Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Stuck in the Muck--Editing Tip

If you have't noticed, the Tuesday spot on the OA blog has been void of posts as of late. Recently, I've been given a great opportunity for my fantasy novel, which now sticks me in the muck of editing. Once I'm able, I'll share with you all more about the opportunity and let you know the outcome.

This opportunity also includes me revising my novel, including changing the POV from 1st to 3rd. (Sigh). As I've been going though the manuscript, doing other edits as well as changing the POV, I've notice key words bogging down the writing. So after I complete each chapter, I do a find/search function and go though each of these words.


I was very generous with the use of directional words. Instead of saying "he sat" I would often put "he sat down."  The word down is unnecessary and slows down the prose. Same way if I said "he looked up to the sky."  The sky IS up, so why would I need to add the directional tag? I don't. "He looked to the sky" is just as effective (and lowers the unnecessary wordage).

Another thing that I did was having everyone looking. He looked. They looked. She looked. She looked at him. He looked at her. You get the idea.

Now, this doesn't mean that you CAN'T use these words. I'm a firm believe that all words have rights. Even  was and had deserve to be used, too. It's the OVERUSE of words that give problems. So I do use the occasional "look" or "up" but took out a bunch when I could.

So what words do you find yourself using a lot? If you made a list, what would it be?


Angelica R. Jackson said...

My search words are similar: just, that, even, up, down, only, was, and felt. It was scary how many times "just" and "that" appeared in my manuscript--but it did reduce my word count once I eliminated them, and hooray for a smaller word count!

Tina Moss said...

Here are my biggest offenders:
a. Upon
b. Just
c. Then
d. As
e. Had

Unknown said...

I have no idea what my worst offenders will be, but as soon as finish my draft I am going over it with a fine tooth comb and will have to report back my findings. I am grateful to be aware of this!

LinWash said...

I use "suddenly," "just," and "surprised" way too often!

Sharon Bayliss said...

My writing is always lousy with "just".

Janice Sperry said...

I used to use too many 'start to' and 'begin to' but I've trained myself to stop that. I actually do a search for the word to because it usually accompanies something I should cut.

Jade Hart said...

Oh, I just copied and pasted this into my 'editing' file! Words for me are 'stared and again' sneaky things! lol

Jennifer said...

"like" and "as if" are words I keep a look out for in my writing. Interestingly I found that the overused words shift with projects. With my first book I made a list of the overused words to edit out. When editing my second book I pulled out the list as a starting point, but realized quickly that the list wasn't as helpful as I had hoped. I wound up developing a different list of words to keep an eye out for as I did revisions and edits.