What I’ve Learned So Far From My Book Edits

Posted on 22 August 2011

1. While I always knew I had a problem overusing the word just, I had no idea that I played so fast and loose with very. My editor has suggested cutting this word multiple times, and I completely agree. Sometimes I think just can play a role in the rhythm of a sentence, or else add some other intangible quality (that’s what I tell myself, anyway), but these verys? Not so much. Many of them are getting axed, and the ones that remain will now be there for a conscious reason.

2. Track Changes is both my friend and my nemesis.

3. You can spend years with a story, years, and still have weird typos. I’m talking about stories that I have read probably 50 times or more, that have been through multiple writing group critiques, and that I’ve revised again and again. Maybe they were even published elsewhere. But still these persistent, hidden typos. Examples: Instead of the word “roads,” I had “rounds,” or little things like “she leans in a closer”  or “without looked back.” Some of these errors have been in place since 2006.

4. I need to admit to myself that I don’t speak Czech and, at least in that respect, I have no idea what I’m doing.

Do you know what you’re doing? What languages do you speak? Are you on good terms with Word’s Track Changes?

Photo: PinkFarasha

11 responses to What I’ve Learned So Far From My Book Edits

  • Lyra says:

    1. Just is my nemesis.
    2. I was reading a scene from a friend’s WIP and all I say is I felt as if I was editing with a crayon. I ended up hiighlighting a bunch of sections and then sending a two page e-mail on a five page scene in attempt to explain my thoughts.
    I would have been much more helpful with a typed out version and a crayon.
    Must learn Word’s Track.
    3. I do this all the time! We skim over the same sentences repeatedly. It must mean it’s paced do well that you don’t see the words…
    4.Don’t admit it. You do speak Czech…just a different version…a very, very obscure version….

  • Downith says:

    I overuse just very much too.
    And yes every time I read something, even the 17 billionith time I will find an error.

    I speak French and Canadian. Still working on English.

  • Lyn says:

    Hi, Laura,

    “Just” is my constant failing and so are hidden typos, embedded like North Carolina ticks in my writing, never mind the ability to say the same thing both concretely and abstractly (insert example, then overexplain it).

    I see that you won James Jones last year…a belated congrats. I heard from them last week.



  • Tricia says:

    Seems! Out out damn seems!

  • Teri says:

    Just just just just!!! And seems. What do these 2 words have in common? HESITATION. Lack of confidence in my sentence, in what I’m trying so desperately to say.

    And starting sentences with And.

  • lisahgolden says:

    Another just abuser here. It’s my crutch.

    I love/hate track changes. I love it for my little editing jobs for other people, but for myself? Too cluttered!

    Now I’m off to do a find on the words just, seems, and very. I’m afraid. Extremely afraid.

  • OMG–“just.” I recently counted it six times in a SINGLE page of my ms!

    I’ve also been told I overdo the words frowned, smiled, shrugged, sighed, and nodded, among many others.

    What the hell is a character to do, if she can’t just frown, smile, shrug, sigh or nod? Just nothing.

  • Averil Dean says:

    My blog posts are fairly just-riddled too, but I’ve managed to keep it out my fiction. Mostly. However, my characters are always taking “a moment” or “a long moment”. Every time I need a beat, there it is. Another freaking moment.

    What did writers do before the “find” command?

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