the Superbowl!).
No regrets. THANK YOU SUZANNE COLLINS!
I'm actually on the final chapter now and having passed the point of no return, this time away from the book is nothing less than painful. I need to go read now. And, lucky for me, the second and third books in the trilogy are waiting for me on my nightstand!
Happy Writing AND Happy Reading, Friends!