Writer In Motion: Week 2

WIM Week 2: The Ugly Duck draft

Part 5


Now it’s time to revise. This revision will take me a day or two. One day if I was only working on this story, but I’m not. I’m drafting my ghost story for NaNoWriMo and again, priorities. For the record, steps 1 and 2 took me about a half-hour, and steps 2-4 took me around 4 hours because I was in the middle of making BBQ ribs and didn’t devote myself as much as I might!

What I will look at:

  • Global—Are all the scenes I need in the story? Does each scene have all the components of a scene: Person, action, place, time, manner, cause? If not, why? Are all the visual components as bright as possible?
  • Paragraph Level—Do I need to cut some paragraphs to fit my story structurally? Are the paragraphs short and intense?
  • Sentence Level—Does each sentence have a flow? Have I used two action verbs in a sentence where one would be better? How’s my adjective use? Do I have too many prepositional phrases weighting down a perfectly good sentence? How does it read aloud? Have I retained the surrealism without compromising clarity?
  • Word Level—Are my nouns vibrant? Verbs good? What about… GASP, filter words? I’m leaving them in, and I’ll tell you why in a minute. What about filler words? Those I’ll cut. Once I’ve run my self-editing checklist and made everything as vibrant as I can, I’ll hand this off to CPS.

Why don’t I care about filter words in this round of revision? Filter words are instances where the character expressed something internal in terms of sensory words. He felt. She thought. He knew. She saw. All those are good examples of a filter word. They filter the direct thought of the character through something that puts the reader at a distance from that character. It’s a good idea to deal with these words in your prose. Yes, they are distancing. Yes, deep POV culls filter words like swatting flies at a picnic. Yes, I will deal with them. Later. Not now. Why?

Because those filter words are my own personal reminder to leave the emotions in! Note, I haven’t said a thing about working on things like conflict, suspense, tension, and emotional impact. That’s coming up after round 1 of CPs. I struggle with emotional impact. Filter words help me revise for that.

This is a combination of things: but mostly it boils down to an inability to react emotionally to reading. I can count on one hand the number of books and movies that have made me react in an emotional way, and I don’t even need to use all my fingers. I can feel emotion when I write, but when I start revising, I’ll cut almost half of the emotional impact sections where I sobbed while writing. They don’t impact me when I’m reading, even if they are excellent. Therefore, I won’t cut filters until I am almost at the last draft, or I won’t remember that those moments actually made me feel something when I wrote them. I leave those filter words in place until I’m ready to work on emotional impact.

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