Editing Your Words
How much do you love editing your words once your story is complete? Is it a bind, a hassle, or like me, a huge eye opener? In my blog last week I touched on how I manage to produce new “favourite” words with every romance I write. But I know I also over use many other common words. So much so I now keep an editing list where I take note of how many times I’ve initially used the word, then after editing that particular word, how many are left. Of course then I have to decide whether this second figure is acceptable. Will it get past the beady eyes of my editor, or will it join that other growing list of “favourite” words once I’ve submitted the story?
If you’ve never written a romance you’re probably not aware of how often some words are used. For example, “eyes” is a very common word in any romance, but probably even more so in a clean or sweet romance because we are limited to what we may use to express the characters’ emotions. We’re told the eyes are the window to the soul, and lets face it, romance writers are always going to be sneaking peaks into the characters’ souls to share their feelings. Eyes are often the way we do this. Have you ever noticed how many ways the eyes can be used in a romance?
But I digress. I wanted to first point out a large number of times one uses the word ‘eyes’ the usage is likely incorrect and needs to be changed to gaze or a synonym. Often editing notes can be found on the Internet when writers have written pieces where eyes are flying around the room, or chasing after someone. This grates with readers who then scoff at the knowledge and ability of the writer. But once we’ve edited all those pesky eyes from our story, what then?
Do you have any idea how many times/ways words revolving around ‘eyes’ can be used? Hundreds. First there is the colour of the eyes. While only a few basic colours generally pertain to the iris, these have been poetically expanded over the years. Now a description of the colour of ones eyes can be given in too many ways to even think of reproducing here. Then we can talk about the movement of the eye/lid. Eyes can meet, avoid, widen, bulge, narrow. They can look up, down, sidewards. Expression in ones eyes, so important in a sweet romance especially, can again be woven into hundreds of different phrases to share a glimpse of the characters’ feelings with the reader.
While editing Worlds Collide I’ve struggled with the number of “eyes” in the story. I’ve gone through copious notes on “improving your writing” I’ve collected over the years. I’ve searched the Internet for varied ways to use this little word. I’ve ploughed through books on body language for hints. Will the 121 remaining times the word “eye” is mentioned in this story of 85,000 words be acceptable? Or will Maggie baulk and have me add it to my growing list of “favourite words” to be used frugally? I guess only time will give me that answer.