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Thursday Things

Thirteen Things to check when I edit (Disclaimer- your list may vary depending on your writer idiosyncrasies.)

1. ‘ing’ words: make them more immediate and descriptive.

2. ‘look’: do I mean expression or seeing something?

3. directionals like ‘up, down, out’. In many cases they aren’t needed. Sat implies ‘down’. Stand implies ‘up’.

4. ‘eyes’ rolling around the room. I mean, really, it’s a simply wonderful visual, isn’t it? Make sure your eyes are in your characters heads and their gaze is doing the roaming.

5. ‘could’ do things. If it’s hearing then they ‘heard’. makes the writing tighter and clearer.

6. Garbage words: Somehow, just, again, so, now, but, really. There is often a better way to say what I want to say without using these words.

7. begin/began/started to: Get on with the sentence, I don’t need to intro the action.

8. think, know, realize: ditto with number 7. Tell WHAT the character has realized, what they think.

9 … : This is one of my baddies. I really like to use … for emphasis and for people trailing off their words. But too much of anything is too much.

10. move: Another of my common oopsies. People don’t simply move. They walk, strut, shift, sneak, plop. So much more descriptive than ‘move’.

11. and then: Jane sat on the rock and then Dick pat the dog. Jane laughed and then she pat the dog too. A little too step A, Step B, Step C.

12. characters saying each others names: While I have to make sure that the he’s and she’s line up properly I have to avoid my characters slipping names into every sentence. A habit that I’m trying to break.

13. spell check is not always your friend. Shutter means something totally different than shudder. :)

and rule 13B, remember to ignore the rules when appropriate. Characters who speak a certain way need certain words. My writers voice may call for some garbage words. The goal is not to blindly obey the ‘rules’ but to make the story tighter, cleaner and more enjoyable to read. If that means throwing back in a few things I’m going to do it.

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12 years ago

Fasinating Viv. Unfortunately, some of my favorite words seem to be on the ‘NoNo’ list.

I’m copying this to my pc so I can hopefully make fewer of those and of other…


Viv Arend
Viv Arend
12 years ago

They are no-nos for me, Sandie, because I was using them too much in my writing. But I still find that when I write, I just let myself go ahead and use them.

Then I try to go back and edit them out!!

I’m starting to be able to combine in a few areas. I seldom use the word ‘move’ while I write any more. I try to think of a more desriptive one right away.

Roland Hulme
Roland Hulme
12 years ago

Brilliant post – should be required reading for every aspiring writer.

My baddies? The dash. –

I tend to use it as a pause, but there’s really NEVER an excuse to you use. ‘;’ semi colon or ‘:’ colon is the correct punctuation. Pity nobody knows how to use them properly.

I’m with you; I overuse ‘…’ all the time. It should only EVER be used to indicate an unfinished sentence, but I tend to use it to indicate a pause.

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