Revising Leah

July 25, 2008

What’s Past Is Passed

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 10:23 am
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Certain homophones give me trouble when I write. Until recently, I’ve had a lot of trouble with “passed” and “past”.  The other day, I finally settled the distinction (in my own mind, at least) once and for all.

The word “passed” is a verb — specifically, it is the past tense form of the verb “to pass”. When “passed” appears in a sentence, it always serves as a verb. For example:

Leah was surprised by how much time had passed.

The word “past” can be used as a noun, a preposition, or an adverb. It is its adverb and preposition roles that has caused the most confusion for me. A sentence like this,

Luckily, Melanie and her friend didn’t want to stop and chat, and they walked past her and disappeared into the crowd.

used to give me a lot of trouble. In the sentence above, “past” functions as a preposition while the word “walked” is the verb. If I were to rephrase the sentence and write, “they passed her and disappeared into the crowd,” then I would need a verb and “passed” would be the correct word choice.

So the way I decide which word is the right word is simply to think about the parts of speech. I ask myself, is past/passed being used as a verb or as some other part of speech? If I’m using it as a verb, then “passed” is what I want; if it’s not a verb, then “past” is the right choice.


July 16, 2008

Progress Report #5

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 5:44 pm
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I’ve been very busy these last two weeks, so I haven’t been able to work on the novel (or post in this blog) as much as I’d like. This busy period is approaching an end, though, so my pace should pick up a bit.

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I’ve entered the second phase of this revising process. What I’m doing now is reading through the text, from the first page to the end, as though I were reading someone else’s novel. I try to read at an average reading pace — the same speed I read when I’m reading for fun. What I’m looking for as I read is anything that trips me up, anything that causes me to stop and question what I’ve written. Most of these little snags are at the level of sentences, words, and punctuation (I’ve found a lot of typos in the text so far). When I encounter these snags, I’ll either correct the error (in the case of a spelling error or word choice problem) or I’ll revise the sentence if it’s a sentence-level problem. Occasionally, I’ll come upon a sentence that I can’t easily fix or that I can’t decide how to fix. In those cases, I just highlight the sentence and move on — I’ll come back to it later.

So far, I’ve been reading silently. Last year, when I was at this stage of my revision process for The Spring, I would sometimes read the text out loud. I found that very useful because when you read a text out loud it sounds very different (both literally and figuratively) than reading it silently. I’ll read out loud eventually, but for this round of reading, I’m finding and correcting too many textual snags so it’s just more efficient for me to read silently.

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