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ENTRY

Editing, editing, editing
October 30, 2014

Sorry, I've been away from the blog, not that I'm a prolific blogger. Anyway I was deeply into editing two novels for the last couple of months, one of mine and one for another author. Mine is Why Ghosts Appear, my tribute to noir private detective mysteries. It takes place in Japan and Mexico, centering around the disappearance of a fortuneteller's son during the Japanese obon season, which is an ancestor remembrance holiday. It also reminded me of Mexico's Day of the Dead holiday, so they become entwined during the search. Fortunately, the book was already fairly well polished so the editing didn't take too much mental effort.

The other novel was the first for the author and it required a lot of mental effort. The plot needed an overhaul to make the story stronger, and the characters needed some added dimensions. The typical first novelist stylistic mistakes were all there. Here's a brief rundown of some of them:

Overuse of exclamation points. In this novel the draft started with over 750(!) I managed to get the author to cut that down to about 450, but still too many (!).

Overuse of italics. Words that are emphasized in dialogue get italicized. But used in nearly every sentence is too much emphasizing going on.

Use of the words "sound" and "feel." Usually unnecessary, as in "She heard the sound of laughter." (Instead, "Laughter erupted in the dark room.") And "He felt the pain of the cigarette burning his skin." (Instead "The glowing tip of the cigarette seared his flesh.")

Telling rather than showing. I've mentioned this in a previous blog entry. Telling that a character is obsessed by something is weaker than showing how that obsession has taken over their soul.

Use of the word "seem." Another weak and vague word. "It seemed to him that the killer was bound to strike again." (Instead, "He knew with his entire being that the killer had already picked out her next victim.")

I'll have some more on other issues later.

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Lee Witte
Of course there are exceptions to every rule!

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