Over the next month, Takeshita Demons is being featured in editing and writing workshops held by Seven Stories in the UK, as part of promotions for the 2011 Diverse Voices childrens book award (which you should enter if you are an as-yet unpublished childrens author)(It’s INTERNATIONAL and FREE TO ENTER and you can ENTER BY EMAIL!)(Go! Go! Go!)
As part of these workshops I was asked to think about what changes occured as a result of the editing process for Takeshita Demons:
The big ones, of course, were my editor’s request for another chapter (can you guess which one?), and the request by my First Draft Reading Team (=my parents and husband) for a more comprehensive and satisfying conclusion to the plot (I have a horrible tendency to rush my first draft finales).
But I’m also surprised by what a HUGE difference the little changes make. I’ve discovered my three worst writing habits, and am curbing them thanks to extensive use of the DELETE key.
These habits are:
1) TERRIBLE HABIT #1
AT ALL. It is not useful at all to add this phrase to every sentence. Nothing at all is gained. It just takes up extra space that could be used to do something more interesting. There is no reason at all to include it.
2) TERRIBLE HABIT #2
A BIT. I get a bit worried when this phrase crops up. It’s a bit of a waste to include it. I used it when I was trying to build a bit of tension, but it doesn’t add anything. It’s a bit superfluous.
3) TERRIBLE HABIT #3
PRETTY. It’s pretty annoying to see my first drafts are covered in this word. I use it pretty much every time I want to sound cool, but it’s pretty easy to see that it doesn’t do much to earn its place in the sentence. Now I’m pretty hardcore about deleting it every time it crops up.
TAKE A BREAK FROM TERRIBLE HABITS
Argh. It hurts me just to read those sentences now. But it’s been extremely useful to have someone wave the red flag over these TERRIBLE HABITS. If I get annoyed with them, imagine the effect on my readers!
OTHER EDITING THOUGHTS
It is very useful to have someone with skills, experience, knowledge and passion look through your work and make suggestions.
My Takeshita Demons editor also picked up on some grammatical/spelling errors I’ve been repeating for years and (hopefully) I repeat them no longer. (Keep in mind that I also work as an editor, so having simple errors highlighted was both embarassing and useful.)
Also, I was surprised by how much discussion went into small things (the flavour of pizza that the Takeshitas might have in their freezer), but was also very happy to realise that most of the book was working for most people. What a relief!
Takeshita Demons: The Filth Licker proofs will be out in a few months (request a copy from Frances Lincoln Childrens Publishing) and I’m almost finished the first draft of Takeshita Demons: Monster Matsuri, so editing time is rolling around for me again. This time, I’ll be armed with more weapons than ever before!
Anyone have any TERRIBLE writing habits they’d like to share?