Thursday, October 1, 2009
The Spit Shine
Revisions, edits--call them what you will--they are nothing more than putting the spit shine on your final manuscript. There are a lot of things to watch for during your final spit shine. You might as well start with the easy stuff, and one of the first things to check for is passive voice. I'll admit that I just hate it when members of critique groups get completely anal about the word "was." This is probably my biggest pet peeve. Okay, so it's passive. But it is also part of the English language and sometimes you have to use it. However, in all honesty, sometimes you don't.
In our first draft(s) we often are focused on just getting the story down and so we throw in a lot of passive voice as we rush to the finish. Let's look at a couple of examples of how you can turn the passive voice into an active one. And, in case you're wondering why we do this, it's because active voice puts the reader more firmly in the story and keeps him there.
Here are some examples that aren't the best in the world, but you get the idea.
Bill and Mike were lounging in their chairs by the river's edge.
Bill and Mike lounged in their chairs by the river's edge.
The horse was skittish, not wanting to follow the trail.
The skittish horse did not want to follow the trail. or The skittish horse refused to follow the trail.
Harris Milton was waiting next to his plane, anxious to leave for his next job.
Harris Milton waited next to his plane, anxious to leave for his next job.
Okay, so go search out "was" in your document and get creative using active voice. I'll post a few more revision/editing suggestions on upcoming blogs.