Thursday, December 7, 2017

Revision is a Process - How to Take the Frustration Our of Self-Editing by Catherine E. McLean - Book Tour and Giveaway

About the Book

A first draft holds the possibility of what will be a great story. Revision turns that rough diamond into a spectacular gem worth a reader's money and time.

Writers are individuals but to be a producing writer means creating a system to revise and polish a work so the reader thoroughly enjoys the story. REVISION IS A PROCESS is a guidebook for writers and authors that shows how a simple 12-step process can be tailored to eliminate the most common and chronic maladies of writing genre fiction. This valuable guidebook contains secrets, tips, practical advice, how-to's, and why-to's for taking the frustration out of self-editing.


From Section 9 - Said is not Dead

One of the most controversial aspects of writing dialogue is the use of said as a speech tag. Some think using said is pedestrian and boring, others pepper every line of dialogue with said for fear the reader won't know who is speaking. The fact is that said is nearly invisible to a reader. However, overuse is a common problem, so delete as many as possible without jeopardizing clarity or use beats. (Revisit the Oubliette example on the previous page. Said was not used. Beats were.)

In your review to minimize using said, watch for LY or ING ending speech tags like: "Drop dead," she said dramatically. That tells (and does so poorly). Instead show with a beat: "Drop dead." The anger in her voice was unmistakable. You should avoid such tags as "Of course," he said knowingly (which has an ING and an LY). You may catch the LY and ING tags in the passivity check, which is discussed in Section 11. However, don't mistake the ING words when they're necessary, such as "Oh, that dialogue speech tag has a participle added to it," Marsha said, squinting at the underlined word on the page. 

Yes, that's right, squinting is part of a participle phrase, which can be useful in speech tags.


by Catherine E. McLean *
(alternate email:

886 words - with links and links to drawings - DRAWINGS are below

What advice would you give a new writer just starting out? 

My advice would be summed up by one word—Ergonomics.
I would shout ERGONOMICS into every new writer's ears if that would help. Why? Because if you are to become a producing writer, one who can turn out a 100,000 word novel every year (or two 50,000 word novels a year), or one short story every month, that means you'll be in front of a computer and typing.

Okay, so someone will dictate into a computer and someone else will write in longhand. It doesn't matter how it's done, at some point they'll be editing or self-editing on a computer. They will be sitting for long hours and typing which means they run the risk of repetitive tissue, muscle, and tendon damage.

I have been typing since I was seventeen and learned on a clunky, manual typewriter. I have earned my living as a secretary and spent forty hours a week, plus countless hours of overtime, pounding the keys of not only that manual but IBM Selectrics, Xerox Memorywriters, Wang Word Processors, and computers. Even now, as a writer, I spend anywhere from five to twelve hours a day at the keyboard. And yet, I have no RSI — Repetitive Stress Injuries because I had a typing teacher who instilled in me the reasoning behind sitting properly, the correct angles for my hands, head, and feet so I could earn a living.

Repetitive stress injuries occur when too much stress is placed on a joint. The severity of the stress occurs from heavy (i.e., hours) of computer, texting, and word processing. Such stress happens to the joints because tendons and muscles around the joint are constantly and repeatedly being flexed to the point of irritation. When the body does not have sufficient time to recover and make repairs, that leads to irritation. The body reacts by increasing the amount of fluid in that area to reduce the stress placed on the tendon or muscle. And therein lies discomfort that leads to the most common damage of— Carpal Tunnel Syndrome which is the swelling inside a narrow "tunnel" formed by bone and ligament in the wrist. That tunnel surrounds nerves which convey's sensory and motor impulses to and from the hand, leading to pain, tingling, and numbness.

But there are other RSIs— 

1. Cervical radiculopathy where there is disk compression in the neck, often caused by the angle (poor posture) from looking at a screen or monitor for long hours. 

2. Epicondylitis: elbow soreness known as "tennis elbow." Often a result of poor posture and too steep or too shallow an angle to the keyboard.

3.Tendonitis: tearing and inflammation of tendons connecting bones to muscles. Once again poor ergonomics (posture and too steep or shallow angles of the hands and arms) contribute to such damage.

Okay, I will confess—when I got my first computer, I experienced neck aches and headaches. I researched the ergonomics for computers. As soon as I reset my workspace, the aches were gone and never returned. As added insurance to stop future repetitive damage, I buy the best ergonomic chair I can afford. My current one was on sale—otherwise it would have been too expensive for my budget. It's designed after a race-car driver's bucket seat. It holds my back and hips in alignment. Even the arm rests are adjustable downward (normally I take off a task-office chair's arm rests because they force my arms to be held up too high, which strains my shoulders and neck). 

Okay, so a chair is a must, so too is the proper height of the desk on which a computer keyboard and monitor reside. Because I always had secretarial desks with a lower wing area for the typewriter-keyboard, at home, my husband built me a simple desk of the right height for my typewriter and later my computer. When we moved into the farmhouse we now live in, and remodeled the kitchen, someone goofed up the measurements to a counter top. Rather than junk the piece, I had the contractor build me a set of bookshelves, at the correct desk height, and set the counter top over them. (The bookshelves gave me added storage.) 

As to the monitor, it sets on a storage-type box, which puts the monitor at the right height and distance from where I sit.  I also installed a board under my printer stand for my computer's mouse (wireless). The printer is heavy enough to keep the board from moving. That board extends past my elbow so my entire forearm is supported. 

And here is something else—I have, to the left of my keyboard—a touch pad mouse (wireless). Why? Because my left hand shares the load of moving and activating the cursor on the screen. Be assured, I am not ambidextrous. I merely want to take the strain from all the right-handed movements I'm forced to make because of the way the computer and computer programs area designed. The benefit of using two mice is faster commands, faster movements to menu items, and time saved when drafting and editing work.

If you intend to be a producing writer, take my advice—pay attention to the ergonomics that will save your body from repetitive injuries. Here are links to better understand ergonomics and drawings that show how you can withstand the riggers of being a producing writer:

About the Author

Catherine E. McLean's lighthearted, short stories have appeared in hard cover and online anthologies and magazines. Her books include JEWELS OF THE SKY, KARMA & MAYHEM, HEARTS AKILTER, and ADRADA TO ZOOL (a short story anthology). She lives on a farm nestled in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains of Western Pennsylvania. In the quiet of the countryside, she writes lighthearted tales of phantasy realms and stardust worlds (fantasy, futuristic, and paranormal) with romance and advenure. She is also a writing instructor and workshop speaker. Her nonfiction book for writers is REVISION IS A PROCESS - HOW TO TAKE THE FRUSTRATION OUT OF SELF-EDITING.

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