Tag Archives: was

Dragons of Wellsdeep- pages 24 & 25 edit

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Let’s look at my edit notes for these pages:

Page 24 is a lot of telling and prodding for more details. This really is where showing first draft material gets a little hard because I know that this is one of my weaker points. But it’s also very important, so please don’t get too bored. When I get started on the 2nd draft, you’ll start to see how this all rounds out, how it gets deeper because I know where I need to add things.

Do notice that I also point out things I like. That doesn’t mean they won’t be cut or emphasized more, but it’s a mark of something I feel I did right. Sometimes, you do need positive notes in your edit too, even to yourself so that it doesn’t get to feel like, “Oh, I’m such a failure! I can’t write. What am I thinking?” Again, that’s why I’m here showing you what the first draft looks like and illustrating how to fix it. If you’ve got it down, you’ve got a great start on people who only want to write a book but never do the work. So mark the spots you like!

Page 25 – what was this? Was there an explosion? If the ink was red, this page would be bleeding! Look at all the “was” words. There’s a lot of suggestions for improvement, plus a note to go into out-galaxy (OG) missions earlier. Yes, this is the mark of true first draft material. I really am learning the story here. In earlier pages, I had no idea that there was going to be a difference between off-world missions and out-galaxy missions, much like I didn’t know about the abilities of the dragonborn when I first started. I am learning as I go. That’s your proof.

How’s your manuscript coming? Hopefully well.

Until next time, happy writing and editing!

 

Dragons of Wellsdeep- pages 22 & 23 edit

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Let’s look at my edit notes for these pages:

Page 22 is run amok with alliterations (words starting with the same letter: i.e. Peter Piper picked a patch of pickled peppers). I mostly wanted to notice it on the page when I come back to it because I kind of like it — all those “s” words give the illusion of spinning. However, I know that “spinning on her slippered foot” is really something I do with Keteria from my Sacred Knight series. I really need to make Sundancer different. Maybe she pirouettes. Okay, I really need to get some dancing terms for her — and that’s something I’m only realizing now as I’m writing this. So, if you notice while editing that something like this stands out, it might be more than just a note on the page. Dig deeper into your reason for why it stopped you.

There’s also a lot of “was” words. I do like the connection to the Norse mythology — it emphases the fact that this is an Earth-based universe versus a non-Earth based universe (blog coming on that later). It also ties it in to The Loki Adventures.

Page 23 – still wanting more information from the characters, how they are feeling, showing versus telling items. Then nearing the end of the page I’m getting into a lot of similar sentence structure: he tore, he couldn’t, she was, he wanted, he curled, he felt, etc. That tells me there is a good opportunity to add setting to their actions, and a lot more action and interactions between the characters. This is a very loose lace where I can embroider in more juicy details. That’s why there is the big MORE! at the end.

Are you getting enough in your writing? Maybe a second glance over it wouldn’t hurt.

Happy writing!

Dragons of Wellsdeep – Pages 20 & 21 edit

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When I get to editing this for the rewrite, I need to push the characters more here and how they are reacting off of one another. Especially if you take a look at all the “was” words on page 21. This is an overload for me. That definitely tells me there’s a problem! Yes, it is all telling. Fortunately I have a lot of room to work with, so it’s just a matter of of untying the knot I’ve got here and fixing it. I look forward to it.

Yes, adding those layers and deepening the story is what makes if fun. I promise.

Happy writing!

 

Dragons of Wellsdeep – pages 14 & 15 edit

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Well, there’s not really a whole lot to say about these two pages except that my pronoun problem which I spoke about in last week’s post has gotten so much worse. I’m still not sure how to rewrite this other than to slow it down and add setting and narrative, but that will come.

Because this is a repeat problem, I really don’t have a lot to say about these two pages. I hope your own writing is coming along well.

Don’t forget: if you’re having any questions on your own work, patterns that you’re seeing and would like to solve, send me an email.

Until next time, happy writing!

 

Dragons of Wellsdeep – pages 10 & 11 edit

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The drafts on top are the original manuscript pages as it has been written. On the bottom are my edit drafts with my handwritten comments.

When the writer gets confused about what’s going on, it’s not a good sign. I did have to ask myself why I had Moonhunter waste time reaching over the seat for Balthier unless he was checking to see if he was okay or maybe to hoist him back into the seat. You’ll notice that a lot of times I do ask myself questions when I’m editing and that’s to help spur my thinking. I’m throwing out suggestions to myself. I even do this when I’m editing for others to help stimulate their ideas.

