Monday, April 16, 2012

Housekeeping Revisions

  Whose ready for a good spring cleaning?
  The cleaning lady came last week to put the final polishing touches on my manuscript. Armed with a delete button rather than a broom and dustpan, she got rid of extra words without mercy. If there was an “even” or a “just” it got swept away faster than nimble Jack could jump over the candlestick. The maid even found a couple of “started to” phrases. She tisked, thinking I should know better. Maybe she relished cutting 600 words from 76.000 because she left with a big grin on her face. Do you want to know my most common offending word? It’s as simple as . . . that!
  That. Half the time it simply isn’t needed for clarity. Read the sentence through without it while concentrating on meaning. Here’s an example of one I kept, one I didn’t within the same sentence:
Now that the king practiced a gentler rule and believed that all men were equal, he . . . .
Which one can you live without? I deleted the second to read:
Now that the king practiced a gentler rule and believed all men were equal, he . . . .
When you find that preceding a verb, you can often delete it and change the verb to the “ing” form. For example:
The arm that held the weapon moved to strike. → The arm holding the weapon moved to strike.
The priest made a noise in his throat that sent him into a coughing fit. → The priest made a noise in his throat, sending him into a coughing fit.
  Don’t forget to check through your MS for untidy words. You can find lists online. Here’s a few to generally avoid:  a little, almost, anyway, began to, proceeded to, started to, even, fairly, just, probably, really, slightly, somewhat, sort of, that, usually, very.
 

6 comments:

Hannah said...

I like the idea of spring cleaning manuscripts. Good reminder.

Renae W. Mackley said...

Thanks Hannah. Sometimes you get in the mood for it, but in my case, the timing was necessary. Getting ready to submit soon.

kbrebes said...

Yay for spring cleaning! Good post full of good reminders!

Valerie Ipson said...

Great post with very smart tips!

Renae W. Mackley said...

Thanks Kathleen and Valerie. Loved your comments.

Liesel K Hill said...

I hear you, Renae! I'm a major offender with just, really, and that. I didn't truly learn to edit my extra words until I took a class last year at Roundup from Maxwell Alexander Drake. always a great reminder, though. Thanks!