Saturday, November 28, 2009

Find and destroy the problem words.

I have been going through my first draft of the story I want to get published. This edit was to catch and write out the narratives, but I started to do something else that really has been a help. Using the Find function to look for my problem words.

Problem words are ones that cause problems in your writing, pretty simple. But you might not know that use are using them.

Some of the ones that are problems for nearly all writers are:
The -ly words. It is so easy to make an adverb. Just add an ly and you have one. But too many and its a sign of lazy writing. "She sat on the couch quietly watching the news." It tells you what she is doing just fine. But it could be. "She sat on the couch watching the news." We really don't need the word quietly. Think of other ways to describe her interest. "She sat on the couch. Hunched over, eyes riveted to the television. The local news was on."

The -ing words. I didn't realize that words ending in -ing could become a problem. The words are not bad, but they can alert you to a lazy sentence. "He was running." Nothing wrong with that. But if you were in the middle of an action scene. It would seem dull. "He ran down the street." A little more descriptive. But if you want to say "He was driving the car." And the sentence doesn't seem lazy. Keep it.

My problem words.
ONLY. Until I started to edit, I did not see how many "onlys" I used in my writing. "Only it was the wind." or "She only wanted to see what was going on." or "The water tasted good, only for the aftertaste of rust." Almost every paragraph had the word only in it.

There or That. Again not really problems words themselves, but they did point me to some awkward sentences. "There was a sound of glass breaking in the entry way." could be "The sharp tinkling noise of glass breaking was heard in the entry way."

I am sure there are many more. Figuring out what words are problems for me, had helped me speed up my editing. And helped me get rid of awkward passages. So now before I even read the passage I am editing, I run these problem words through the Find function of my word processor. After I get rid of them, or rewrite the sentence, I go through the passage in a line by line edit. I can work on editing other aspects of the writing.

I hope this helps.

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