I have been told repeatedly that I have an issue with dangling participles and modifiers. Even after 40 years of writing, I don’t claim to be great with grammar. These dangling thingies have made no sense to me for years. Then, my youngest son sat down and explained it to me using one of my stories. The light bulb went on. I saw it, I got it. Now I’m beginning to see it in my writing as you can see from the bottom of page 10. That’s a good sign that I’m learning. To keep this learning going, I now have to learn how to fix it and once I can do that I’ll begin to reprogram myself when I’m writing so that it’s automatic as I’m drafting. This might be a very long way for me to go, but I’ll get there. I use to be very heavy with the trigger words of “was” and “had,” but I’ve retaught myself. There’s a lot of times when I’m writing that I’ll recognize that a sentence will need to be rewritten and my brain will work faster than my fingers so it automatically comes out cleaned up. I know I will get to this point with dangling modifiers too, after I learn and train myself to fix them.

Page 11 looks like it was run over by a big truck and it’s bleeding out everywhere. The writing was not tight. There are things missing, mostly description and series of event issues. I can hear the audience screaming, “More, more, more!” That’s not a bad thing; I just have to work harder.

I will transcribe all my chicken scratches here here for you. The passage should read:

When his eyelids opened, his vision filled with the sharp clarity of dragonvision. A red veil magnified his attackers as though they were only meters in front of him. The three men standing on the ridge wore cloaks of tanned hide. The one in the white and black fur yelled at the other two men, who were having a hard time holding onto the large blaster…

It’s still not a perfect edit, but that’s how I have it suggested to read now. It gives me a starting point. Having something to work with is important. A description of their attackers probably should come much sooner than this and I’ll rewrite to have the description used as a pace controlling device (so much more on that later!). As I’ve said before, this really is a first draft and I’m discovering the story as I’m writing — I didn’t know about the dragonvision until this moment. Surprise! So, my challenge will be in weaving all these elements in so that the reader isn’t jarred while reading the story. This is working the craft. It takes time and patience. If you aren’t willing to work it to be your best with all the knowledge of your craft that you have at that given moment, then maybe you should stop. It’s like me with learning about the dangling modifiers — I didn’t know any better before, but now I do and I will fix forward. I want to write and publish the best stories I can and I hope I’m always improving. I hope you desire the same thing.

Go back through the page and read the proposed changes. How would you incorporate changes? What would you do? Do you see something I missed. Comment below. Then we can have fun and see how the page develops into the second draft together.

Don’t forget about my Patreon page. Let other writers in your online and offline circles know about this blog so they can come get the help they need too. Let’s make better stories!

Happy writing!

Dragons of Wellsdeep – pages 8 & 9 edit

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The drafts on top are the original manuscript pages as it has been written. On the bottom are my edit drafts with my handwritten comments.

Let’s start off with the weird format issue at the top. When I prepared page 9, I realized that I was getting this issue sometimes when I pasted the page into a blank Word document. It is an issue that I need to watch for, but one created by my process for the blog, not one that’s actually in the original document. ]

That first line after the format issue really needs to be expanded. I can see my trigger word “had” in the sentence. Much like I discussed last week in my blog on “was” there are certain words that are triggers. I’ll discuss why “had” is a trigger words later this week. I wanted to get this page out there so I could use it as an example for that post.

Now, please note that I had a line of “he was reminiscing…” which I changed to “he reminisced…” See how that got rid of the “was”? I said I’d discuss some techniques for getting rid of “was” and this is one of them. Whenever you can, change that -ing verb to -ed and kill the was. There are times when you might want it to reflect a state of being and you would keep the -ing verb, but I find those very fleeting.

I like the “was” in the following sentence. This one could be cleared up easily by rewriting the sentence to “How exactly did one stay present in every moment?” It’s less wordy, but honestly I’m not sure I like it better. Being present is a state of being so the “was” might actually stay.

After that, I have so word clusters and other things to clean up along with a touch of research to do.  Page 9 also has some cleanup. I do also need to work on the intensity of this scene, but we’ll come back and use it as an example when I write my blog post on action scenes.

Go back through the page and read the proposed changes. How would you incorporate changes? What would you do? Do you see something I missed. Comment below. Then we can have fun and see how the page develops into the second draft together.

Don’t forget about my Patreon page. Let other writers in your online and offline circles know about this blog so they can come get the help they need too. Let’s make better stories!

