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Friday, July 24, 2015

WOW! Book Blog Tour for Eric Trant's "Steps" & Guest Post: The Grinder: A Simple MS Word Automation That Will Clean Up Your Manuscript

The first draft of anything is shit. Ernest Hemingway

I'll let my host decide if she wants to edit that quote, but for me, I remember it and cite it as it was stated by a master of stating what should be obvious, but is not. I read through my first drafts with a shaking of the head. It is painful. How could I write ~that~. Good God, man, where did that come from?

I struggle with what to cut and what to keep. I usually keep more than I should, and rely on the editor or a critical reader (not a critique partner, but a reader) to help me identify the excess fat. I love it all, or I would not have written it. They tell me what I should bury in revision, what should be returned to the whitespace from whence it came.

However, even with an editor's eye and a critical reader's opinion, things such as weasels and passives can sneak up on us. A page littered with passives may say to the editor: Cut this page. It may say to the critical reader: This is boring.

Neither fully understands ~why~ they dislike the page, only it does not flow.

Furthermore, you might run into an editor (or a critique partner) who stabs every passive through the gut, condemns your adjectives and adverbs and weasel to death, until the story writhes on the page, twitches, and settles into a lifeless pulp.
Too much revision can take a good rough draft, pound out the lumps, round the edges, and untangle all the thoughtless knots—until there's nothing left but a bunch of flat, balmy words. Blech!

Sometimes the curves are what makes the road fun. Avoid straightening a draft ~too~ much, especially if it is based on someone else's style preferences (such as adverbs during dialogue tags, he wrote sarcastically).

So, with that in mind, I developed a stupidly simple MS Word script that highlighted my weasels and passives. I call it:
The Grinder

I have used it on every draft since about 2002, and it never fails to impress me how well it highlights troubled spots that are easily overlooked. It also offers the unique benefit of showing problem density within the manuscript.

For instance, a few passives are fine. I limit myself to no more than three or four per page. No problem. But The Grinder will highlight the problem areas by bolding these words, such that you can visually pick out wounded areas of your text. It also shows sparsity, and you can compare areas with few highlights to areas of dense highlights, and possibly improve your craft by saying to yourself: I write pretty good action sequences, but my laid-back scenes need work.

I recommend using The Grinder twice. First, use it on your original rough draft, prior to revision, before you allow anyone to read it.
Then run through your editing phase, which may require five or more revisions (I have 11 revisions of Steps).
Then, when that is said and done, and your editor says, Okay, we are at line edits, run The Grinder one more time. You will pick up what you added during revision, along with anything you missed during the rough draft phase. Since The Grinder only bolds your weasels and passives, it does not distract you during edits, and helps you focus on bigger picture edits, such as flow, plot holes, scenery, and so forth.
In any case, I hope you enjoy using The Grinder, and find it as useful as I have.

Click here to Download The Grinder

and now, more about "Steps":

Steps is a well-written science fiction novel you won’t want to put down. Following the Peacemaker family through their battle of survival will keep you on the edge of your seat as you wait to see what obstacle is next.

Society is falling to a ravaging virus, and the Peacemaker family is stranded in the mountains of Arkansas. Forced to band with a group of deserted soldiers, they battle to survive starvation, apocalyptic cataclysms, and a growing number of dangerously infected wanderers.

As their dwindling number struggles against ever-increasing odds, they realize they are not alone in the wilderness. A large creature is present in the hills, at first seen only as a fleeting shadow.

Now the family not only faces impending death from the unstoppable virus, they must also deal with the mysterious giant, whose footprints signify that he knows where they are.

Paperback: 218 Pages
Genre: Speculative Fiction
Publisher: WiDo Publishing (May 21, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1937178684
ISBN-13: 978-1937178680
Twitter hashtag: # StepsTrant

Steps is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Book Giveaway Contest:
To win a copy of Steps please leave a blog comment! Winner will be announced 7/31

About the Author:

Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novels Wink and Steps from WiDo Publishing. He lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, two teenagers, a toddler, and an angel baby watching over them all. See more of Eric's work at:





----------Blog Tour Dates

Tuesday, July 28 @ Selling Books
Join Eric Trant with a guest post titled "City Lights: Why it is Important to Turn Them Off" as he visits Cathy Stucker's Selling Books blog.

Keep up with blog stops and giveaways in real time by following WOW! Women on Writing on Twitter @WOWBlogTour.

Get Involved! If you have a website or blog and would like to host one of our touring authors or schedule a tour of your own, please email me at:


Enter to win a copy of Steps by Eric Trant! Just leave a comment below. We will announce the winner NEXT Friday, July 31ST!


  1. Hey Crystal, much thanks not just for letting me put up the Grinder here, but also for hosting my WoW blog tour. It's been a great tour, and I'm already looking forward to the next one. You are awesome.

    - Eric

  2. I'd love to be entered in the giveaway! I enjoyed his first book and this one sounds interesting as well. :)

  3. Hey Steph, good to see you again. Hope you win, and if you don't, lemme know. Maybe you could review it, eh. :)

    - Eric

  4. Steph!!!!

    You win 😀

    Email your address to: