Before you let that novel go out into the world to be torn apart, do some of that yourself. When writing your first draft, it’s a matter of getting the words out, not right. But don’t let those unnecessary words stick around. Sometimes a simple search in your manuscript will open your eyes. Here are a few things I check on:
1) Words that promote passive writing
For example “I heard the birds chirping.” can be easily changed to “The birds chirped.”
2) Words that can be replaced by a more active verb or are unnecessary altogether
STOOD UP – never need the “up” because that’s how you always stand
SAT DOWN – again, you always sit down, so don’t need the “down”
3) Crutch or pet words – you can eliminate most of them
4) Double preps
For example, “He looked over at her.”
5) An egregious use of -ly words
Not all are bad, some are needed. Just don’t use them unwisely.
For example, “I feel so bad for you,” he said sadly.
Sometimes needed, sometimes not. Regardless, a hard one to search for
I hope this will promote an ongoing conversation within the group, people identifying those things they look for when going through their own editing process.
Until next week – Don’t Look Down
by William Darrah Whitaker