Monday, July 22, 2013

Polishing Your Work In Progress

Two Mondays ago I blogged about my MG manuscript that I had been  revising for a long,  long time. I told how it had went from 9,000+ words in 2007 to the current 23,000+ words.

I'm still writing!

The manuscript is currently at 25,000+ words!

How have I added words to a story I thought was finished?

I put on my thinking cap and thought like a 10-12 year old. I asked myself what would they do in a certain situation and what would they like to happen at the end.

I've added little details to the plot that made me have to make changes to the manuscript on down the line. And the best part is that I added a new ending! There is a little twist at the end. The girls in the story discover something that they didn't know existed before. And they discovered it by mistake!

But, in addition to adding to the text, I have also used the Find and Replace option to delete overused, lazy and unneeded words such as was, were, very, felt, seem, be, simply, really, that, just, had, etc. (I read a book chapter someone posted on Facebook yesterday. It is a good story, but they used seemed numerous times throughout the chapter and three times in one paragraph. It drove me crazy. Their good story could have been much better if they had searched and deleted a lot of unnecessary words.)

I also went to a couple of small sections of my manuscript that had always bothered me. They were only a few paragraphs long, but I felt those paragraphs were not interesting and did not add to the story the way they were written. So I did what I should have done a long time ago - I changed and/or deleted part of them!

I am what they call a skinny writer - not in body, but in words. So deleting sections and words of my manuscript scared me. But I did it and I ended up with a longer and better manuscript.

When editing, I noticed I had trouble remembering when to use that and which. Below is the Which vs. That Rule.

Use that before a restrictive clause. If you need the clause to maintain a sentence's meaning, then use that. Think - "I needed that."

Use which before a nonrestrictive clause. You can take it or leave it - it's not necessary. Which is almost always preceded by a comma, parenthesis or a dash.

Be patient. Make sure your manuscript is polished before publishing.

Happy Writing!

Posted by  Janet Smart  on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.


  1. Thanks, Janet, for your insights. I need to "fatten up" my MG manuscript!

    1. Good luck on your way to "fatten up" your manuscript.

  2. Sounds like you're well on the way to a beautifully polished story! :)

  3. I love the idea of being a skinny anything ;D but...maybe not a skinny writer...I don't know, it's hard to get away from my LOVE for certain seems ;D

    1. I know what you mean, Kim. I have a habit of using just and old a lot.

  4. What you wrote is so true Janet. We have to keep cutting the fat and then adding things that keep our readers jumping and waiting for our next sentence!
    I've been at a standstill this summer. I've helped plan a family reunion for Aug 3 and our daughter and her family are due here this evening from near Boston. We'll have a hectic few days then off to the reunion. I'm sure I'll be exhausted when it's over. My plan is to start fresh in Sept. Keep up the good work! B

  5. You are so right. I've been working on my MG manuscript for about 5 years now. It started pretty low like below 10K and now? I have a 30K words manuscript and I'm still revising it.


    1. That's great, good for you! Keep up the revising.


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