If you want your story to fly off the page – then it’s all in the editing.
Once you have a near finished draft, it’s important to go through it and cut any unnecessary words. I use Mircosoft Word ‘Navigation’ – CTL ‘F’ key. It’s brilliant. You type in a word and it will tell you how many times you’ve used it, shows you page numbers and allows you to navigate easily between these sentences to fix them.
I have a list I work through. It started when my Beta readers commented that I used certain words and phrases too often – everyone grinned (mostly inappropriately!), there were lots of smiles flashing and a few too many calming breaths! There are plenty more, but I don’t want to embarrass myself too much.
We all have our own pet words to search for and destroy, but here’s a list of a few that are universal.
ly words – Usually these words are added to weak verbs. It’s better to change the verb in question and delete the ly word. (walked quickly – ran)
ing words – Sometimes we use too many ing words and the prose would be improved by a rewrite.
ALL Variations of said: whisper/shout/mutter/ etc – As my editor pointed out, it should be obvious by the dialogue itself how it is said. If not, rework it. Also if its obvious who is talking you can get rid of the speech tag altogether.
Look / gaze / sat / walk and other weak verbs – replace with stronger ones.
Smile / grin / nod / shrug / cry / sigh – Any over used actions that slip in during the creating stage.
Yes, No, well (in dialogue) – These are often pointless sentence starters.
Just, very, quite, more, really etc – Filler words don’t add to the prose. The sentence becomes stronger without them.
Sense / feel / felt – These sentences can often be improved by rewriting. If a character felt something, it should be obvious by their actions without the writer spelling it out.
Contractions – Check they are used where appropriate in prose and dialogue.
Then, next – A creative writing teacher told me these are unnecessary (unless in dialogue)as everything in fiction is consecutive.
There was /were – Passive sentences slow the pace.
(I’m sure there are lots more to add to this list, please share yours)
Conclusion – Using Word’s Navigation (search and destroy method)
Lowers your word count.
Ensures your writing is succinct.
Roots out repetition and your pet words and phrases.
Helps you view the sentence in question separate from the whole, so you can pick out the problems and be ruthless fixing them.
You can see what words you use too often and become more conscious of them as you write your next draft.
Now your novel will fly off the page…
(This brilliant pic is off Pixabay.com. It’s the first time I’ve used someone else’s image, but the site said it was free to use.)
Tomorrow I’m up for a bit of Foraging.
Links to my previous A to Z challenge posts