I don’t know about you, but I can never look at anything I’ve written (unless, perhaps it’s really new) without wanting to change something. I like to think I’m making it better. LOL
Last month I released my 1998 romance novel, ONCE MORE WITH FEELING as an e-book, and this week I released my 2000 romance--originally titled TROPICAL NIGHTS--as the e-book STRANGER IN PARADISE. That had been my original title, but the editor changed it. Both books, by the way, were published by Kensington.
Besides the new (old) title, the latest one also got different character names. The heroine is now Dana, named for my young granddaughter. And, while I was at it, I went through the manuscript improving the writing. I’ve learned a lot in the last twelve years and, I hope, lessened the “cringe” factor. Maybe what I did can help other writers who are updating their work, or just want to make their current WIP a little better. Here are the eight things I looked for.
1. I searched for every “was” and “were“ and tried to change “to be” verbs into more active ones. This really pepped it up.
2. Next, I searched for “said.” Even in the 1990s I’d learned to use “said” in speech tags, not “groaned, laughed, tittered” or any other fancy word. This time I looked for ways to get rid of “he said” or “she said” altogether. Nowadays, I put a character’s dialogue in the same paragraph with some action, so the reader knows who’s speaking without the attribution.
3. In olden days I had a terrible habit of using “had,” not realizing how it took the reader out of the present moment. Of course, not every “had” is bad (forgive the rhyme) but I was able to remove a lot that were simply not necessary.
4. The word “that” came under scrutiny too. If it wasn’t necessary for clarity, out it came.
5. Words such as “seemed,“ and “felt” were changed to better ways to show how my characters thought and behaved.
6. Similarly, I looked for “saw,” “watched,” “Looked,” and “turned,” in order to give readers a more tangible vision.
7. By searching for words ending in “ly,” I managed to get rid of unnecessary adverbs. I strengthened my descriptions and, especially, dialogue.
8. Finally, I recognized my overuse of starting a sentence with “And” or “But.” Correcting those wasn’t always easy, but I soon found more interesting ways to get my ideas across.
How about you? Are you improving your backlist before sending it into Cyberspace? Do you have any other tips to share?