Congratulations to Kathy Weichman who won Beginnings Middles & Ends by Nancy Kress. Thanks to all of you who contributed to the this series. You can find the previous posts here: Part I and II included General Advice; Part III was on Deep Point of View; and Part IV was on Story Making.
"During my time as a facilitator of various writing groups, I saw the tendency of overusing the words ‘that’ and ‘was’.
THAT is a word THAT should not be used THAT often.
It is reasonable to say, eighty percent of that’s are not necessary.
"WAS is another overused word that takes away from the action. I once had a writing assignment in college where the professor wanted a two thousand word story written without the use of ‘was.' Almost impossible to do. Try replacing 'was' with action words or dialogue. If you use it more than ten times in a two thousand word story, you are abusing the word.
"Misplacing a comma can turn the meaning of a sentence into something other than intended. Always place a comma before a person’s name when used in dialogue.
“Let’s go out and eat Nancy.”
“Let’s go out and eat, Nancy.”
"In the first example, it looks like Nancy is dinner.
In the second example, with the comma before Nancy’s name, the meaning isn’t so graphic." Tommy Styles, short story writer.
"Editing will require you to kill phrases, paragraphs, maybe even entire chapters or characters that you love. Sometimes they’ll be the bits you think are clever and beautiful and certain to be the ones your fans will be quoting and sharing on social media. You must be willing to do it anyway. You must learn to become brutally analytical about your own work. If it doesn’t help the story, it is not necessary. Period." Shannon Wiersbitzky, author of What Flowers Remember.
"I am beginning an extensive revision and working hard to cut what needs to be cut, but it helps to remember that what is cut doesn't need to be trashed. It can be saved to be used another day. Maybe it won't, but it's easier to cut when I have that mindset." Kathy Cannon Wiechman, author of Like A River.
"When you cutting, words, sentences, paragraphs don't just throw them away. That's too emotional for many of us. Open a "shards" or "discards" file for each WIP and save those cuttings. You'll be able to use them another day in another project." Jean Hall, founder of Write2Ignite.
"Writing and publishing is a long-term pursuit, so don't rush what you are working on, and don't submit before it is polished. Revision is the key to publication." Christine Kohler, author of No Surrender Soldier.
"Put away your work for a good while before revising." Rosi Hollenbeck, SCBWI critique group coordinator for Northern and Central California and blogger.
"There comes a time to put down the writing books, the notes from conferences and classes, the "he said she said" telling you what to do or not to do and JUST WRITE THE STORY THAT'S IN YOUR HEART. Sandra Warren, author of Arlie the Alligator.
If you need more inspiration, check out Janice Hardy's month of outstanding at-home revision blogs. Kathy Temean has an excellent list of things not to miss when editing your work. And here are some top editing and proofreading tips from the folks at Romance University.
Finally, here is advice from a fourth-grade teacher; I use this quote whenever I teach writing:
"The red pencil is your best friend."