It’s been a busy two weeks, what with my being groomed and having my teeth cleaned and playing with all my buddies while James plays with his novel. That’s right, James is still editing. He tells me he will be for at least the next couple of weeks.
He told me editing is like my being groomed. First I get a wash (and treats) and then a blow dry (and treats) and a light brushing (many more treats) and then they start cutting. They especially do a close crop around my pads, ears and privates (special treats for those areas). Now, so you know, it isn’t only my hair they cut. They cut my nails, like a manicure/pedicure that humans get. (I’ll let you in on a little secret. No man is cured when this happens, if you get my drift.)
Because of this, James wanted me to fill you in on some of the editing he’s been doing. Since my last blog was “Take Two,” this one is “Take Three.” I know James gave you four topics to consider when it was take two, being double the “take.” However, this time there’ll only be three like in the title. Without further ado (another one of those words that are so fun to use):
There are also words you simply don’t need. Like the words “also” and “simply” in the previous sentence. James painfully (It’s true – go on, leave that in.) discovered that he uses words like simply far too often when either another word, rephrasing the sentence, or dropping the word would make the reader’s enjoyment that much greater. “There are words you don’t need,” says it all.
There are other words that may crop up like weeds, such as “only.” If you think about it, the words simply and only have something in common. They are adverbs. (Yes, I know, “only” is an adjective when it comes before a noun.) A review of the adverbs used may show that there are far too many of them, and they aren’t always necessary. James suggests this is something to think about when editing. Of course, a writer’s voice comes first.
James doesn’t like to admit it (it’s true, you don’t!), but when he’s writing he likes to tell what’s going on in a scene. When he goes back to edit and to show (see last post for “Show Don’t Tell”) what is happening in the scene, sometimes he finds that dialogue might be more helpful in not only showing but in the development of the characters. He can show their body movements and describe them at the same time. For example, a character can slouch against a wall while running her hands through her long, strawberry blond hair as she tells her boyfriend…. (What? You’re not going to write that? Sometimes, I swear.) Instead of a straight description, James gets to show you how characters look and act. (Kind of cool if you ask me. Oh boy! A treat.) It also moves the story along at a nice pace. (Score, another treat.)
Another type of dialogue that James likes to use are dialogue/thought bubbles seen above cartoon characters. A character can be shown to think something when they know it might be best not to say it. It helps show what the character is feeling and not necessarily what they are doing or actually saying. The actions the characters take when thinking also help bring the character to life. Remember to give your characters a voice while showing the reader who they are.
Here’s a real doozy. James has told me he runs afoul of this far too often. Of course, I had no idea what he was talking about, so I asked him while scratching my neck, “What the f@#k is a declarative sentence?” (He told me not to use such language. Well, it’s not like I know.) His answer, while rolling his eyes, “Look it up in the dictionary.” I replied, licking my b&%lls because he can’t, “Wow, this is fun!”
To stop our bickering, James told me that my question is an interrogative sentence since it (duh) asked a question. His reply is an imperative sentence since it gave a command, and my reply is an exclamatory sentence since I was showing excitement. I still didn’t know what a declarative sentence is.
(Okay, James told me. Here goes.) Basically, a declarative sentence is a statement where the subject normally precedes the verb and ends in a period. Simple, right? Well, there are simple, compound, complex and compound-complex declarative sentence structures. The more clauses, whether independent or dependent, determines how simple or complex the declarative sentence is. (This is more info than I needed.)
James believes readers prefer simple declarative sentences. That’s not how he writes when putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard. So in editing, James edits the more complex sentences that have multiple independent clauses into several, easy to read, sentences.
An example: James drove to the store, and then he took me to the vet, and while there he bought me a chew toy.
Instead of three run on independent clauses, the sentence could have been written as follows: James drove to the store. Afterwards he took me to the vet. While we were there, he bought me a chew toy. (I love James – yes, a treat!)
While this example isn’t too stimulating, the purpose is simply to show you how a compound sentence may be edited to become more enjoyable.
I hope James will work with me on a post in two weeks. He’s been so busy editing that I wasn’t sure we were going to get this one out. I’m so glad we did. Until my next post, do you have any editing tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about them in the comment section below.
I always enjoy hearing from you, so please leave a comment on this blog post about this or anything at all.
Until next time,
Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm (you can call me Ollie)