Revise, Rework, Rewrite

Posted On October 12, 2009

   1248: The number of pages in my thesaurus. Unlike the generation of teenagers I work with, I prefer the book to the online version. In my attempts at editing manuscript #3, Of Stars and Secrets, I believe I have read words on each of those pages. My thoughts drift back to my conversation with the instructor at the community college. “How do I know when it’s done?” I asked. “You’ll know,” she responded. I’ll begin the second edit of Chapter 19 (out of 48 chapters) today, and have already lengthened the amount of pages in this word document from 502 to 507. But the rewriting was necessary. The time and effort that I put into choosing the most appropriate words, structuring sentences to limit, or eliminate, dangling participles and thus confusion on the part of the reader, as well as including more information instead of jumping from fact to action is a necessity. And boy, is it hard work! I can spend over an hour on one chapter, and then ask myself, “Who wrote these sentences?” At the time, that was how the story moved through me and onto the paper (see previous blog “Understand”). The characters, plot, and setting are all the same. I add details, more exact words to assist the reader in creating as close to the same image in their minds as I had in mine when I wrote the story. And what I realize that compounds my reworking of the words is that for the first time I have written a sequel. If the first portion of the story is too vastly different from the second, then it will leave the reader questioning the purpose of the plot, and perhaps widening the gap between author and reader. I’d rather encourage the reader to ponder the questions that I leave for them at the end of the book regarding their beliefs, versus leaving them confused as to the purpose of a character or an event.

   1612: The number of pages in my dictionary. Since manuscript #3 and #4 are Science Fiction, I’ve had to create a lot of words. My typist sent me an email explaining that the names of places and races and beings have maxed out the spell check device on her computer. She was shown a box that warned her, “This program can no longer identify misspelled words in this document.” We’ve attempted a few ways to redirect the computer, but it has given up the game. Something to remember when I begin the trilogy that takes place in the near future and includes a war that brings an end to society as we know it. The dictionary is helpful most of the time, but on occasion I choose to invoke literary license and spell the word how I choose to, hyphenated or not, compound or two separate words. Most of the time I ignore the green underline warning me that what I’ve written is a fragment and that I should consider revising. Late at night I find myself blowing raspberries at my screen and its blatant telling that I’ve used ‘was’ instead of ‘were’ and that I don’t need to include ‘himself’ or ‘herself’ in the sentence.

   My goal is to eliminate as much confusion as possible with the readers. I want them to lose themselves in the story and not be distracted by typos or poorly worded sentences that take them out of their experience. In my first novel, Of Gifts and the Goddess, I was a very cruel writer who gave barely edited manuscripts to friends to read and fix. A few of them were so put off by the massive amounts of typos that they couldn’t finish the story. However, they did get a copy of the book and were able to enjoy what I had written. Unfortunately, the publisher that I had chosen to assist me in that endeavor was an unskilled editor herself, and several errors remained. Thanks to a few detail-orientated readers, I believe I have a list of all the words that need to be revised, and on the next printing, I will make sure those revisions are included. Hours, days, and weeks I spent with Of Dolphins and Desires. The vast amount of research I felt I needed to do in order to have the story be as authentic as possible took time and effort on my part and on those that I went to for their expertise. There are no experts that I feel I need to consult for Of Stars and Secrets, or its sequel, Of Prophesies and Promises. That doesn’t mean I’m not spending just as much time and exerting just as much effort to ensure that the story flows within each book, and between the books, so the reader may immerse themselves in the experience of the characters with as few distractions as I can humanly, inadvertently, include.

   Until the remaining 502 original pages of manuscript #3 are edited, revised, reworked, and rewritten, at least three more times, peruse the poems and short stories I’ve made available on my web site for your reading enjoyment.

Written by Michele Venne

Writer of immersive and intriguing stories.

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