… that’s how long the first revised draft of Four Shards of Heaven is in manuscript. 108,819 words. I finished going over it this evening, cleaning up the inserts I made and catching a few errors here and there. I also did a search for a few phrases that I thought might be showing up far too often. As writers we tend to find little short-hands for passing on information, and sometimes we can become over-reliant on ones that feel natural to us.
For example, my characters tend to take a lot of deep breaths. They also nod. A lot. So I had to go through the book and cull dozens of these gestures, inputting new ways to convey what I wanted the reader to feel or understand.
One can also get too attached to a particular turn of phrase. I thought, even in writing the book, that I might have used the phrase “the world + some verb” on more than one occasion. E.g., “The world went dark around him”; or, “The world spun.” Well, when I finally finished and did a search for this construction, it turned out that I’d used it more than a dozen times, which meant it was losing any efficacy it might have had.
It’s frankly difficult for a writer to notice these sorts of things him or herself. If you do, you know it’s bad.
I think I’ll start keeping a physical list of my overused wordings, which will no doubt grow longer as other folks look at my work with more objective eyes than I could ever manage.
Anyway, the manuscript is now off to a couple writer friends who volunteered to read the whole in order to give me final feedback before I send it off to agents. Which reminds me: I need to start writing a synopsis of the book. Apparently I’ll be needing that!