Then, there's my check list of words. I have my list of passive words, to be avoided at all costs. Then I move on to my list of favorite words, that I tend to overuse. I don't need to eliminate all of them, just cut them by 2/3.
While I'm combing through my scenes, I like to think big picture, too. Am I rushing the story? Do I need to add in scenes? In this particular book, I do need to add a few scenes in the front part of the book, to show how the hero is cementing his relationship with the children as well as the heroine. I often will work on a jigsaw puzzle when I get to this stage of the editing process. There's a great similarity between working on a jigsaw puzzle and finding ways to slip in new scenes into a story line. Here's a picture of my latest puzzle, which took many weeks to complete.
I like big, intricate puzzles, since they remind me of my stories. This puzzle in particular is loaded up with so many little things that you can't possibly see them all unless you're working with each piece. For instance, in this one, I noticed, just as I was about done, that one of the bottles on the shelf had his spindly little arms and hands wrapped around the neck of the bottle next to him. It made me smile. A little hidden nugget, the kind I like to blend into my story lines.
The puzzle is done, and I'm nearly at the end of the second draft. Still a long ways to go, with those pesky scenes that need to be written and inserted into the story line without upsetting the flow. Drafts three and four are yet to come before I can say I'm content with it. But at least I'm moving forward with what I think is a really good story. I'll be sure to let you know if an agent or editor thinks the same.
In the meantime, here's a picture of Mary in her new bed, which was a belated Christmas present. She had to wait until I could drive again in order to get it, but I think she'll agree that it was worth waiting for. Kind of like getting an offer from an agent or editor.