Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Editing Tips


Thank you so much for the great advice you shared with me last week about editing, especially about the editing software. I had no idea such things existed. Over the last few days I've gathered other editing tips and wanted to share them with you.

Eliminate unnecessary modifiers. These are words like possibly, simply, really, totally, very, supposedly, seriously, terribly, allegedly, utterly, sort of, kind of, usually, extremely, almost, mostly, practically, probably, and quite. The more clutter you can get rid of, the better your sentences will be.

Eliminate clichés.  When you say someone’s scraping the bottom of the barrel, do you actually picture someone scraping the bottom of a barrel?  Better to have plain, unadorned prose than prose filled with clichés. Microsoft Word’s grammar checker has a helpful feature that will automatically underline clichés with a green squiggly line.

Eliminate repeated words and phrases. In YA books a common phrase I see repeated often is when someone "rolls their eyes". It drives me crazy.

Search for extraneous thats and hads.

Straighten out your mixed metaphors.  If you’re riddled with doubt about a particular sentence, try treating every word absolutely literally to see if the sentence pans out. Make sure you’re conscious of every metaphor in your prose

When in doubt, throw it out. Sometimes I’ll find myself stuck on a particular sentence I can’t seem to fix no matter how many times I rearrange it.  This is when I step back, grab an ax, and chop the whole thing.

Highlight action, description, dialogue, and internal thoughts in different colors. I saw this in action awhile ago, but for the life of me I can't remember what author did this. What she'd do is highlight every part of her novel. For example, all internal thoughts in red, description in blue, and so on. By color coding her manuscript, she could immediately see where mistakes were, whether it was too many internal thoughts or descriptions, which slow things down, or too much action without internal thoughts. I hope that makes sense.

4 comments:

J. A. Bennett said...

I think one important thing that is not to be missed, don't edit so much that your voice is bland. It's okay to bend the rules for creative license, let your personality show through!

Maria said...

'When in doubt throw it out' is one I need to adopt. Thanks for sharing, I'm rewriting and editing my WIP, and finding it tough going!

L.M. Miller said...

These are great, especially in the midst of an editing frenzy. It can be daunting. "When in doubt, throw it out"=new motto.

Lorelei said...

Okay, gotta stop rolling my eyes! Thanks!