If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

October Interviews

10/07 M.E. Browning, Shadow Ridge

10/14 Alexia Gordon

10/21 Adam Meyer

10/28 Barbara Ross, Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door


October Guest Bloggers


10/03 Kathleen Kalb

10/17 S. Lee Manning

10/31 Sharon Dean


WWK Weekend Bloggers


10/10 Jennifer J. Chow

10/24 Kait Carson













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For The Love Of Lobster Tales by Shari Randall is now available to download free for a limited time. Go to Black Cat Mysteries at: https://bcmystery.com/ to get your free copy! Thanks for the freebie, Shari.


Keenan Powell recently signed with agent Amy Collins of Talcott Notch. Congratulations, Keenan!


KM Rockwood's "Secrets To The Grave" will appear in the new SinC Chesapeake Chapter's new anthology Invitation To Murder, which will be released by Wildside Press on 10/6.


Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!


Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!


Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.


KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.


Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

LOVING REVISIONS

by James M Jackson

I have entered the final self-revision phase of my fifth Seamus McCree novel. It’s the last step before I send it to my editor. Over the years I have honed my revision process, making it much more efficient.

I’m a pantser (or as some prefer, “organic writer”), so I don’t create an outline before I start writing; I begin with only a basic premise. Ninety thousand words later, I’ve found my story. I’ve tried outlining, but it’s a waste of time for me. As I write the first draft, I discover new things about my characters and their stories. Soon the outline is as useful as a losing lottery ticket.

In my early novels, I’d take the first draft and rewrite from scene one to the end, and then repeat the process. After some (large) number of drafts, I completed the project. That was neither an efficient nor effective approach.

One of my favorite lines about writing comes from Justice Louis D. Brandeis: “There is no great writing, only great rewriting.” I’ve distilled my process to start with the largest issues and work my way down to the tiny nits that can make the difference between a frustrating read and an enjoyable one.

I share my process in the online course I’ve taught for chapters of Romance Writers of American and Sisters in Crime. (I’m offering it again this October. The details about the month-long course can be found at https://jamesmjackson.com/.) The final step of my revision process, and the one I am performing right now with the novel, is fixing the nits—putting the final spit shine on the writing.

With each new manuscript, I fall in love with some word or phrase that I overuse and then need to discover and root out. But I also have bad habits that I can only kill with conscious effort. I have developed my personal list, which I add to when I find a new problem.

Some words are redundant. For example, I don’t need to say, “She shrugged her shoulders or she nodded her head.” Have you ever seen anyone shrug a knee or nod a foot? Me neither. Shrugging or nodding is sufficient (and should not be done too often).

Other problematic words are flabby placeholders for what could be a stronger word or indicate a sentence I should revise. Going to, planning to, and trying to are three phrases I check to determine if a more determinant sentence would be stronger.

You see, I like flexibility (don’t make me commit before I’m ready) and carry that trait into my writing. Finding multiple uses of “a bit” or “about” are leading indicators I’ve fallen into this flexibility trap. I might write the sentence, “He walked about a mile to the liquor store.” Readers know the character didn’t get out his ruler to make sure he walked 5,280 feet and 0 inches. In any given novel, I’ll include about about a thousand times before I apply the scalpel.

Do you have any pet peeves about authors’ writing styles that you wish they would change?



7 comments:

Margaret S. Hamilton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Margaret S. Hamilton said...

you mean three page chapter guy reads filled with dialogue about guns, good whisky, and fast cars?

Or two page infodumps lifted from a guidebook listing the architectural details of a historic building, roof to cellar?

Grace Topping said...

I'm a beta reader for a few writers, and I've learned a lot about my own writing from seeing some of their mistakes. It's always easier to spot things in other people's writing than in your own. The one thing I've noticed, and I'm guilty of, is repetitive physical reactions like shoulder shrugging, eyes widening, heart pounding, etc.

Warren Bull said...

It seems like I sort maybe kind of more or less apparently take out weasel words.

Jim Jackson said...

Margaret -- those both sound terrible!

Grace -- We writers do fall into reaction ruts. I'm thinking of creating a wheel I can spin with 36 different emotional descriptors.

Warren -- LOL a five-word sentence bloated into sixteen with weasel words.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Grace, I enjoyed a workshop with a group of romance writers in July. They use an emotion thesaurus to identify a variety of physical emotional reactions. Try a search using that term and if I can find my notes, I'll send you the name of the one they recommended.

Grace Topping said...

Thanks, Margaret -- Because of what I've noted, I purchased a book entitled, "Emotional Thesaurus." It's been widely reviewed, so that may be what everyone is referring to.