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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