I've been having fun the past few days, re-reading some of my draft work. It is fun at the moment, because I'm not seriously editing, simply reading through and getting a feel for the flow of the story, and circling the more obvious (and therefore ridiculous) mistakes. Things like where a character is eating deep-fired pork instead of deep fried, or a character with short, spiky hair suddenly has hair long enough to brush her shoulders. Slightly inconsistent.
As I said, it is fun. Particularly is I distance myself sufficiently from the writing. It really does become a simple game of search out mistakes and annihilate them. And I have always been good at that. It is one of the reasons I don't mind editing drafts in my day job as a teacher; I find the process of circling and correcting somewhat relaxing. What I find less fun is actually going through and rewriting major stretches of writing, changing track when something isn't working, eliminating characters and dialogue, and then realising that in the process of all of this I've added another thousand mistakes to a previously edited text.
Part of what I do, when checking flow, is try to identify overused words and phrases. I have a few that I am overly fond of and I know that I use the with alarming regularity. I pepper my pages with words like 'dismay', 'surprise', 'sighed' (a lot of my characters seem to be sighing, I just hope my readers don't), 'easier', 'moment', and 'warmth'. So I read through the text again on a search and destroy mission. Find them and disappear them (obviously not every single one, just enough that it no longer makes the reader want to scream in frustration at the sight of them).
I'm reminded of Lily Allen's song 'The Fear'.
"Forget about guns and forget ammunition, because I'm killing them all on my own little mission."
My little mission, to eliminate unnecessary repetition and redundancies. Only time will tell if I'm successful or not, but it won't be from lack of trying. But then again, I forgot how many times I described that characters eyes - another must fix drama.
All and all, I'm kind of pleased with this latest draft. Unlike the previous manuscript that I wrote in December and after two rewrites it still doesn't actually make sense from a narrative perspective, the first draft of this has come out more or less readable. Certainly there are some rough edges and a few minor points of clarification, a couple of out right contradictions, a mentioned storm that never appears, and a stolen car that appears out of nowhere without any seeming consequences, but for a first draft reads quite well.
I'm back to search and destroy, but remember Guest Blog tomorrow with Elizabeth Spann Craig.
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