Because I'm thinking revision, I thought I might share with you a few thoughts about how I work through a manuscript the second, third, fourth, umpteenth time.
In addition to smoothing all those plot inconsistencies, adding twists and turns, and working on character-deepening, and there are a few things I "checklist" as I revise. Here they are:
- Find all the "ly" words (i.e., adverbs) by using the Word search feature and eliminating most.
- Search for "it is/was" and "there is/was". It's almost always stronger to use different phrasing. (Or...Phrases are almost always stronger without "it's".)
- Search for places where my character "felt," "saw," "looked," etc. When I'm really inside my character, those phrases aren't necessary.
- Search for sentence "flow." In particular, I look sentence by sentence for stronger first and last words.
- Search for passive voice and other indicators of "telling."
- Try to make sure there's tension on every page.
- Remove dialogue tags wherever possible. Even "said" can get in the way when only two people are talking.
- Make sure gesture substitutes for internal thoughts wherever possible.
- Look for those things that popped up in my subconscious and may be amplified - recurring metaphors or images.
- Watch for repetition.
I try to do a dedicated pass for each of these items. These are really the last bits - if the story needs to be stronger in general I try to use some of the exercises that Donald Maass uses in his Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook.
Now - back to work...and I promise, back soon with RLAW!