Friday, March 16, 2012

Guest Blog: Virginia Winters "Revising and Editing"

I'm sitting at the kitchen table in front of the bow window. Beyond the glass, the bird feeder is busy this Sunday morning, with chickadees, purple finches, American goldfinches, doves, nuthatches and cardinals the most frequent diners. In front of me sits a mound of paper, my trusty MacBook Pro and James Scott Bell's book entitled Revision and Editing.

It's that time. The third in my Dangerous Journeys series lies before me in pieces, some in the bowels of the computer and some in that mound.

I read through the lot after I'd put it aside for a month or so. I tried to come to it with fresh eyes, and didn't edit or revise.

Now I'm on the hunt for the adverbs, the dreaded "ing", the clauses beginning with "as". My weapons are markers, orange and pink.

What to do about "had"? I've come to terms with removing or rewriting phrases such as "congealing on her yellow linen skirt" or "as she watched the birds" or any word ending in "ly".

But what to do about "had"? My English teacher and my Latin teacher were both tough. An event in the remote past called for the pluperfect (past perfect) and nothing less.

The complaint by current writers seems to be that the use of this tense slows down the action. I like the clarity of knowing just when events occurred and in what order. I want to understand the cause and effect, and I need the past perfect for that.

So what happened in the past, stays in the past, held in place by that useful little "had".
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Virginia Winters - The Facepainter Murders, available at and

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