Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Grand Editing Contest Results

The Editing Contest for Overused Words and Phrases, etc. is over. 

All the results are in and have been officially tabulated and confirmed by Price, Waterhouse. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, please fasten your seatbelts, and let’s have a dramatic drumroll and drumstick.

  1. The First Prize Winner is . . . Zada Kent!
  2. The Second Prize Winner is . . . Zada Kent!
  3. The Third Prize Winner is . . . Zada Kent!

Now you’re probably wondering how one person managed to win all three prizes, especially since the results specifically state a person can only enter the contest once. Well, the answer is very simple. There was only ONE participant in this writer’s contest. Zada submitted a very thoughtful, intelligent edit of the page from my novel, and she deserves to be the Grand Prize Winner. Of course, she doesn’t win First, Second, and Third Prize. Gosh, I was just having a little fun. But according to the rules, she does win First Prize, which entitles her to select any three of my MuseItUp books in the format of her choice. Her choices are (in order) “The Blue of Her Hair, the Gold of Her Eyes,” the winner of Preditors and Editors 2010 Annual Readers Poll; the novel Dark Wizard; and the extremely dark and perverted “Wet Dreams.” I am delighted to send them to her, along with my congratulations.

And now for the answers. Please follow along with the rough page from the first draft of my novel, bearing in mind there is a certain amount of subjectivity in editing, and editors will differ on precise edits. Also, I have to confess I inserted some extra repetitions to make this page more of a test. Okay, scribblers, here we go:

1.  Most obvious, at least to me: there are too many “that’s” on the page, a total of SEVEN of them. Folks, if this is one page, and your novel is 300 pages long, you could have a total of 2,100 “that’s.” Assuming half of them are superfluous, then you have at least 1,000 too many.

Paragraph seven – “I don’t think that you’re going . . .” Just remove the “that.” Paragraph eight – “There’s something that I’d like to know . . .” Remove “that” again. (Save words, make it tighter.) Paragraph twelve – I changed “That small?” to “So small?” (Use a little variety.) Paragraph fourteen – I shortened “That’s amazing!” to “Amazing!” Then I recast the next sentence to eliminate not one but two “that’s.” Thus: “You know, it reminds me of a Greek myth involving Zeus.” Since “that” is a necessary word, there’s little danger it will vanish from my novel, and by pruning it, I not only tighten my prose, but find a way to vary it.

2. Without going into detail, I use “like” on four occasions. Check it out yourselves. Are all those times necessary?

3. Even repeating myself twice may be questionable, especially if it involves using the same word close together. Zada, for instance, points out I use “gazed” in the fifth paragraph and “gazed at” in the sixth. On the other hand, I don’t believe repeating the words “Make love” in the second and third paragraphs are a defect because it’s obviously done for a specific purpose. However, is it really necessary for both Turtan and Yaneta to “pause” at different points on the page?

4. Last, there are similar or repetitive phrases which probably need revision. Yaneta “swept her gaze over him,” and “He swept his eyes over her body” (paragraphs 5 and 10). Turtan says “Just a moment” not once but twice (see if you can find them.)

How harmful are such invisible defects? Obviously, some are more serious than others, especially if they become visible and detract and distract from our story, our plot, our characters, and also, our language. The competition for elite markets and publishers is hard enough without making it harder for ourselves by sabotaging a fine manuscript with words and phrases we’ve used so often they’ve become second nature. So use your Find, your Find and Replace tools, train yourself to recognize such offenses, and good luck in your editing! 

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Editing Contest!

Another guest blog by author John Rosenman

FELLOW WRITERS AND READERS, here are the rules for this week’s contest. Please observe the following:

1. Read the page below from my novel featuring overused words, phrases, etc. It might help to reread my blog, “The Hidden Killers of Your Writing,” remembering that not all repetition is bad or avoidable.

2. Only one entry per person.

3. Send an explanation to me by e-mail ( ) no later than Monday, July 8 at midnight. Be certain to identify precisely all the instances of overused words, phrases, etc. that you find and, in some cases, the obvious remedy.

4. I’m offering THREE prizes to three different individuals. Just click on this link, peruse the eight MuseItUp books I’ve published, and decide which ones you want to win and in what order and format. Third place gets the first book on their list. Second place gets the first two books on their list, and first place gets all three books on their list. BE SURE TO SPECIFY YOUR CHOICES IN ORDER!

5. In case of a tie, multiple prizes may be awarded.

6. I am the only judge, and winners will be announced here on Wednesday, July 10.

* * * *


From the first draft of Inspector of the Cross (It is available here.) Our hero is reluctantly about to make love to his beautiful alien bride who is a member of the enemy.

“This is so much,” she said. “All these irrational human emotions, not to mention what Turois . . .” She sighed. “I will have to think about them, Turtan. Reach a conclusion.” She paused and then placed her six-fingered hand on his cheek. “Will you be able to copulate with me?”

“Make love.”

“All right. Make love.”

“I’m not sure, but if I did, it wouldn’t really be you, Yaneta. It would be some other woman I’ve known. I wouldn’t have anything at all for you.”

She rose, naked, and swept her gaze over him. “Perhaps I’ll have enough for both of us.”

He gazed at her, then removed his hands from the covers. Pulling them down, she examined him.

“You know, I don’t think that you’re going to have any trouble at all, Turtan.”

“Just a moment,” he said as she knelt on the bed. “Before we go any further, there’s something that I’d like to know. How do you . . .”


He swept his eyes over her body, so human-like and yet so different. “I’ve always wondered how you Cen had babies. I mean, are they like ours?”

“Yes, only much smaller.” She held two of her fingers wide apart.

“That small?” He paused, feeling dazed. “And where do they . . .”

She laughed, then leaned down and whispered in his ear.

“Really?” He reached up and touched her hair. “Just a moment. You mean they come from your head? That’s amazing! You know, there’s a Greek myth about Zeus that’s like that.”

Roughly she straddled him and slid him into her, her face intent. “Did anyone ever tell you,” she said, starting to move, “that you talk too much?”


Start editing! Be sure to send your email by midnight on Monday, July 8. And don’t forget the list of books you want to win!

John B Rosenman has published nearly twenty books, including SF action-adventure novels such as Beyond Those Distant Stars and Speaker of the Shakk (Mundania Press), A Senseless Act of Beauty (Crossroad Press), and Alien Dreams (Drollerie Press and Crossroad Press). Shorter books include A Mingling of Souls and Music Man (XoXo Publishing), Here Be Dragons (Eternal Press), The Voice of Many Waters (Blue Leaf Publications), Green in Our Souls (Damnation Books), and Bagonoun’s Wonderful Songbird and Childhood’s Day (Gypsy Shadow Publishing). Visit his website or blog to learn more.

Labels: , , , ,