Monday Classroom: See-Saw/Watch(ed)/Look(ed) – cleaning up our manuscripts, y’all (and no whining allowed!)

Morning all y’allses out there, wherever you are. I first want to say how much I appreciate you. Many of you come by here for every post, and there are those of you who leave comments regularly. Thank you.

I have not been able to return the favor as I used to, but I am subscribed to many of your blogs if you have that capability, and I do read your posts in my email. I know many of you are in the same ole boat–so much to do, so many blogs, so much social networking–Lawd!

I am behind on writing The Lightning Charmer because I whined too much instead of trusting my process.  “I caaaaaan’t write this boooooook. Cause it suuuuuuucccckkkks and I suuuucccck!” I have a deadline; I have already received my advance; I have people depending on me, readers waiting. There should be No Whining Allowed! But whine I did. I felt stuck.

After four published novels and a novella, you’d think I’d Have This. But we can always create some angst, can’t we? Lawdy be in a bucket – yes. Folks, sometimes just switching a scene around (making something happen earlier–as I did to TLC) or turning the manuscript on its head in some other way does the trick–Hey! Why, there it is! There’s the thang I was looking for hiding in plain ole sight–haw! And then the “flutter” of excitement begins in my/our belly and off I/we go! Give that sucker (your manuscript) a shake and see what falls out. Do whatever it takes to make it seem fresh  and alive. No Whining Allowed! (Okay, you can give yourself “whine time” as long as you do not give in to it for longer than two shakes of a hippo’s tail.)

Sometimes it is appropriate for a character to see-saw/watch(ed)/look(ed). But oft-times we write the character seeing looking watching when the direct action would work better. Right? Riiighhht!

For example, let’s say there’s a scene in Tender Graces where Virginia Kate and Micah are on the porch in the Looseeaner house after she’s left West Virginia.

Oh look! A rock. I am looking at the rock. You are looking at the rock. GMR is watching me look at the rock. I saw the rock. I see the rock and saw it and looked at it

Scene:

I looked over at Micah as we rocked on the porch. I saw him grin at me. I watched him run down the steps, pick up a pretty rock, and bring it back to me. He looked at me looking at the rock. I saw him look at me. We looked at each other and smiled. I watched him sit down. He looked at me as I rocked. I watched as he rocked. Then we looked at the sky because we were danged ole sick of looking at each other, sheesh.

Okay, folkses, I know that’s a little extreme, *teehee,* but you get the idea. Obviously sometimes we use looked/watched/saw, etc, because it fits the scene. Sometimes Virginia Kate uses the “I’m a looking fool” because that’s what she does–her thang; in those cases, I actually use it as a device, On Purpose, and I know it is On Purpose and the audience knows it is On Purpose–if they do not, then I ain’t done my job. This is what I mean about breaking rules or manipulating the language—if you are aware of what you are doing, if you are doing it On Purpose, it is fun to play with the language and it can be quite effective/affective.

If the sneakity sneaker thangs make their way into the work, then being aware of those sneakies will help tighten the manuscript.

Don’t stress yourself striving for perfection, especially in the first draft or two. I like to slam that story down first. However, the more you know instinctively, the less mess you have to clean up, right? RIIIIGHHHT!

Simplistically:
I saw the ball hit the wall. – The ball hit the wall.

I watched Marie jump rope. – Marie jumped rope.

I looked at Jennifer eating her pie. – Jennifer ate her pie. I want pie–this has nothing to do with this post, I just want pie now.

The audience will know the narrator is doing the watching/looking without us bomping them upside the head with it.

Playing with language and words is the most wonderful danged old thang in the world. If you tend to “over-do” or “over-use” certain words or phrases, etc, find ways to recast your sentences/phrases to create a tighter work. A swollen manuscript will become, well, not swolled up.

So, pull up your manuscript in your editing phases and do a search/find and see how many “look/see-saw/watch” you have hiding in there. You may be surprised.

Now–go Do This Day with Gratitude. And write.

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10 thoughts on “Monday Classroom: See-Saw/Watch(ed)/Look(ed) – cleaning up our manuscripts, y’all (and no whining allowed!)

  1. I’ve been doing my own share of whining lately. “But I don’t wanna rewrite the opening again. What if I get done and it still sucks? No body’s ever gonna buy this damn thing.” Etcetera, ad nauseum. So, if my friend Kat says so, it’s time to stop, and get to work tightening ‘this damn thing’ up.

    Your look/saw example reminded me of how much my characters: smile/grin/frown/arch a brow/narrow their eyes/press their lips together… Etcetera, ad nauseum. Sometimes I think I get to caught up in Show/Don’t Tell. Sometimes I just want to say, “She was pissed off,” or “It made him want to do a friggin’ happy dance.”

    You’re right about not always being able to find time to interact as much as we want. I appreciate getting your posts in my mailbox, and sooo appreciate when you take the time to give my little musings a shout-out!

    Keep on keeping on! We’ll get through this little whiny phase with a little hep from our friends (and even not counting each other, we both have some great ones, don’t we?).

    • Oh, I have to watch those things too! I found so many “Grins” in the graces novels *laughing*

      You know, I bet there’s rarely a writer out there who doesn’t feel this way – at least once in their career, but perhaps for some, like me, with every book!

  2. I don’t think we ever figure it out. I don’t expect to, as I keep learning, keep writing, keep reading. Speaking of interacting, I decided to quit about a dozen blogs in the last week or so. I realized I wasn’t reading them (not like I do this blog and a few others, regularly) – so why have them pop up in my email every dang day and annoy me? I don’t like to un-follow friends, but if their blog does nothing for me or help the process, then they must go. We are not super-people. Must keep time for writing!

    • I tell you – we just do the best we can! I follow a good many blogs, because I want to keep up – I don’t read them all, or read all of them all the time — though I did clean out a bunch of things recently that found I was never reading!

      I’m glad you come round here :-D

  3. Read your blog in my e-mail box and have been trying to comment all day. Actually it was refreshing for someone unpublished to know that those of you who are published still go through all the same struggles and doubts we rookies to. I found myself chuckling. Enjoyed some of your good tips about getting out of a rut. Looked at your book titles for the first time, and find them interesting. I write picture books, I can’t imagine writing MG or YA. Thanks for a great post!

    • And I couldn’t write a picture book – so there we all go, making the world go round in interesting and unique ways!

      And yup, the most seasoned of authors, even the Stephen Kings of the world, have doubt and angst and worry — we’re a needy bunch, authors are! :-D

  4. You can only do as much as you can. If you get a little behind, don’t sweat it. I love reading your blog regardless of where you are. You always have great tips for me. Thank you!

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