I've been having a busy, happy time going back and forth with my brilliant editor for revisions and edits on the fifth book in my Franklin School Friends chapter book series. The first four books - Kelsey Green, Reading Queen; Annika Riz, Math Whiz; Izzy Barr, Running Star; and Simon Ellis, Spelling Bee Champ - are to be joined by a book starring struggling student Cody Harmon, with a pet show story line (Cody has two dogs, two cats, three chickens, one rooster, and one pig).
Margaret's final email to me late last week had only a few lingering teensy things for me to address. Oh, and this: "There is an overabundance
of the word all throughout the manuscript so can you please cut or
change some of them?"
I called up my 65-page, 15,000-word manuscript and began searching for all. Of course, Microsoft Word also flagged every use of actually and the name of one of Cody's two cats, Furball, as well as various and sundry other ways in which all was embedded in other words. But as I went page by page reviewing each stand-alone all, my cheeks began to flush, and then to flame. Oh, the shame of it all! Wait, no, cut that last word! Oh, the shame of it!
Cody's dilemma in the book is how he can take all of his pets to the pet show given that he can't afford the entrance fee for each one (the show is a Humane Society fundraiser). He loves his golden retriever, Rex, best of all. His badly behaved terrier, Angus, is the worst of all. What if doesn't come up with any money (he already spent his birthday money on pet treats), so he can't take any pets at all? But all of a sudden, his friend Izzy has an idea. And it involves a way in which all of his pets can come to the pet show, after all.
I kept a tally of all of my surplus alls, and when I was done de-all-ifying the manuscript, guess how many I had taken out?
Fifty-five!!! Plus, for good measure, two of my twelve actuallys.
Shame gave way to pride at such a stupendous job of all-extraction on my part. At first I was the most ashamed author of all. But now, with my manuscript well and truly purged, I'm the happiest author of all.