Writing Wednesday

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!). 


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!


  1. You cut your manuscript by half?! Fearless!

    I loved The Hunger Games, so I don't blame you. Try next year.

  2. Christy, can you edit mine down? I would ask Erica, but she likes that I'm BIG and looong

  3. Oh, and I love the chatting stats on the right! I'm so gunning for Gideon's top spot

  4. The Hunger Games rocked. I need to read the second and third book too. I'm in the cut it out phase as well. Lots to learn.

  5. Loved, loved, loved The Hunger Games. WTG on the editing!! And I think if the gods of grammar didn't want us to use adverbs, they wouldn't have given us blogs. ;)

  6. Wow! You really hammered out a HUGE chunk of stuff!! Awesome job! Isn't it wonderful to be able to see why those things have to go? I love that feeling, that I learned how and why something doesn't work.

  7. Sounds like you are making great progress! I haven't read any of those books yet, I'm busy playing in 19th century Lit and Chaucer for classes. Have a wonderful day! Happy writing and reading!

  8. It took me a bit but now I completely understand the need to leave a script for awhile and then come back to it. It's especially easy to do by writing another book in the meantime. You'll be just fine, I know it! Keep up your good work. I'm hoping for big things for you. Good luck with Hunger Games. I loved it until the last book. I read them when they were new and had to wait 6 months in between each book. By the third book I wasn't as enthralled. Don't worry about it though, most everyone else in the world loved all three equally. Happy Reading and Writing!

  9. Congrats girl that's excellent! Sounds like you've learned a lot with your editing. And you're right, The Hunger Games is an awesome distraction.

  10. Wow, great job hacking, Christy! I feel like you too- a year after I started and I notice all my "was's" and adverbs and all that.

    Have fun with the rest of Hunger Games.

  11. Don't give up all your HADS! I blogged on this this week--Past perfect is IMPORTANT if you are writing in past tense to any description you give that was already established BEFORE the current action.

    You don't want to OVER use it... but say, for an introduction to a paragraph of description, that first sentence HAS TO be in past perfect. It is appropriate to any past past... straight old past tense sounds like it is part of the current action...

    Great to feel like you've accomplished so much, though!

  12. Theresa-I wish I could say with an incomplete manuscript that I didn’t try this year, but, well…I had entered myself in ABNA thinking it’d be a big enough goal to push for that I’d finish in the week I allowed myself, but I did. I entered and when ABNA locked me out I had a paragraph to go. Whoops. Hope nobody here thinks too much less of me for being an irresponsible procrastinator!
    Mike-…I’ll just let Erica respond. And I’m not sure anyone can be more dedicated than Michael. Sorry, not trying to discourage you.
    Christine-Best of luck! Cutting can be kind of fun. I just definitely needed the time away first to be able to enjoy it.
    Su-YOUR COMMENTS ALWAYS ROCK MY DAY. You always say something to make me giggle. Love it!
    Colene-It is! It also makes me think…Wow, what else don’t I know yet???
    Summer-That sounds fun, too! Good luck to you!
    Patty-Yeah, I’m SOOOO glad I can just keep going like they’re all one big book. Oh no! That’s a huge letdown to feel disappointed! At least you can learn from it and NOT do whatever bugged you in your books, right? I hope you are doing well.
    Abby- It’s funny. With some things it doesn’t matter how many times people tell me things about writing better, until I see it for myself it just doesn’t click. I suppose that’s something to keep in mind with the kiddos at school….

  13. Hart- You snuck in there on me! Thank you! erica and I did research and come up with that, but they way you wrote it clarified it for me. I do believe I overused it, just as I overuse my self-talk....SO much overuse in my amateur writing. With all of my blogging pals help, I'm bound to become better over time! I appreciate it!

  14. Way to go, Christy! I'm in the middle of hacking up my own WiP. I did a search for "was" and I think I'd used it 2600+ times...(I know...). It was a revelation, really. And I definitely owe this great blogging community for some helpful tips!

  15. Wow, christy, I thought you were shooting for 80,000. Hope you left in all the good stuff. :)

    Mike, you're ridiculous. ;)

  16. Hey are you sure it was your mss you were talking about, not mine! Wow, same probs. I do love to slash and burn though. I hope your mss came up sparkling.

    I just gave one of my students The Hunger Games to read. No doubt you've been told there's not much use reading the third book.

    And BTW not sure I ever thanked you for putting up my Publication Party button. Thanks also for visiting.

    Have Lisa Maliga up this week.

    Happy writing/editing.


  17. Wouldn't you know, the day my internet service conks out on me for hours because of another wonderful wind storm that I'm a day late for this post.


    Christy I am so proud of you... I know how hard it is to literally cut you ms i half.... I am doing another major slice off on Amber. As you know, it started at 125,500 and I thought I was good at 70,000. Well for Y/A that would be perfect, but not for M/G so now I back to "murdering" my ms. Poor Amber. I hope what's left will be enough.

    I've been working on it all week. I hoping for 55,000. OUCH! This is going to be tough. I have only a few precious adverbs and name tags left.

    I'm at 64,900, and I have about another 190 pages to go. I might make my goal. I will keep you posted.

    I am honored you group me with Erica. I know what a help she has been to you. Whatever I did, I was glad to do it for you.


  18. That's some serious editing, nice one! I must put The Hunger games on my to read list.


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