Tips I have found helpful from the Jerry Jenkins Writer’s Guild.
Writing Tip: Avoid echoes
As you are writing your first draft you are getting your thoughts out. But combing back through, read carefully as you don’t want the same words to appear over and over in your final copy.
She ran. As she ran her dog ran with her. They ran through the copse of trees and then ran to the edge of the water.
How would you change the wording to eliminate the extra four times ran is in the sentence?
Writing Tip: Avoid began or started.
This is hedging. Just say it.
He began to shout. He shouted.
She started to cry. She cried.
Writing tip: Watch out for state-of-being verbs (passive voice)
Is, am, are, was, were, be, being, been, has, have, had, should,
would, could, may, might, do, does, did, can, will, must
Replace them when possible to make your prose powerful. Examples:
Eric was walking Jane to her class.
Eric escorted Jane to her class.
Janice is lover of Christmas carols.
Janice cherishes Christmas carols.
There are things you do that make me wonder if I can trust you..
Convince me to trust you.
Writing Tip: Less is More
Less is more, so omit those needless words.
Most of the time you can omit the words that, just, and sometimes, had.
How many had survived the shooting? omit had
I just thought I should say something. omit just
She said that she would rather die. omit that
He put his hat on his head. (Where else?)
He put on his hat.
She put her gloves on her hands. (Where else?)
She put on her gloves.
I see paragraphs like this all the time. What could you omit to tighten this paragraph? Less is more. When you tighten, it adds more punch. The first paragraph is a sample to edit. The second, is a quick edit.
Chris Burrows lifted his face to the sunny blue, but cloudy sky and breathed in the scent of earth after a storm. Just calm down. It was better to be outside again. He slid his hands into his coat pockets, trying to warm his hands. It was cold. Here, at his childhood home, he sighed and turned away from the house he had vowed he never wanted to see again. The horrible memories. He felt just like he did as a child, remembering when his swearing, nagging mom would let him play outside after the beatings. Free. She was dead now. Good. Just burn it down. Why did it matter to him?
Chris Burrows lifted his face to the cloudy sky and breathed in the scent of earth after a storm. Calm down. Breathe. He slid his hands into his coat pockets, turned from the house, and sighed. He vowed to never return to this hell house. It reminded him of playing outside, free of his mother’s constant swearing, nagging, and the beatings that followed. But she was dead now. Good. Just burn it down. Why did it matter?
Writing Tip: Find and omit Redundancies
Redundancies may happen where you least expect them. Here are a few examples.
Redundant: He sat down.
Quick fix: He sat.
Redundant: He stood up.
Quick fix: He stood.
This one cracks me up. I’ve heard it at church.
“Stand to your feet.” Um, no thanks, I’ll stand on my hands. lol
Here are a few more. What words don’t belong? A clue? About half. I’d like to see how you would rewrite this horrid paragraph.
Just before dawn, about 6:00 AM the next morning, the day began as Jane watched and saw how adequate enough John and Justin were when they merged together their past experience. The three began to start thinking they would work well enough together as a team. The reason why they thought this is because they could revert back to her biography of her life and the end result would show that circling back showed that she liked their short stories in magazines. Moreover, she enjoyed their books as well. But, Jane, she became fed up and didn’t care for their repeated redundancies, those repetitions of needless words, so she stormed outside and they followed her out.
Wow! That was painful to write! Read through your writing and cut those redundancies!
Writing Tip: Avoid hedging verbs
frowned a bit
Either they smiled, laughed, or frowned or they didn’t. Make it clear.
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