Wednesday, July 3, 2013

IWSG - Revision Hell

 It's time for another installation of The Insecure Writer's Support Group, which posts on the first Wednesday of every month and is run by our Ninja Captain Alex Cavanaugh. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Seriously, I love this support group!

Today, I'd like to talk about "Revision Hell". I've not been blogging very much lately since I've been deep in revisions for two of my novels. Quite a bit of work, but I've actually come to enjoy it. Yes, this means I haven't had to kill any of my darlings lately. Whew! I still suck at writing kissing scenes, but I've learned a few things that I wanted to share with you.

Krista's Sorta-Helpful Revision Tips

1. Double spacing.
I have a serious problem with this. My critique partner pointed it out to me recently that you are not supposed to put two spaces after a period at the end of the sentence. It used to be okay when we used typewriters, but it isn't necessary anymore. It's a really hard one to break!

2. He said, she said.
We are taught to use dialogue tags at the end of a sentence to tell the reader who is speaking. But it isn't always necessary. Show what the speaker is doing; the action not the telling. Here's an example from my novel, Breathless:

“Wanna go swimming this afternoon? I wanna wear my new swimsuit I found at the flea market last week,” Rachel said excitedly. “Pretty please?” 
“I don’t know. I have so many things to do,” Lainey said. “I have to plan my 401K and pick out my retirement home.”
Rachel was annoyed. “You waitress at Murray’s Café a few days a week; I doubt you need a 401K, and you aren’t old.”

And here's the same passage without using said:

“Wanna go swimming this afternoon? I wanna wear my new swimsuit I found at the flea market last week.” Rachel bounced up and down on her toes. “Pretty please?”
“I don’t know. I have so many things to do.” Lainey laughed. “I have to plan my 401K and pick out my retirement home.”
Rachel rolled her eyes dramatically. “You waitress at Murray’s Café a few days a week; I doubt you need a 401K, and you aren’t old.”

3. Active, not passive.
Avoid using "ing" and "was". Instead of saying "She was driving home after Peter's death, listening to the wipers thumping." - say "She drove home after Peter's death to the thump, thump of the wipers." It makes it seem like the action is happening, not that it happened, even if you do write in past tense.

4. Repeating the same physical action
My characters are NEVER allowed to roll their eyes. Never. The wonderful Cassie Mae did a read-through of my novel "Breathless" and pointed out how many times Lainey rolled her eyes. Yeah, be careful of writing your characters doing the same thing too many times. It gets annoying.

What tips would you add to give suggestions for those who are deep in Revision Hell? What's the word or phrase that you find yourself repeating too many times in your manuscripts? I'm not allowed to have a character roll their eyes or overuse the word "that".


  1. i love reading tips, especially now that i am in revisions and need it BAD!!

  2. Excellent tips! Cassie Mae is a superstar when it comes to tidying up an MS!

  3. These are some great tips, I struggle with using 'said' and being passive.

  4. Don't forget repeat words. That's my crux. Excellent tips with great examples!

  5. The double space thing is one of my pet peeves! Break the habit! It's not necessary! :)

    Allison (Geek Banter)

  6. Great tips. :) 'That' and 'just' are bad ones for me. And I recently found out 'all' is, too. Keep plugging away, Krista!

  7. Like David, I have a tendency to repeat words or leave them out entirely.

    Happy Wednesday. ☺

  8. I touched on this on my post. I use the word just way too much! I've been reading MSS for my internship and I can say that I see a LOT of adverbs and everyone dwells on a guy's eyes (seriously how many times in your life have you fallen in love with some guy's eyes...or they actually were a glowing emerald green etc. The best tip I got recently was using the "Find and Replace" feature in word to get rid of the double space problem. Such a hard habit to break LOL. Good luck with the revisions!

    Meredith’s Musings

  9. Find and replace feature?! Thank you Meredith! (above.)
    Great post and great delivery.
    ~Just Jill

  10. Great tips, Krista! I would add buried dialogue. :)

  11. Just finished editing one of my books and on to the next and I can't tell you how many times I ran into "was" in the middle of sentences sometimes two times in one. I got to the point where I just delete them on sight.

    Don't worry you'll come out of it alive. It does end, eventually.

  12. Great revision advice!

    I used to add in so many "he said" and "she said"s in my novels. Thankfully the problem's been remedied, at least a bit!

  13. Revision hell. It's a fun place to be ;)

    Every ms is different for me. Like, one I had to watch how many times I used the word "butt." Another I had a bad case of people scratching their noses. Funny how that happens, lol.

  14. Cassie was one of your critique partners? Isn't she awesome? I have never laughed so hard reading her comments on my third book. And I mean that in a good way.
    That passive stuff is killer to get rid of. We know not to write it, and yet we do.

  15. Revision is a crazy time, but it really does make a book better. For me, I have to be careful of words I know too much. I will do a search and find and make sure I haven't overdone it. Plus, I get rid of just and very the same way.

    My second book was 3rd person (after my first was 1st), so I really had to watch misplaced pronouns.

    "Maddie, Reagan, and Jackie ran from the madman. She didn't make it."

    Kind of important to know the "she" in that one. ;-) Great post!!

    My IWSG Post

  16. Brilliant tips! Thanks so much for sharing. :)