Thursday, October 1, 2015

 #10 Revision is a Process

This is Part 10 of a 12-part series on Revision is a Process @ 2015 - Catherine E. McLean

All Rights Reserved

October 2015 — Special Checks

There are innumerable ways to write badly. The usual way is making sentences that don't say what you think they do. - Jack Hamann

Consider the magic spell that reading casts on the reader.  You see these words of mine, and although you do not see me, you "hear" my voice as you read. 

Now, consider how many times you've read a book and been so engrossed in the story that you were transported to that story world and forgotten what time of day it was. Wasn't that a wonderful story?

As a writer, you want to be the great magician, one who casts that very same spell on your readers by hypnotizing them with the words on a page. So, you can see that it's not enough to be able to write— you have to become a sorcerer with words.

Which bring me to a secret about being a good writer who can tell a story well. That secret is to be hyper-alert and hyper-vigilant so that no distractions occur. You see, every typo and every sentence (or even a word in a sentence) that makes no sense or which ruins the "movie" unfolding in a reader's mind is a hiccup, or worse, that flaw immediately jerks the reader out of that story world.

Yet, there are more subtle distractions that a writer leaves on the page that diminish the reader’s enjoyment. Author and writing teacher Gary Provost listed a few of the most common spell-breakers in his book MAKE YOUR WORDS WORK. These are:

1. see, dear reader, here I am thumbing through my thesaurus

 [using a word that's wrong for the text or that's not in the vocabulary of the Point Of View narrator]

2. see, here, dear reader, I am trying to impress you

[being wordy (purple prose or taking poetic license), using "big words," adding in too much industry or political jargon, and overusing "brand name" items]

3. see, here, dear reader, I am trying to fool you

[overuse of punctuation or typographic trickery that breaks the readers concentration--like colons and semicolons, bolding, a change of font, phonetic spellings, etc.]

4. see, here, dear reader, I am telling and repeating this so you get the point

[saying the same thing over and over out of fear the reader will miss the point— in reality, the reader got the idea from the get-go]

If you can’t spot these common problems,
then it may take a beta reader, a critique group, or a critique partner to point them out to you. That’s because as a writer you’re too close to the words. It's the old can't-see-the forest-for-the-trees syndrome.

So, do one revision pass for each of the four.
Your reader will appreciate it tremendously.

*** This blog is updated the 1st of each month. The next topic is: November 2015 — Punctuation Pitfalls & Grammar Glitches

 Learn the key elements that make a story worth a reader's time and money. In this online course, I’ll walk you through the must-haves that lay the foundation for and which builds solid, marketable short stories and novels. So, mark your calendars! Tell other writers for November 1-15, 2015 -- Hosted by and information: Pennwriters online course .

....And for you intermediate writers, mark your calendars for my CAUSE AND EFFECT SEQUENCES, an online writing course sponsored by Pennwriters. The date is February 1-29, 2015. Information is at

*** Questions and comments are welcomed for this blog and are always answered.

***If you'd like recommendations on how-to books about this subject or any writing subject, feel free to Connect With Catherine

*** Permission is granted to forward a link to this blog or mention it on any social media.

*** IN 2016, these posts will be put into one file for downloading. To be notified when this is available, Connect With Catherine

*** "Terrific Titles—an all inclusive guide to creating story titles" and other Writers Cheat Sheets are available HERE.

# # #