Editor Leah got back with her notes for draft two of Every Vow You Break (formerly known as Novel #2). There were two of them: 1) it’s brilliant and 2) she loves it. The story, plot, character and setting notes from draft one are now all fixed! Hurrah!
Before it goes to the copy editor, though, I’ve asked for another couple of weeks to get right on down to the word level, polishing each sentence so that it conveys as succinctly as possible what I am trying to say. I’m also:
- looking out for repeated words and overused words
- making sure my sentences are varied in length and rhythm and don’t all start with pronouns (makes for boring paragraphs)
- Knocking out clichés unless they are either the only way of describing something, or a character note
- Getting rid of as many adverbs as possible, by rephrasing if necessary to make the sentence more dynamic
- Losing the passive voice unless it is making a point.
I was surprised at how much of all this I didn’t spot in Cuckoo until the copy editor’s notes came back, and I’m determined that this novel will need a lot less work on it when she gets her hands on it. My dream is one note: nothing to correct. Unlikely, though… it’s easy to let one or two things slip in 120,000 words.
To help me, I’m using this amazing software called AutoCrit, which analyses the text and points up most of what I am looking for. I felt as if I was cheating when I first gave it a go, (I even hesitated about writing about it here) but no-one would query the use of a spellcheck, and, if used properly and carefully, this is really just one stage beyond.
It’s most useful for finding repeated words, which are very easy to not see if you are reading something for the twentieth time, but it pinpoints a lot of other very useful stuff as well. My only caveat is that it shouldn’t be used too slavishly. Style is a very subjective thing, and you shouldn’t let any software interfere with that. You need to know what you’re doing to use it effectively, and, obviously, you still need to read your text very closely indeed. It’s quite helpful, though, for pointing out one’s own individual foibles – those lazy little tics that we tend to revert to when we are too busy telling our story to consider fully whether we are doing so in the best way.
Anyway, give it a go – you can use it on up to 500 words for free. I’d love to hear if anyone else has used it and what you think about it.
Back from Edinburgh soon, not a moment too soon. I’m all festivalled out. But I’ve had a great time, and LittleSon has really enjoyed seeing at least two shows every day. We’ve also snuck off to do some less highbrow things too – Cowboys and Aliens, which I enjoyed far more than my critically acute eleven year old boy, and the Edinburgh Dungeon, which scared both of us witless.