Rescuing Rita 

Originally, it took me three years to write all 102,409 words
of my novel The Rhyme’s Library. Most of those were stupid words. The story has
since had a major haircut and is now a trim 80 thousand and something novel, but
it’s still more verbose than it needs to be. I’m not saying that in the last sixteen
years I’ve gone from stupidity to witty cleverness. Not at all. I’m still learning,
and I’ve learned a few things and I want to share.

1. Use Grammarly—the best online editing program I’ve found,
so much more than a spell check.
Here’s an excerpt of my novella, Rescuing Rita, before Grammarly
Applause thundered through the hall, and Rita and swept into
a deep bow. The lights flickered as she made her departure, heading for the sanctuary
of her dressing room.
“Brilliant show tonight, Miss Ryan,” called a boy carrying
a food tray as they passed in the dimly lit hall.
“Thank you, Charlie. Can you be a love and bring me a pot
of tea?”
“Sure thing. Sad this being your last show and all. I know
everyone will miss you.”
Rita flashed her smile and fought back a wave of fatigue and
loneliness. “And I will miss all of you,” she said, knowing there was
one she missed more than all the others.
She blinked back the tears to which she had grown so accustomed;
they returned every time she thought of Christian. She ached, wishing that Christian
could be as predictable and ever-present as her tears. This wasn’t how the story
was supposed to end. She wasn’t supposed to go to Europe by herself.
If only their last words had been more loving. Because she did
love him; she knew that now. And yet in cruel spite of his absence, her love for
his memory seemed only to grow rather than diminish. She sighed and pushed into
her dressing room.
The Rhyme’s Library
Her clothes lay scattered around the room, vying for a space
in the large steamer trunk she would take to Paris. Flowers in vases crowded the
dressing table and perfumed the air. She dropped her cape to the floor and slipped
off her shoes.
All of her dreams had been realized. Yet she had learned weeks,
if not months, earlier that dreams are hollow and meaningless without someone to
share them. She would rather be riding in box car and sleeping on loose straw with
Christian than boarding a steamer ship and sailing first class to Europe alone.
AFTER GRAMMARLY
Applause thundered through the hall, and Rita and swept into
a deep bow. The lights flickered as she made her departure and headed for the sanctuary
of her dressing room.
“Brilliant show tonight, Miss Ryan,” called a boy carrying
a food tray as they passed in the dimly lit hall.
“Thank you, Charlie. Can you be a love and bring me a pot
of tea?”
“Sure thing. Sad this being your last show and all. I know
everyone will miss you.”
Rita flashed her smile and fought a wave of fatigue and loneliness.
“And I will miss all of you,” she said, knowing there was one she missed
more than all the others.
She blinked back the tears to which she had grown so accustomed;
they returned every time she thought of Christian. She ached, wishing that Christian
could be as predictable and ever-present as her tears. This wasn’t how the story
was supposed to end. She wasn’t supposed to go to Europe by herself.
If only their last words had been more loving. Because she did
love him; she knew that now. Yet in cruel spite of his absence, her love for his
memory seemed only to grow rather than diminish. She sighed and pushed into her
dressing room.
Her clothes lay scattered around the room, vying for a space
in the large steamer trunk she would take to Paris. Flowers in vases crowded the
dressing table and perfumed the air. She dropped her cape to the floor and slipped
off her shoes.
All of her dreams had been realized. Yet she had learned weeks,
if not months, earlier that dreams are hollow and meaningless without someone to
share them. She would rather ride in a box car and sleep on loose straw with Christian
than boarding a steamer ship and sailing first class to Europe alone.
2. Use wordle. Don’t know what wordle is? It’s a website that
creates word clouds out of any document—the more frequent the word usage, the bigger
it appears in the cloud. This is an easy way to find your pet words. One of mine
happens to be “look.” He looked, she looked, everybody looked. Try it
out at www.wordle.net/
3. Don’t use words you don’t typically use in conversation. I
actually stopped reading Elizabeth Peters’ novels because her frequent use of the
word orb bothered me. Some words shouldn’t be used more than once and some not at
all. Same with phrases. I read a friend’s novel where the lovers kept melting into
each other. I’m not sure what that means, but it sounds messy and really shouldn’t
happen very often. If at all.
4. Watch out for passive sentences. The Rhyme’s Library is riddled
with them. Example: the word COULD. Claris COULD hear a soft voice in the background—versus–Claris
heard a soft voice in the background. Another example: the word FELT. Claris ran
a finger along Alec’s glass of soda, and FELT the cold condensation wet her finger
tips. Better– Claris ran a finger along Alec’s soda glass–the cold condensation
wet her finger tips. Example: the word WAS. The trip to the morgue WAS a trip she
COULD make alone–OR–She’d go to the morgue alone.
5. Evaluate criticism objectively. Since writing The Rhyme’s
Library, I’ve been told the same thing by two industry professionals—my plots are
too complicated. The first to tell me this was an editor for a small romance publishing
company; the second was a reviewer for Publisher’s Weekly—the review was part of
the “prize” for my placement in the Amazon Novel Breakthrough whatever.
I live by the standard that I can swallow one critique with a sugar cube, but if
someone else independently tells me the same thing I should probably take note.
So, I’m reading my old manuscript and wondering–is this too complicated? Can I
be less convoluted? Another thing I’ve been told by more than one writerly person
is my work is “very British.” Can you believe that two people who don’t
know each other would actually use the words “very British?” I don’t even
know what that means. Or what to do with it. Which brings me to number 6.
6. Love your work. It may have wrinkles, fat rolls, and zits,
but ultimately, it is your story. It’s your baby. Love it enough to cut away its
rough edges. Coax it into simplicity. Shave off unsightly adverbs. Love it enough
to leave it in a sixteen year time out. And if someone tells you your baby is very
British tell them thank you very much and offer them a cuppa tea.

About the Author

Kristy is the mom of six incredibly brilliant and beautiful children,
and the author of several novels. Although many of her novels have won awards and
have ranked on Amazon’s top 100 list, Kristy has yet to realize her lifelong dream
of owning a Schnauzer farm. Kristy studied English literature at Brigham Young University
and at BYU’s International Center in London.
For updates on Kristy’s upcoming novels, please visit her blog
at:kristystories.blogspot.com

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