Maybe when I find a story I love I want to read it over and over, want to crawl into that warm and fuzzy place and let good characters or a good story surround me. It's the same thing with music. When I fall in love with a band, I fall hard. It might be the only thing I listen to for days, even weeks on end. It's the feeling I get when something clicks, when something makes sense, when it becomes as much a part of me as the blood running through my veins. It's an addiction, definitely. And I'm prone to addiction.
Anyway, I love my stories. Love them so much that when it comes time for revision, I want to just curl up on the couch and read them over and over (with a red pen at the ready, of course). I love chopping them up and putting them back together, love finding new words or phrasing, love tightening it up. Maybe I should have been an editor. I've always had an eye for grammar. In addition, I'm a fast writer - I choose to get ideas out quickly as opposed to lingering on a sentence or word even, trying to perfect it. Since I know lots of changes are inevitable, I save the lingering for revisions.
That said, I thought maybe it would be helpful to share some of my revision tips. These are the things I do before my last read, which happens right before I push it out to my faithful readers. All of the lingering and massaging has been done by this point.
Tips for Revision:
- Using the find function, search for the following words and if used more than say fifty times (this is for novels, folks), figure out how you can creatively nix/replace them:
- Suddenly (shouldn't be used at all, except in dialogue, maybe)
- Then (also shouldn't be used - replace with 'and')
- Smirk (okay to use, just not in place of smile or grin - it's not either)
- Afterward(s) (usually clunky - I try to never use)
- Realize (can be a filter - it's the author telling the reader what the character is thinking - psychic distance. Go straight into the action. For example: She realized tears were streaming down her face. Change to: Tears streamed down her face. It puts us right in the action without the filter.
- Only use two 'ly' words per printed page
- Only use two dialogue tags per printed page (always 'said' - if distinction is needed in dialogue, for example if three or more people are talking, use actions, not tags)
- Check for past perfect - be mindful of switching from past tense to past perfect tense. For example: A lump was rising in Anne's throat. This is past perfect. Past tense would be A lump rose in Anne's throat. Using 'was' and 'had' is okay when you need to distinguish it from current action (for example 'he had already started reading' implies he started a while ago while 'he started reading' means it just happened), but it takes us out of the action when used improperly.