Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Final Read Through

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope you all find this year to be happy, healthy, and successful.

I'm back from my research trip and have volumes of material socked away in my mind for location, people, culture, texture. There's nothing like going someplace fully with the intention of researching for a novel to help you see all the little nuances you'd miss as a tourist.

Traveling has set me back a bit on writing here, which I plan to rectify this year. Look for an update at least once a week as my novel is completed, goes off to the agent, to the publisher and beyond. I'll keep you all posted on all the tricks and tips I learn along the way.

The other set back was on the goal of finishing the book by 12/31. I'm a touch off, but not too bad. Which brings me to the all-important subject of today's post: The Final Read Through.

After going through the whole novel, following the Ten Point Revision Strategy we've discussed, there's still one, immensely important task to do. The Final Read Through.

In order to do this, you must get some distance from the book. Many authors suggest putting the book into the desk drawer to let it cool. For me, the trip to Turkey was perfect. I didn't bring my computer, I didn't work on anything else. I didn't read novels or book or magazines on writing. I let my brain cool. With that, I knew that when I got home, I'd be able to re-approach the novel with fresh eyes.

The goal of this read is to really check for language flow. By this time, after completing the Ten Points, character should be solid. Premise should be like a rock. Major description, flow, pace, all of it should be where you want it. With this read, you're just trying to see how the book. . . reads.

I make little changes to sentences. One thing I really try to do is to limit the amount of times that I back into a sentence. An example:

Sitting on the back porch, Doug reached for his glass of wine.

That phraseology is called, backing into a sentence. the subject is Doug, the action is reaching for the wine, the first clause is purely descriptive.

Now there's nothing wrong with occasionally backing into a sentence. The grammer is ok, and it's nice to use this phraseology to break up the constant; subject-verb sequence. But it can be over done. Check your writing. Occasional is ok, too much is too much.

I also focus on length of sentences, which usually tend to be too long. For the most part, shorter is better. Keep the book moving along with well clipped sentences.

Word selection we've already gone over with the Ten Points, but here again is an opportunity to make sure each word is really working for you. Saying exactly what you want it to do, as powerfully as possible without the need for modifiers to strengthen it.

I'm on chapter 8 of this read. Hopefully I'll be done by next week.

Then it's off.

I'll keep you posted.


Jennifer Shirk said...

Good luck editing and with your submission!

Jack Payne said...

"Backing into a sentence." That's a good way of evaluating it. Something I have never done. Nor have I ever given any thought whatsoever as to length of sentences or paragraphs.

I must be the odd ball of odd balls. Yet 56 books, 7,000,000 words in print, and over l,000,000total book sales must indicate that I have done something right (all past tense...I am now retired).

Nontheless, your tips are well worth considering for the aspiring writer.

Todd D. Severin said...

Thanks for your kind words, Jennifer. I'm almost done!

Todd D. Severin said...


Thanks for the compliments. Coming from one with your experience and expertise, that means a lot.

abby villa said...

enjoyed reading this particular post. i like words and playing with them and am keen on honing my writing skills. thanks!

Tara said...

This is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you! Best of luck with your latest book.