Search & Destroy!
Sidling through the densely packed words, you close in on your target, red pen or delete button at hand. You know you can’t hesitate when you take out the target. The word you aim for must go! DELETE! Another unnecessary word bites the dust.
I’m currently doing a major edit of my manuscript. Going through it literally line by line, asking myself what needs to go, what needs to stay, what can be rewritten to make it tighter, allowing a smooth flow. I used Hemingway Editor for the first run through of each chapter. The program highlighted the adverbs, hard to read sentences, passive voice instances, and spelling errors. Took a few days to get this done, but I found the task worthwhile. When making the changes to the manuscript, I made other changes to continue the flow of the words.
A wonderful man by the name of Randall Andrews, the head honcho at Writers World read the first chapter. He pointed out where things needed to be improved. I am guilty of using Laundry Lists. Lots of them.
Here’s an example:
“I like working there. Sherry phoned me yesterday saying she’s bringing a new box of books purchased at an estate sale. Who knows what treasures she found? Besides, you own the shop. I’m doing my part looking out for your interests.” Jen drank some coffee. “Don’t forget, there’s the party at Lyta’s and Nicole’s tonight.”
“That’s tonight?” Ravyn drained her mug, setting it on the table at the foot of the bed. Like every morning, Ebony jumped onto the king-size bed and curled up in the middle of it. “Looks like Eb is making sure I don’t go back to bed after you leave.”
The master bedroom held a king size bed with lots of pillows, two dressers and two nightstands. Three framed reproductions of old maps hang on one wall. On the east wall are two framed photographs.
“I like working there. Sherry phoned yesterday. She purchased a box of books at an estate sale. Who knows what treasures she found? Besides, you own the shop. I’m looking out for your interests.” Jen finished her coffee. “Don’t forget the party tonight at Lyta’s and Nicole’s.”
“That’s tonight?” Ravyn drained her mug. Like every morning, Ebony jumped on the bed. “Looks like Eb is making sure I don’t go back to bed.”
If an item isn’t relevant to the story, don’t include it.
The comments supplied by Randall I’m applying to the rest of my work. Time-consuming, true, but I want my writing to flow.
Another program I have is Smart Edit. This cost more than Hemingway Editor, but with more options you can turn on and off. Another interesting feature, you can export the reports for reading at a later time. Here’s some of the items it checks for: Repeated Phrases and words, adverb usage, clichés, and suspect punctuation.
What else do you need to look for when doing a major edit of your masterpiece? One that comes to mind; to be verbs. Here’s the list: am, are, is, was, were, be, been, being, become, became. Use the search option in your word processing program. If an above word is highlighted, read the sentence where it’s found.
I haven’t been able to find anything on my parents.
I haven’t found anything on my parents.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some instances when you can’t avoid using a ‘to be’ verb. It’s all right, don’t worry about it. There is such a thing as over-editing.
In reading through what I wrote, I came across another word I frequently used; thought. ‘She thought it over’, ‘they thought it over, and ‘he thought it over’. I couldn’t believe how many times I used that word. Again, the delete button comes into play. Sometimes rewriting a sentence to get rid of the word.
Look for ways to spice the writing up. Avoid weak adjectives, like the following.
She’s not too smart
This is very big
This is huge.
Keep an eye out for misused words as well. The one that annoys me when reading other books is the use of ‘reign’ instead of ‘rein’.
Once you finish this task, read back through the manuscript. Read it out loud to see how it flows. That’s another way to see if it flows.
Editing is a lot harder than the actual writing of the book, but changes you make show you care about the story and your potential readers.
Here are a few other words you should search for and get rid of.
May the words ever flow!