Monday, October 18, 2010

Editing your Manuscript

I’m still under the weather folks, so I am going to make this brief.

My editor as well as several books I’ve read talks about adverbs. Consider adverbs as a strong spice that you’re cooking with. None will leave the meal bland; too much will spoil your hard work.

Specifically (that word is an adverb), do away with as many as possible. The ‘ly’ and ‘ing’ words mark you as an amateur.

What I did was to highlight all of these words in my ms. Now I can easily see them and decide if they need to be changed. Your goal is to have no more than one or two per page.

That is just one step in self editing. I wished I’d known this about five years ago. With that in mind, I’m passing this information on to you.

Does that help?


Marieke said...

I like the comparison - adverbs as strong spices. Too true!

N. R. Williams said...

Yes, that helps me understand the reason why. Thank you for your comment Marieke.

Jeff Beesler said...

I prefer most of my spice to come from action, dialogue, description, or from a trading route to Asia. And even then, I use the spices sparingly as I don't like to have steam coming out of my ears.

Seriously, though, I've been learning which words make a mess out of the writing. My latest target has been the word "that."

N. R. Williams said...

You make a good point Jeffrey. We all have certain words that we use too often.

Lou Belcher said...

Highlighting adverbs is a great suggestion. Then delete 90% of them.... I added that last part. I love strong writing that doesn't rely on adverbs and adjectives.

Golden Eagle said...

I'd heard of the adverb thing, but this comparison is much easier to grasp. It's an excellent suggestion!

Joanne said...

I have heard of the adverb advice, suggesting that the writing itself should communicate what the adverb does. I like your idea of highlighting them, to really pick up on if we're using too many.

N. R. Williams said...

I'm glad all of you like that idea. Thank you Lou, Golden and Joanne for leaving a comment.

Unknown said...

Frankly I'm way too lazy to use adverbs anyway. So this hasn't been a problem for me.

One or two a page, though? Wow. That's sparing usage. I suppose if that's the standard, it would make you evaluate each and every one and only keep the ones that were especially fantastically amazingly necessary.

Thanks for stopping by my blog the other day!


KK Brees said...

I loved Kristen's tongue in cheek response!!
4 adverbs in one sentence.

N. R. Williams said...

Kristen, You're welcome. I won't make it around to everyone today. Sorry about that. Your sentence is amazing.

KK, it did make me smile.

Anonymous said...

I really like the strong spice analogy!! Thank you!! And, I hope you feel better soon :-)

Unknown said...

Get well soon. Being under the weather's a drag.

Southpaw said...

I like this explanation because you’re not saying never you’re just saying season lightly. (like my use of ly there, did ya, did ya?)

N. R. Williams said...

Spice is a good analogy Paul.

Thank you Kay.

I do like that Holly.

Thanks all for leaving a comment.

Kay Tee said...

I like to use the AutoCrit Editing Wizard for finding the LY and ING words. It let's you know when you've got too many -- i.e. you've overdone the spice :-)

Lyla said...

I did this with my last line edit--it was hugely helpful. I cut 500 words ending in -ly... *blushes*

Anonymous said...

I did that with my MS. I did not realize I used the word "quickly" over 100 times. I got rid of all except for about three of the usages.

Stephen Tremp

N. R. Williams said...

Good idea Kay.

It's amazing how we rely on words and don't know it Lyla.

Stephen, that was good work.

Thanks everyone for leaving a comment.

Carolyn V. said...

I hate the ly adverbs. They always sneak into my ms. =)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

They sure do! I go out of my way now not to use anything with an LY at the end.

N. R. Williams said...

Carolyn, I hear you there.

L. Diane, I had the same thought but recently I read an award winning first chapter and came across a couple of ly words. So I guess it is the total context.

Thank you both for your comments.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Oh! I hope you feel better soon!
Great advice to be wary of the ly and ing words. And don't forget 'very'.

N. R. Williams said...

Very is one of those unimportant words that we use so much in our conversations that we forget about it. Good advice Lynda.

Thanks for leaving a comment.

Anonymous said...

The 'strong spice' analogy really helps, thank you

N. R. Williams said...

You're welcome eeleenlee. I know it helped me when my editor used it. I expanded on it a little to add the not enough.