Friday, August 13, 2010

Some more words for revising

I've been finding so many more traps in my writing that I hadn't even thought of before. Let's consider them, shall we?

Probably The odd thing is that ever since I started noticing this in my own manuscripts, I've been seeing it used in published books. You know what? It isn't needed 90% (or more) of the time and 5% of the time it is used incorrectly. Consider: "He probably was mad because I left the milk on the counter again." Hmmm. I think we know he is mad, so why would he probably be mad? He is mad. He might be mad because the milk was left on the counter. But since we are presuming this is a first person sentence, then we most likely know why he is mad. So let's strip the probability out of the sentence all together. "He was mad. I had left the milk on the counter. Again." See, that's much nicer. It gets the point across and that pesky probably word is gone. When you edit through for this word, read your sentences without the probablies and see if they don't read more concise and more sure.

I think Really? You just think? Get rid of it. It's stupid and doesn't belong there. Up for editing: "I think I can put my on my own pants." It's an I statement. Don't I know if I can put my pants on or not? Strip it. "I can put on my own pants." Ah, there's a strong character and a strong statement. Where would I leave an "I think"? Here: "I think I know how to get there." It shows that the speaker is unsure of what she is doing. That's what you want to portray. Unless, of course, you know that your character really does know how to get from Space Mountain to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad without getting lost.

was _____ ing You know what was ____ ing is. It's when you write was and any ing verb when what you really meant to write was past tense. For instance: "She was already feeling lightheaded and woozy." Really? Did I really do that? Yeah, and unfortunately I did it quite a big. Come on, Lorna, just say it like it is "She already felt lightheaded and woozy." Gah! One would think you never took honors English!

That Here is another word that we tend to throw in that just doesn't belong. Strip them. Go ahead. Put on some really good stripper music and take it all off. What am I talking about: "She was thankful that he was there to lend extra support." See? It doesn't even belong there. It isn't needed. It's a filler word that I would use to earn my Word Padding Badge over at NaNoWriMo. But it doesn't belong in well-written sentences. "She was thankful he was there to lend extra support."

Well, that should keep you busy for a while. And don't forget the stripper music. It's really important (because this is all really fun and easy editing. Save the Cold Play for the serious editing!)

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