Editing is hard. First off, it's hard to see your own blind gaps. Test readers help and I want to call out the following people: Brian M, Mark F, Ben D, and Tony R. In a draft, I end up with so much mark up over 100s of pages and 10s of 1000s of words that I look at it and go, "Ugh." Like this demon in the picture (not my art; thank you Google search), Bomoki's Gate was always right there teasing me. "Come on," it'd say. "Come sit down, grab a drink. Start this editing for real."
I woke up at 5 am this morning and 7 hours later, I've finished the last 100 pages and incorporated notes from the test reader group. I'm exhausted. But, I thought I'd share some of my own learnings, for the curious and for other writers.
You can't pick up a book about writing without seeing how adverbs are the devil. So, let's start with that. Adverbs have a role. Some readers, because of articles like this, feel like adverbs are authors lazily being lazy (see what I did there?). True? Not true? If you go pick up a book by an author you consider amazing, you'll find adverbs there. They, like sprinkling salt and pepper or Siracha on food, use them in story sections where they want to: a) slow the pace down, b) ensure the reader does not miss something, and c) to help the reader remember character, item, or setting quirks. Think about it: adverbs affect story pacing.
I have learned I have stupid words I need to not ever use. These are:
It's good to remind the reader who is saying and doing what from time to time. This becomes most apparent for other readers, since as an author, I know exactly what is going on at all times.
Like adverbs, any advice on writing will tell you to go sparingly on commas... but beware! Comma usage is changing in the English language and there are those out there, on either side of the fence, that feel commas are the load-bearing wall of sentence structure. I thought that, with Bomoki's Gate, I would finally perfect comma usage and kept a copy of EB Strunk & White's Style Guides with me fastidiously (adverb) throughout writing BG. Test readers did not notice. I still missed commas that should have been there. I find commas missed in my own writing just as much as I see it highlighed by the test readers. Sighs. Apparently, there are 20 levels of comma mastery. I thought I was at least at 10th level, but it seems I might only be at 5th.