Top 5 Things I’ve Learned From Editing my First Novel

Hammer and Egg

Revising Inharmonic has been the first time I’ve gone through a serious editing process. And I mean, really dug in. I’ve been at it for almost a month now, and I’m 3/4 of the way through. It’s amazing how much there is to delete/change/redo. It’s also amazing, and humbling, to take a critical look at your writing and discover things about your writing habits you might never have noticed before.  Here are the top 5 things I’ve learned so far about my own habits.

1. I certainly like “certainly.”

Hanging out all day with a preschooler, you learn a lot about the way you speak. I laugh at bedtime when my three-year-old says, “I need Bobo, my bear, and of course, I always need my special Adipose.” It’s funny to hear “of course” come out of that little mouth, complete with the requisite *wink, nudge* inflection. You don’t realize how much you use certain words and phrases until you hear them echo back to you from the vessel into which you’ve been pouring them.

You know what my novel’s been saying to me? Certainly. Certainly. Certainly, with a sweet smile. Certainly, with a stiff nod. Man, do I use this word a lot! The next time I start editing something, I’m going to run a search for all instances of “certainly” before I do anything else. I’ll probably cut my editing time in half!

2. So you think you can spell…

In grade school, I was never the best speller. I didn’t even begin spelling the word “maybe” correctly until eighth grade. Not because I didn’t know “maby” was wrong, but because, until then, no one ever bothered to tell me the correct way to spell it. There are no spelling bee trophies displayed in my childhood bedroom. Case in point, I just misspelled “trophies” just now.  Literally five seconds ago. Argh…

Nowadays, I tend to feel pretty confident in my spelling abilities. (Just ignore that little “trophies” incident, mmmk?) So, I thought it was strange to discover I’d misspelled “led” once… twice… thrice… EVERY TIME.

Seriously, “led”? It’s a three letter word! You can’t get much easier than that. Apparently, I spell the past tense of lead as if it was a chemical element. Lead.

And since it wasn’t an isolated incident, I can only assume I’ve been spelling it that way FOREVER. *insert embarrassed facepalm here*

3. What side of the pond are you on?

To read my rough draft, you’d be hard pressed to come up with an immediate answer. British spellings for words such as “axe” and “grey” have crept into my mental list of correct spellings, which we’ve already established is sketchy at best. And, now and then, I’ll find an errant “u” has sneaked its way into a word it has no business being.

I blame this entirely on too much reading.

As if there is such a thing. 🙂

(For those of you playing along at home, I am most decidedly on the west side.)

4. A little bit of this and a little bit of that.

Maybe it’s the instinctual peacemaker in me, but I have a hard time making firm declarations in my writing. Everything is a little toasty. Or slightly creepy. Or a bit sore. Or kind of sweet. Or a hint of such-and-such and a dash of this-and-that.

It’s all a little wishy-washy. (<— See what I did there?)

5. All. The. Breathing.

My characters all breathe. And I like to write about it. A lot. Every other page, someone is inhaling. Exhaling. Holding their breath. Letting out their breath. It’s a wonder anyone is left standing with all the air that’s whipping around in there.

What about you? What are your writing quirks, or what quirks annoy you as a reader? Tell me about them in the comments. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Top 5 Things I’ve Learned From Editing my First Novel

  1. JR Reply

    Nice list! I can *certainly* relate!
    My first novel had all five of the above. My spelling mix-up was Capitol/Capital. I had no idea they had different meanings.

    • A.K.R. Scott Post authorReply

      Ooo, that Capitol/Capital is a tricky one. The editing process is so eye-opening.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *