Sunday, September 13, 2009

Scrub, Scrub, Polish, Polish

I forgot that I had not sent "Under Observation" to Analog, so I prepared a submission this morning. I made three editing passes through it:
  • Pass 1 examined the whole thing for sneaky little phrases of telling instead of showing. I want as few words as possible. Every one must count.
  • Pass 2 used an advanced Word feature called Search by Word Form. This allows me to do a search and replace for "to be" verbs. Some of them--like those in dialog--were necessary. But those outside of dialog is where more telling instead of showing might be hiding. Therefore, I scrutinized each one.
  • I didn't do it this time, but another thing to search for are -ing words. Gerunds can infuse blandness into your story. I'll think of it next time, but I usually avoid gerunds, anyway.
  • Pass 3 examined the document for words ending in "ly". A few adverbs snuck in there. I zapped them.
This was after I had printed it twice. For both printings, I had made a lot of red marks just trying to tighten it up. For some reason, I continue to see problems better in hardcopy than on the computer.

I have an old typewriter that someone gave me. I use it to type up addresses on my envelopes. Luckily, the carriage is wide enough for a 9 by 12 envelope. I kind of like typing on the typewriter, but not enough to give up my computer.

I don't read many of the larger short story magazines. I find the taste in certain magazines far outside mine. It seems to me that they're writing to win awards rather than attract readers. But I do like Analog. If you've never read them, give them a try!

2 comments:

  1. I find hard copy makes it easier to spot problems as well--which is kinda ink-consuming when you have novels or multiple drafts of longer stories to print, lol.

    Analog is a fun magazine--best of luck with the sub. :)

    (Also, great post--I love seeing how people break down their revision/editing/polishing methods.)

    ~Merc

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  2. I'm the same way about hard copy. I try to avoid printing as much as I can because ink is expensive and my husband is cheap, but it really is the best way to edit and revise.

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