Edits Galore

After a long slog to complete Chapter 9’s draft, I realized that my novel turned swampy somewhere in the previous chapters. Published authors tend to advise completing the draft before editing, but I’m a copy editor by training and a dabbler* by necessity.

The following list details the destruction I wrought editing I did to streamline and improve the readability of the story:

  • Swapped the first and second chapters. I resisted the change, although I’d heard repeatedly that male readers lose interest in female protagonists while female readers will read on. But girl-protagonist is weirder than boy-protagonist  – she’s a monster pretending to be a human girl, after all – so he’s a better lead.
  • Broke a long boy-chapter in half and inserted a girl-chapter. Then I removed a subplot from the girl-chapter (involving a supporting character I particularly liked – boohoo!)
  • Followed writer Brian Rowe’s advice to remove “ing” words. (“Easy way to improve,” my left foot, Mr. Rowe! It took me hours! But thanks all the same.)
  • Cut the “overused ten” that I’ve gleaned from various sources:
  1. Felt
  2. Looked/appeared/seemed
  3. Saw/noticed/observed
  4. That
  5. Just
  6. Started/began
  7. Really/very
  8. Immediately/suddenly
  9. Then
  10. Had

The end result was seven trimmed, crisp chapters that flow much better from scene to scene.


* The French is “dilettante,” which seems to be used an insult. In my case, the Young Human Factory is my main focus of energy (and anxiety!), so writing is my part-time pleasure.