Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chapter Five Today

Chapter Five is here for you, if you are following Hafan Deg.

If I can keep up my tweaking, I'll be able to blog three chapters a week. Tweaking sounds like minimal work, just dotting a few 'i's, etc., but it's real work, re-reading for errors in rhythm, dealing with seemingly endless typos, sentence structure, punctuation. On top of that, I am adding and cutting material as I go, so it's like a full re-write, although the 'good bones' are untouched. With each chapter for the blog, I am pruning away dead wood, I hope.

Which brings me to an interesting article I read on keeping the writing as clean as possible (and I am not referring to smut avoidance). The writer pointed out that the over-use of a past participle, "had been", "had said" "had gone", or other double verbs, muddied the writing, clogged it up, if you will. Once you've established that this action happened somewhat earlier, with ONE example indicating that at the beginning of the paragraph, or the page, it's unnecessary to use it again, and you can comfortably change to simple past verbs - 'was', 'said', 'went', and so on. Readers quickly see that the section is set in a more distant past, and there's no need to keep reminding them.

Karen, in Hafan Deg, is often examining her past, so I went back and looked hard. Sure enough, with those verb adjustments, my page is cleaner. It's taking a lot of time to do, of course, because the little devils try to slip by me. (One did, just then, but I caught it - Gotcha!) With habit, I think I will naturally write with the cleaner verb.

I have no intention of getting into grammar, or syntax, in this blog. But when tips like this come along, I'll share then with you.

Nathan Bransford, literary agent, has a contest, of sorts, which you'll need to act on quickly, as it closes tomorrow, Thursday, 4 pm Pacific time. All you do is paste the first paragraph of your book as a comment on his blog. The entries are an interesting read. Prizes are vague, but involve professional critiquing of your work, fifteen minute phone conversation, things like that. It only took me five minutes this morning to put mine on there. Go check it out.

2 comments:

Brian said...

Hello Fran - I nominated you. Please read my latest post and you will see what for. I think you will like it.

Fran said...

Thanks for that! Now if I could just work out what I am nominated for - Pulitzer? Booker?