Happy writing!

The Dreaded Word: Was

***Warning: if you really like to read books, don’t read this post. It will forever ruin you. If you want to improve your writing, then read on, but know that you will never be able to look at another published fiction book with the same eyes. You have been warned.***

I so wanted to make this my first post because this is one of my biggest pet peeves. I did refrain, however.

I’m sure I will come back to this again and again, especially once I really get into the heat of editing Dragons of Wellsdeep, but I wanted to give you a new tool to get you started on your own editing now.

My big pet peeve: the overuse of the word “was.”

Please note that I did say “overuse.” There are some people out there that insist that all instances of the word “was” in a manuscript should be eliminated. I can tell you that it is possible to write a whole book without “was.” I made this my challenge when I wrote The Three Books. There is not a single “was” within the narrative (there are a few in the dialogue because I didn’t want to change how the characters spoke) until the very last sentence. That finishing line contains the only narrative “was” in the whole book.

***Disclaimer: This is true for the 1st edition. I can’t swear it is for the second edition when I rewrote a couple scenes. I never checked, but I’m so use to writing around the “was” that I’m fairly certain there are none there.***

I am not a believer that the word should be totally eliminated. It is like any other word and needs to be used correctly.

“Was” is an indicator word. When you see “was” in your manuscript, it is a clue that your story is being told rather than shown. It generally indicates a state of being for something: It was a dark and stormy night; she was beautiful; the car was locked.

Here’s a hard and fast rule I want you to remember: Never use “was” in the first paragraph of your story.

I pick up books and flip to the beginning. If it has a prologue, I look at that the first two paragraphs for the word “was.” If I don’t see it there, I look at the first chapter for the same thing. If I find a “was” I decide if that was really the best course of action or if it could have been written better. If I find that I could have easily rewritten it, I put the book down on the shelf; the author doesn’t know his/her craft. If I deem it as totally necessary (and that is a rare instance), I begin to read. If I quickly start encountering more of the dreaded “was” word, I probably will put the book down unless it has a good hook.

Why do I tell you flat out to avoid was, especially when it is so prevalent in literature through the ages and in today’s genre writing? Because it’s generally unnecessary. A bit of clever rewriting will fix the situation. Yes, you are trying to show the hero at home, so shouldn’t that be your state of being for your character at that time? No! You’re trying to hook your reader into your story. Giving them a state of being with a “was” doesn’t show the character in action to make change. You need the flux of the action.

Let’s look at an example:

It was a dark and stormy night. The train was late and the rain about to set in. Frank glanced at his watch. It was only 8:00. He still had time. 

Okay, let’s fix this overabundance of “was.”

From the station platform, Frank looked at the clouds darkening the sky overhead and hoped it wouldn’t rain. He glanced at his watch. He still had time if the weather didn’t delay his train any longer. 

This still isn’t a perfect beginning, but it does clean up the instances of “was.” 

Here’s another:

Where was the book? Kim knew it had to be there somewhere. She’s put it at the bottom of her dresser drawer, right beneath her blue jeans, but it wasn’t there. She frantically jerked ever drawer out and overturned it, throwing them aside in her haste to search. Everything else was there: her diary, her jar of change, and a stray barrette. 

This is actually a modified sample from a real book. I’ve changed things up, but it’s still a good sampling. Let’s fix this.

Kim jerked the drawer from the dresser and dumped the contents onto the floor. She kicked at the clothes that fell out, hoping with each heartbeat that her foot would contact the solid weight of the book she had to find. Disappointed, she pulled out a second draw and overturned it. This time, she did feel something heavy drop. Tossing the emptied drawer onto the bed, she dropped to her knees and frantically searched. Her jar of loose change clattered as it rolled a ways across the carpet. She threw aside a stray barrette as she reached for the larger item hidden in the middle of her pile of blue jeans. Her fingers found the binding of a book’s spine. Momentary relief faded to dread panic as she realized she’d found her diary. 

Same information, but do you see how the action intensified? That’s because the story is more immediate by the action being shown rather than dulled as a state of being. 

Now, I want you to go out and start searching for “was” in your own work and others and I challenge you to make it better. It doesn’t take long to learn how to make it better. Now, when I really get into editing Dragons of Wellsdeep, I’ll have more tricks for you on how to fix “was”, but here you’ve had a sampling. If you accept the challenge and start being a “was” seeker, you’ll probably learn most of them on your own. Take your new tools with you and go write better.

Happy writing.