The Meticulous Edit

Lately I’ve ignored my blog. Not because I did not want to write on it, but because I am working on a self imposed deadline and I have had to dedicate all of my writing time to my novel. It’s the great tug of war between project and platform and I’ve lost. But I’m okay with that.

The joy of my novel has returned after being sucked dry by the upheaval and Editingenhancement of various plot details. Now, I’m flying through while examining each comma, period, adjective, and sentence. I’ve become a better writer and am editing faster and faster as I encounter the same mistakes. It’s like revisiting a photo album and watching yourself grow up as a writer as the novel goes along.

Here are some things that I’ve done to reduce waste. I realize the more I strip down each sentence, the better the flow of the story is.

  1. Destroy all prepositional phrases. Most of the time I realize these are unnecessary and each sentence is clearer when they are removed.
  2.  Delete long meandering paragraphs of description. I had a lot of these and they were darlings but I had to kill them. When I examine them in compared with my target audience (children 14-18), they must go. Young adult fiction has no time to wander about as it must contend with video games, online videos and the like.
  3. Look for duplicate words in the same paragraph and either cut them out or add something new.
  4. Be wary of adverbs. Excitedly, jovially, whatever-ly. I try to remove them all. However there are times when I feel they belong.
  5. Look for descriptive but non-descriptive words – large, small, box, red, dirty, bad smell and replace them with another more colorful one – gargantuan, miniscule, trunk, crimson, soiled, and pungent. Sometimes you’ll find one of these words takes the place of three.

These are just a few problems that I look for when editing and is just the tip of the iceberg. The main objective is to make each sentence as lean as possible.

If you are editing and have tips of your own, please share them in the comment section below. Otherwise, happy writing and editing.



12 thoughts on “The Meticulous Edit

  1. In first round edits from my publisher, I was tasked with finding all passive verbs and fixing them. It didn’t take long for me to realize that passive verbs = wasted words. Now, when I read a passive verb, I get a little itchy.

    Great post, Bob. This is a good one to bookmark for my editing phases!

  2. Gwen

    Adverbs sometimes get a bad rap, but I agree they should be used sparingly (hehe). Removing them also affords an opportunity to show, rather than tell. Great post!

  3. This was a really helpful post, thanks Bob – I liked the point about replacing descriptive words with more colourful ones. I always read out loud when I’m editing – for some reason this seems to highlight errors, especially in dialogue.

  4. I think adverbs have their place, as do adjectives. I pretty much edit by the mantra, ‘everything in moderation’, and when I’m in doubt I cut (but save it in a Little Darlings folder for possible use in another story).

    Everything needs to be weighed and measured carefully when we edit. Tedious, but rewarding at the same time.

  5. Pingback: How To Finish Your Writing Projects – PART-TIME NOVEL

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