It seems that each time I finish a novel and start revisions and proofreading, I get fixated on a different issue. This time it's linking verbs (copulas). That's not to say I've ignored fixing instances of linking verbs and passive voice in previous novels, because I don't ignore them, but last night I added a feature to my proofreading app to flag copulas in the current sentence displayed.
I started finding more of them than I was happy with, and maybe that's what comes out of banging out 83K words in 16 days, though I think I'm better off to have the production and fix issues than to be still sitting here with an unfinished story.
It reminds me of a story Jack Nicklaus told of his golf development. If you're not a golf fan, Nicklaus was always known for monster drives off the tee. He was a big, strong kid, and his father was his coach. Nicklaus could 'hit it a mile', but worried about his drives straying too far left or right. His father told him, "Don't worry about that, son. First learn how to hit your drives hard. We'll straighten them out later."
Well, that worked for Jack Nicklaus, so I'm going to clutch that strategy for my writing. Get the book finished first, worry about straightening it out later.
So just how bad is the "fixing"? The book has 6930 sentences. As I type this, I have 474 yet to proof. I've either corrected typos in, or revised, 686 sentences ... so close to 10%. But that's not the end of the story, I had already pushed through maybe 20% or 30% before I added the copula display feature. So once I'm finished, I'll write some code to only pull back up the sentences with linking verbs and go through that again to review the sentences I checked off before the feature. This will duplicate some work, because while I've revised many sentences to remove linking verbs, of course they're perfectly fine some of the time, so I'll review those sentences again, too.
Copulas aren't the only thing I've been revising. I started out with about double the number of occurrences for the word "to" that statistics indicate would normally be present in 83K words of fiction. Part of that comes from the action heavy nature of the story. Some of it comes from "I should just get rid of 'to" in a lot of places". So far, I've cut out about 200 of them.
The way my app works, I keep track of revisions. So when I complete the first time through, the app bumps up a revision number, and I go through again just looking at the revised sentences. That's because it's just as easy to introduce a typo while I revise. That process continues ad infinitum until I don't revise anything. Luckily the revised sentence count gets much smaller with each time through. I think the most I've ever had is five diminishing passes.
Back to the salt mines ...