Saturday, March 1, 2008

An Editing Tip

The following quote from Write to Done caught my interest, as did the way that I “stumbled” on the site. I'll write about the latter tomorrow. For now, let's consider editing.

Streamline your writing to grab your readers and drag them along the journey, even if they had intended to only read a few paragraphs before cooking dinner. Ideally, your story will compel them to keep reading while their fettuccine boils over onto the stove.

You do this in many ways, but stripping repetitive and useless words from your writing takes you a large step closer. That brings me to the quote in question:

“I’m not saying you’ll have to check every single word in your novel (although, if you have the patience for it, it would probably do the book a lot of good). All I suggest is that you do a page a day, and that you take notes. Keep track of which words you delete. Look for patterns. Make a list of words you consistently delete, which will narrow down your later searches to a simple Find/Replace.”
Many writers have phrases that pop up repeatedly in their writing. If you keep a list of the words and phrases that your strip from your pieces, you may find yourself frequently excising the same ones. Once you're aware of them, you should start catching yourself as you add them rather than having to return later to pry them out of the full story.