Don’t worry, this isn’t a refresher course on parts of speech you learned in grammar school. Although you might want to worry about the fact I’m going to ramble about finishing a book.
You see, just before I do my final edit, I reread Elements of Style by Strunk and White. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s a slim volume that ingeniously condenses years of English and writing courses into a concise guide. It’s not a substitute for education, mind you, but it’s effective at jogging my memory how to render a complex language into something cohesive.
It’s supposed to help keep me from rambling….
There’s never a point in writing where the work ends. Drafting is hard work. People may think writers sit down and just toss ideas onto screen or paper, but it’s not that easy. Believe me, that blank screen or page often seems to defy us, daring us to mar its pristine appearance with inadequate words.
Rewriting is hard work. I prefer it to drafting, but now those inadequate words have to be whipped into shape. Whole passages can be ripped out and replaced with something … better … but there’s always room for improvement.
Getting down to the final edit is the detail work you do after the main mess has been cleaned up. This is usually when I discover all the words accidentally dropped from sentences in my flurry to finish the last rewrite. I’ve noticed many of those words tend to be articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.
But there is one doozy I’m going to confess….
Something as simple as describing a certain character when he first appears in the book consistently eluded me. On my final rewrite before sending my manuscript to beta readers, I made a note in the passage to describe him. I rushed ahead to fix something more pertinent … and completely forgot to return to that character.
More than one beta reader had a huh? response to that cryptic note….
Okay, leaving out a word here and there is one thing, but leaving out whole sentences is just inexcusable. Don’t worry, that character got his description, but maybe you should worry about any writer that can ramble that far….