Revision Hell by Janice Seagraves

 Revision Hell

by Janice Seagraves

1) Do a read through. Read your manuscript like a reader. Either print it out, load it into your ereader or change the font and read it on your computer. Note: changing the font will make your manuscript look different and you can see it with fresh eyes.

2) Keep a note pad by you as you read. Take notes, but keep it simple: Ch. 1 needs a better opening hook. Ch. 2 starts out too slow.

3) After you do your read through, go through it again, but this time write each scene down.

I won’t kid you, this is the hardest part of revision, but it is the most rewarding. Write it simply, Ch. 1: scene 3: the scene where the hero and heroine meet is too slow.  Ch. 2: scene 1: the wake up scene is too cliché.

4) As you write each scene add a number from 1 to 10 for its importance to your story. Note: Don’t revise until you write all the scenes down.

5) After you have all the scenes down, you will be able to look each over each scene in your story to see which ones you want to delete. This step helps you see the bigger picture, so to speak.

6) But don’t delete yet!

7) Open a new file on your computer and name it “deleted scenes” with the title of your ms. In this file you’ll paste in the scenes you are taking out. It makes taking out those scenes nearly painless, and when you reread your ms you can see if your ms flows better without them. If it doesn’t then you can always put it back in.

8) After you have taken out the scenes that slowed your prose, reread your entire manuscript like a reader. If it flows, you’re done.

9) Send it to a beta reader, or if you’re feeling really confident sent it to a publisher.

When to use then and than

I’ve been suffering with a cold, which is the third for this winter. And yes I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.

However, I’m feeling a little bit better than I was and I thought I do a mini lesson.

If I’ve done this one before, please forgive me.

When to use then and than

By Janice Seagraves

Then and Than may look a lot alike but they are used for two completely different functions.

Use then when you need to show when something happened.

Example: Karen went out to the car to get her purse and then came back inside.

I didn’t use a comma here because Karen did both things.

However, you can also use then by itself since and is implied.

Example: Karen went out the car to get her purse, then came back inside.

Why not use and by itself?

Because and is used when something happens at the same time. Karen can’t go out the car and go back inside at the same time, so and can’t be used here.

On shorter sentences you wouldn’t necessarily need the comma, but here I used it in place of the missing and. However on longer sentences you can use and then.

And then there was than.

Use than when you’re comparing things.

Example: I like this banana better than that apple.

Example: I like driving the Cadillac more than I did the Toyota.

Example: I like skiing better than hiking through the snow.

From this example you might think you’d use then more than than, then you’d be right.


Common Misused Words

Common Misused Words
by Janice Seagraves

We’ve all been guilty of this, and it does happen to the best of us. And poor old spell checker can only catch misspelled words, not wrong word choices. So here are some common wrong word usages to be aware of.

Than instead of then

Think instead of thing

Thing instead of think (I do this one a lot)

He instead of her (something I noticed in a free read)

Can instead of can’t (I do this one if I’m in a hurry)

Mail instead of male (I saw this one in a post just today)

Her instead of his

His instead of this (from a free read)

Pound instead of pond (my editor caught me on this one)

Noise instead of nose (I did this one once, but caught it during editing)

Dose instead of does (I don’t mean the plural of doe, but the singular to do)

There’s more of course. These are just off the top of my head.
Does anyone want to add to the list?

Mini Lesson: Possessions

Possessions can be tricky

By Janice Seagraves

From The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need: Before using an apostrophe, make sure that a phrase actually denotes possession and is not simple a plural. For instance, in the phrase the babies’ rattles, the babies in their cribs, the babies are not possessing anything so an apostrophe is not needed.

If a regular noun doesn’t end in –s, its possessive ends in –‘s. Say what? Take a look at this sentence.

->The cars engine was running.

The word car needs an apostrophe to indicate the possession, but where?

Use this mental trick to show where to place an apostrophe: Take the word that needs to apostrophe (cars) and the word that it’s talking about (engine) and mentally turn the two words around so that the word you’re wondering about is the object of the preposition such as of.

When you change cars engine around, you come up with engine of the car. Now look at the word car. Car is the singular and doesn’t end in –s. so the original should be punctuated—‘s. You should have:

->The car’s engine was still running.

Other examples:

Shannon’s book.

The lion’s main.

A book’s pages.

When you have plural nouns that end in –s (and most do) add an aprotrophe after the final –s.

Look at this sentence:

->The girls jackets were left in the coatroom.

Now just apply the trick. Take the phrase girls jackets and turned it around so that you have jackets of (belonging to) the girls.

When you turn the phrase around this time the word girls end in –s. this lets you know that you should add an apostrophe after the –s in girls, so the sentence ends this way:

->The girls’ jackets were left in the coatroom.

Other examples:

->Five musicians’ instruments

->Twenty-four years’ work

->Ten trees’ braches

Possessives in plural form don’t always end in –s. Let’s look at some of these. These plurals are children, women, men and deer. Add –‘s to these to make it a possessive.

->the children’s coats

->the men’s scores

->the Oxen’s yokes

Then there are the names that end with an –s. With these you add –’s to make it a possessive. Unless the pronunciation of them would lead to problems as in the case of Moses, Jones and Achilles.

Or in the case of my last name, Seagraves. Too many s’s.

So here you would add a ‘ after the s.

->Janice Seagraves’ book climbed to the top of the New York best sellers list.

Any questions?

Mini lesson: Contractions

Mini lesson:


by Janice Seagraves

Are you having problems with It’s, Its or Your, You’re well you not alone. A lot of people have problems with contractions.

Here’s a way to tell if you’re writing a word that is or isn’t a contraction, say it out loud. The one that I have the most problems with is your or you’re–So I say it out loud.

Example: Your going to the movies.

Say it out loud: You are going to the movies.

You are fits so you need you’re for this sentence.

Correct: You’re going to the movies.

If you can put you are in the sentence then you need you’re. If not then you need your, which is a possessive form.

Example: Here’s you’re coat.

Say it out loud: Here’s you are coat.

You are doesn’t fit.

However, in this sentence you need a possessive form, so you need your in this sentence.

Correct: Here’s your coat.

Another one I have problems with is It’s or Its.

Example: Its raining again.

Again say it out loud: It is raining again.

It is fits so I need a contraction in this sentence.

Correct: it’s raining again.

Its is a possessive of it, so if you talking about a thing belonging to another thing then you need a possessive.

The car has its own cover.

Say it out loud: The car has it is own cover.

It is doesn’t fit and you need a possessive here, so you need its.

Correct: The car has its own cover.