Invisibility

Over the Christmas holiday I spent two weeks editing my first draft of The Memory Keeper sequel, now tentatively titled Sparrow’s Silence. Being very honest here, at the time I thought the first draft wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. There were some plot changes that had to be made as the characters came up with an ending I hadn’t expected, but overall it wasn’t as much torture as I’d feared. I came home and sent it off to my two trusted editors.

I’ve been working hard since. 

I seem to have a love of the passive voice. In particular those pesky ‘had’ and ‘was’ words. In my defense (read excuse), I struggled with this story. It was the first thing I wrote after three years of radiation fallout. You can see where I started getting into the rhythm of writing again, when the story started to smooth out. Right about the same time it was ending. That’s a good excuse but I’m still writing the same way. In this paragraph alone there are two uses of ‘was’ that I could have done without. I could have gone back and edited, changing ‘was ending’ to ‘ended’. But I wanted to show what I’m talking about.

What I can’t figure out is how those words managed to stay invisible when I did all the editing work over the holidays. I mean, I know what to look for. I do know how to use the ‘find’ tool in the Word programs. And yet I never did that because I never saw the words. So because they weren’t popping out, they didn’t exist and I didn’t need to search for them. All I needed to do was pat myself on the back for doing such a good first draft.

It’s a mystery how they all showed up after I got the revisions back. Maybe my editor friends added them in to keep me humble.

If so, they did an awful lot of work. I imagine my word count will have dropped in half by the time I’m done.

Well, maybe it’s not quite that bad, but still, I’m shaking my head. One editor gave up suggesting changes and just started highlighting every usage. You should see all the yellow. I now have a very sunny manuscript.

I need to figure out a way to rip off that invisibility cloak on the next story. Otherwise my two editing friends might run screaming when they see me coming with pages in hand.

 

14 thoughts on “Invisibility

  1. LOL! I know what you mean — but remember not every “was” should be removed from your writing. ONLY when it is a shortcut — when it “tells” rather than “shows” — circumvents action, if you will. Example: John was talking to Mary about the murder last night. vs. John talked to Mary about the murder — and now aren’t you tempted to add in how he was talking? Did he whisper, shout, worry, consult, just exactly what was going on in that conversation? How did he feel? What was Mary feeling? How did it end?

    At least that’s my criteria!

  2. I have a great deal of difficulty editing my writing. I want to see perfect and wonderful so I do. My downfall besides caarelessness is over using the word “I”. My best editing tool is to read out loud. Some how it all becomes real then. My ex was a good editor as well but he is an ex and no longer an option.

  3. ahhhhh, now I know where Lisa gets this from. Its Susan!!! LOL, funny that you Lisa have such a “problem” with that since you kept telling me what Susan just posted above. I think you might have just looked for other things while editing and those ones just fell by the way side… 🙂 and well, why do you have editors, they still need a job after all, right? You just keep them on their toes. 😉

    • Oh, it’s always easy to edit someone else’s work! That’s what makes me laugh, that the very things I see when editing someone else, are invisible when editing my own work.

    • LOL! It is impossible to fully edit one’s own work. You need other eyes — everyone does!

      And I’m closing in on the last of my editing on the new Thea Campbell. And, Lisa, I’ll be soliciting you for your astute editing within the week.

  4. Whew, it took me a long time to find those usages in your paragraph — I guess they’re invisible to me too (which probably means I lean on them too much in my writing as well)!

    But I’m very, very excited as always to hear about progress on this book. 🙂 And the new title intrigues me.

  5. It’s so strange, but a past writing professor pointed out I really tend to overuse certain descriptive words. She made a manuscript of mine look pretty sunny, and I found myself wondering where they all came from! So excited to hear about your progress!

  6. Every time I read one of my “finished” stories, I cringe. How does this happen and how can I make it stop? I guess we can never see ourselves clearly, even when we know what to look for.

    • I think it’s the emotional attachment, or the proximity to the work, where we think it’s one way when the reality is different. Kind of like the parent who thinks their child is an angel when the rest of us know differently. Well, that’s not the right analogy because I never think my work is perfect! But I’m sure you get what I mean. You’re right, even when we know what to look for, it slips right past us.

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