Sometimes you fell short of what you thought you could do, but hey, NEWSFLASH!!!
We all do. Big deal!
It's not fallin' off the horse that messes us up.... it's stayin' off that ends our equestrian careers. Same is true of writing. Write, write, write, even when you don't think you have anything to say because you might surprise yourself and at least you're staying in the habit!!! That's huge! Anything you can do repeatedly for a month becomes a habit... And other than praying, writing is the best habit I have!
So when I'm revising, I have one main thought: It's All About the Timing.
Is it the right time for humor? A badly placed joke or jibe annoys the reader because they don't want the hero to say that right then... they want empathy, maybe sympathy, maybe a good, old-fashioned rescue!!! Yee haw! So when you thread humor into a story, make sure you keep the humor... and the timing... in mind. Mary Connealy, Deb Clopton and Nora Roberts are three authors whose humor is seamlessly infused into the story. Copy them. (Don't tell them I said so!)
Should you add pathos? Well, if you're asking, the answer is "no" because you needed to lay the groundwork for that a chapter or two ago! Otherwise it sounds scripted. (I get that it is scripted, darlings, work with me here! We just don't want it to sound that way.) But maybe the pathos works here... If you take the time to go back and lay the groundwork in the preceding chapters.
Repeat after me:
It should never be too much work to create the best page possible.
(Ruthy pauses to listen, making sure everyone repeats. Satisfied, Ruthy moves on.)
I don't do excerpts anymore because in a poll a lot o' youse found them annoying, BUT... I'm showing you how I examine a freshly written scene to do the initial revisions. This is from an upcoming historical series for our upcoming novella collections, "The Pastor Takes a Wife".
Hattie pointed from this to that and the other thing, spouting words like muslin, cotton, netting, hooks, eyes and lace.
Macy got the lace part, the rest was a jumble until she saw the pile of various goods on the counter. “It takes all this to make a dress?” Too late, she realized her surprised tone and foolish words showed her ineptitude. She flinched, hoping the women didn’t catch it, and to her surprise, they didn’t seem to.
Here's the revised version:
Hattie pointed this way and that, spouting words like muslin, cotton, netting, hooks, eyes and lace.
Macy understood the lace reference. The rest was a jumble until she saw the stacked goods on the counter. "It takes all this to make a dress?" Too late, she realized she'd revealed her ineptitude. She flinched, hoping the women didn't catch her mistake, and to her relief, they didn't seem to.
I love stories of "fallen women" who are redeemed by the grace of God and the milk of human kindness. Historically (and even now in so much of the world) women are second-class citizens and treated casually by men. I love women who rise from the ashes, take the bull by the horns and get on with life. Macy Evers is one of the "Sewing Sisters" in the "Sewing Sisters Society" and Hattie McGillicuddy is one of those amazing people who reach out to help others move forward, one woman at a time. Nothin' like sacrificial love, right?
Here's another raw section:
“Now, I’m going to tote these goods home with the two of you helping,” Hattie said as Ginny expertly cut the lengths of fabric in the proper size. “And Ginny, I’ll need three shirt lengths in white, three in blue, three in dark blue and a dozen quarter-inch white buttons.”
“Threads, Hattie, or are you set on those?”
“My land, I have more thread than any three seamstresses could possible need in a lifetime, but I don’t have the right shade of pink for Miss Chickie’s gown, so perhaps a spool of light pink would do well.”
And here's the first pass at tightening this!
"The three of us will tote these things back to the shop," Hattie directed as Ginny cut fabrics to the proper size. "And Ginny, I'll need three shirt lengths in white, medium blue, and that nice serge you've got up top there, and two-dozen quarter-inch white buttons."
"Threads, Hattie, or are you set on those?"
"I have more thread than any three seamstresses could need in a lifetime, but I am without the right shade of pink for Miss Chickie's gown, so perhaps a spool of that would do as well."
You can see the method. Examine the sentences, cut extraneous words, remove redundancies, and move on. Now these are out of context, you're not seeing the whole picture, but even a glimpse like this gives you the idea of how to hunt out each sentence... and that's the first pass through.
When I get to 100 pages of a manuscript, I do my first hard-copy read-through. I print it out, read it, and this serves two-fold: It reacquaints me with eye color, hair color, colloquialisms, habits, threads I may have dropped.... and it gives me a much closer look at how the words flow across the written page. I slice and dice here too, making notes on each page to tell myself what needs to be altered, where I need foreshadowing, and where I need to plant seeds for upcoming events. Readers should never discover you have a dog in chapter 14....
Because if you have a dog and don't mention it for fourteen chapters, you've just insulted every single dog lover on the planet!
I love revisions and editing and I don't say that lightly. I can work on writing a couple of projects at the same time (as long as they are light years apart in style) but when I'm revising, I'm on THAT BOOK ONLY until the read-through is done. Polishing and primping works better if I'm totally focused.
And don't ask me why the spacing on this got totally jumbled. It happened after I changed the font on the excerpts, and won't change back.
OH..... BLOGGER!!!!!!! You silly blog, you!
Come on inside and I'll answer questions or just chat. And if you want to post a short excerpt and see what we'd say about it, be brave and do it! Let's play school!!! Nothing like school in the spring, right?
I've brought Easter chocolate for everyone and fresh coffee to boot! Also, I'm tossing names into the dog dish (blast those cats, anyway!!!!) for five copies of my newest Kirkwood Lake book "Healing the Lawman's Heart", scheduled for release on May 19th! I could literally just sit here and look at this cover, it's so stinkin' sweet... and the romance in this book, the two wounded hearts God brings together? Let no one even think of putting them asunder, dagnabbit, because they're the best thing that's happened to one another in years! I L-O-V-E this story, and that's all I've got to say about that!
An Officer and a Lady
Single mom Julia Harrison is the last person Tanner Reddington should get involved with. He's promised to stay away from all things baby. But the state trooper's protective instincts outweigh his misgivings when he meets the lovely midwife. Julia is opening a women's clinic in Kirkwood Lake, while raising two small boys on her own. Plagued by memories of the family he lost, Tanner fights the pull he feels toward Julia and her kids. But when an orphaned newborn brings Tanner and Julia together, they begin to consider their future…as husband and wife.
Multi-published, best-selling author of nearly thirty books, Ruthy lives in a big, old farmhouse in Western New York, she loves God, her family, her country, dogs, coffee and chocolate. With a few decades of nametag and hairnet jobs behind her, she's done spot-on research for just about everything... and got paid to do it! Visit her at her website http://ruthloganherne.com or send her a friend request on facebook where she loves to chat, joke and pray with friends, family and her beloved readers!