Posted by: jeannineatkins | February 15, 2008

Getting to Neat Sentences, and Chapters

The words are lining up properly today, and I’m thankful. After months, okay, years, writing a picture book that morphed into a chapter book that grew into a full length novel, which I’ve rewritten half a dozen times, things are falling into place. I’m at the home stretch as I’d say if I knew anything about sports metaphors, which I don’t, but am saying anyway just as yesterday my daughter tried to explain the import of a weekend at Tulane. “It’s like the Superbowl, only basketball,” and we both laughed, knowing neither of us knew what we were talking about. Anyway, I’m getting close to filling a padded envelope and ferrying it to the post office one lovely day.

Scenes have been added and others fattened up. Conversations are going on a bit longer, though as part of the process, rambling happened, which days later I cut. Grow and snip, grow and snip. I’m letting my metaphors mix here after months of watching every word, every image that verged on double-meaning: should I let it? Is every character both clear and complicated? Mostly I focused on creating a strong narrative arc, while I added and cut. Would readers keep turning pages? Was something important happening on every page?

Now it’s clean up time. Looking out for dialogue or words that seem redundant. Is every “she said” needed? If I switch the order of two sentences, will a picture come more forcefully to the reader’s mind? Reading aloud, is there a rhythm, and can every sentence fall without having to gasp for breath?

No wonder all this took a while. Now back to giving each sentence a close look, and stacking up chapters that I check: done!



  1. YAY for your wonderful progress! I’m cheering you on! 🙂

  2. Yay for you moving through and getting stuff done!

  3. I appreciate the cheers, esp as my steps forward just turned to slogging! Sending them back to you!

  4. Thanks, Jama… your message came just after I tripped out of the zone. Am trying to stumble back in.

  5. whoops, sorry, Debbi, obviously I hit the wrong reply!

  6. Thanks, Jama. I am trying……….

  7. I totally identify with you! So glad to have read this

  8. I love reading this. Makes me feel less alone. Thanks!

  9. Thanks, Jill. Your words make me feel less alone, too.

  10. Congratulations on the reaching the final stretch, the photo finish (if your images are really clear:>), the two-minute warning, or whatever the heck sports metaphor works best for you!

  11. Jeannine,
    This is one of the best descriptions of this part of the process I’ve read. Layers and layers of revision, and you can’t work on them all at the same time, darn it! But each little bit gets you closer. Sorry it turned to slogging, but congrats on pushing through!

  12. Thanks, Laura. The two-minute warning, yikes! No wonder I’m not a sports fan. How do they stand the stress????

  13. Thank you!

  14. Thanks, Becky. It almost always turns to slogging, but I don’t always get congratulations for pusshing through — so thank you!

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