WRITING & EDITING
TITBITS TIDBITS – Vol #1
Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned writer, no one can get away without having to edit their manuscript. It can be a daunting process—if you let it—but a good polishing will do your book wonders, taking it from mediocre to something great.
Now, I’m not here to claim I’ve mastered the art of editing because that would be far from the truth, but I have a few tips to offer that others may find useful. Keep in mind that the information below is only my opinion, taken from the knowledge I’ve acquired since becoming a published author. Take it or leave it, but I believe it’s a good thing for writers to help writers. So, here’s Volume #1…I’ll try to keep them fairly short.
- Find your crutch word/s and eliminate as many as possible. These are words that you overuse in your writing, repeating them again and again. A reader will pick up on them and, most likely, find it rather annoying, potentially discouraging them from reading your next book. When I wrote the first draft of my first novel, my crutch word was “that”. Not only did I overuse it, but the word is almost completely unnecessary in 95% of cases, and it’s considered a “junk word” in the literary world. Thank the heavens I had a wonderful editor who was quick to point it out to me.
- Pay attention to which tense you are writing in. Whether it is past or present tense, choose one and stick to it throughout the story. The tense should be consistent.
- Be careful not to repeat words within the same sentence, or even the same paragraph, wherever possible. Repetition annoys the reader, especially if you do this often. Here’s an example of what NOT to do:
‘His lips crushed hers with a ravenous kiss. Their lips moved with wanton desperation, their hands frenzied, exploring curves and muscles. He flicked his tongue between her lips and she opened for him, her lips and tongue matching his passion.’
- Don’t flood your manuscript with large blocks of detail, space them out throughout the story. Stick to the important details which will move your story forward, not bore the reader. E.g. A full page explaining what a house looks like will make the reader skim your work, possibly missing that one line which may be detrimental to the plot.
- Filters – Filters disguise themselves as the five senses. It is always important to write using your senses; however, the trick is not to use the words, saw/see/seeing, felt/feel/feeling, heard/hear/hearing, etc. wherever possible. These are filter words and they create distance between your POV character and the reader, reminding them that they are reading a story.
E.g. ‘Samantha heard the door slam.’
In the sentence above we have the information of what she heard, however, Samantha heard the door slam, not the reader. To make the impact immediate so the reader hears the door slam at the same time as Samantha, try:
‘A door slammed, the vibrations reverberating in the soles of her feet.’
Now the reader “hears” and “feels” the door slam right along with Samantha.
E.g. ‘She felt his hand slide up her back.’
That’s all well and good, and there’s nothing technically wrong with the sentence, but how did it feel? What was the sensation she experienced? Try something like:
‘His hand slid up her back, the heat of his palm warming her skin through her silk gown.”
Now the reader can “feel” it.
E.g. ‘He saw a white van in the driveway.’
Again, nothing technically wrong with this sentence, but to make this immediate and have the reader “see” it at the same time as the character, we could use:
‘A white van sat in the driveway, the moonless night hiding the license plate in shadow.’
In conclusion, remove the filter, make the information immediate and use a “show” rather than a “tell” so the reader can see, hear, feel the same sensory information as your POV character.
That’s all from me for now, but look out for future posts on W.E.T as I have at least one more up my sleeve.
Happy writing…and editing!