Friday, February 17, 2012

Quick Edits (Redux Post)

I don't have a Friday Google Reader Roundup for you today, BUT! I am in the throes of finer editing of my ms and thought the following post from November 19, 2009, was a good one to revisit. It's about those little words when you get to the stage of editing when you're paying attention to actual words. Original post had some good comments and additional suggestions.

Quick Edits 
I always worry that writing succinctly comes easily for everyone else in the world, but I know it doesn't, or else there wouldn't be so many books and tips out there.

The fact is, no one is perfect. It takes years to be great, and even then it's hard to catch everything. Can you imagine what it must have been like for people who wrote on typewriters, or before that, long hand? Ugh! Painstaking! I read recently in Writer's Digest that an author whose debut book had just been released chose to write on a typewriter, and that when he made a mistake or had to rewrite a line, he would type the whole page over again because it forced him to....I don't know what. I don't get it. Thank God for word processing software and especially for the Find function.

Which brings me to what I do Finds for (Control + F for those who like shortcuts):
  • about (especially "about it"--found TONS of these)
  • actually
  • almost
  • like
  • appears
  • approximately
  • basically
  • being
  • even
  • eventually
  • exactly --astonishing amount of these. Ack!!
  • finally - one of the most disgusting ones since it's often a sign of redundancy
  • just
  • just then
  • kind of
  • nearly
  • only
  • practically
  • really
  • seems
  • simply
  • slightly
  • somehow
  • somewhat
  • sort of
  • strictly
  • suddenly
  • truly (it was just gross how many I found)
  • utterly
  • was (and was there, was it)
  • were
I deleted about 700 words by doing this (!!!), and I know the text was tightened as a result. Fair dos: I didn't make this list up. I found it, and I'm sorry but I can't remember who posted it but I suspect maybe Rachelle Gardner. Anyway, it's a superb list and you'd be amazed at how quickly and instantly text can be cleaned up by searching for these. Enjoy.

Do you guys have any easy tricks for cleaning up your writing?


Steven J. Wangsness said...

Oh, yeah, I used this trick after reading it on your blog when I was doing the third or fourth edit of TAINTED SOULS. It helped identify a few inartful things.

Diane Henders said...

Great list! I also search "ly". It's a painfully long search, but it forces me to look at each and every adverb and decide whether it's necessary and/or whether I need to rewrite the passage entirely.

I write in first-person POV, so I also search "I saw", "I heard", and so on. Sometimes those phrases are effective if the narrator is detached from the action, but often it identifies a weak or passive sentence.

Good luck with the MS!

Sierra Godfrey said...

Thanks Trav/Stephen (Cripes, what do I call you now??) for using this. How sweet. I just started using it this morning and holy criminy, what a lot of offenders I am finding.

Diane, totally agree, it's painful but a must.

Linda G. said...

Great list! I'm a "just" slut myself. I throw that sucker around with abandon.

Sierra Godfrey said...

Ha ha Linda! I discovered I'm an Actually slut and a Just slut, for sure.

Sierra Gardner said...

Awesome - so glad I'm not the only one! I definitely use the find function a lot. I also speak my writing aloud on a fairly regular basis - that often helps me identify weak points (especially when I'm reading it aloud to someone else). And of course I love me some adverbs so I do an -ly search pretty often =)

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