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The editing: ‘looking’ at issues

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My editor returned the text of Through my Eyes. Again. in under 10 days - much faster than I had expected - and I am now working on a myriad of suggestions. The first result of this is that Chapter 6 of the sequel Through Different Eyes has languished and still exists in outline only - my apologies. As we are also fast approaching the end of a truly chaotic, Covid-19 impacted Academic year here in Australia, my free writing time will be further reduced. I am however determined to get the draft of chapter 6 out before Christmas - after all, editing things like comma usage can be mind-numbing and I will need creative breaks.

One of the issues raised by my editor was to examine every use of the word 'look' (and its variants such as 'looked', 'looking' etc) as I had perhaps overused it. I have lost count of the times I have read through TMEA - but I hadn't noticed that problem, so it couldn't be a big issue. I loaded up the complete text in Word and told it to search for 'look' - 953 occurrences it dispassionately advised me. My brain leapt out of my skull and did a quick, yammering circuit of the house. In a twenty-chapter book, that is nearly fifty occurrences per chapter and approaching 1% or the total word count.

Once I had recovered a modicum of balance, I gritted my teeth and set to working this issue. Upon examination, some of the offending sentences can just be pruned as not advancing the story. Others required a minor rewording - but some necessitated deep thought and reworking across several sentences and occasionally paragraphs. After 8 chapters, I have reduced the 'look' and variants to 503 and the task continues. The current record is eight occurrences on one page and I have found only a single occurrence that cannot be changed - a reference to Alice's looking glass.

My excellent editor has pointed out a number of other issues - such as 'show, don't tell' in a few places, a possible pruning of a particular content type and several ideas for extension related to a couple of characters.

This is going to keep me busy for a while…