Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Editing Mi-Steaks

There are some who enjoy a juicy steak and the fat lacing its edges. Then you have those who prefer to take the time and trim the fat, section by section, until that juicy steak is lean and mean and growling to be eaten.

Which of the two are you if you compare the steak to a manuscript? Do you leave in a typo or two thinking a reader/editor/agent won’t notice? Or are you the type who diligently goes over each word making sure excess wordage is eliminated?

The latter is a persistent writer. The first? Perhaps dependant on the editor to catch everything. However, once you realize what to look for when editing, each subsequent manuscript will have a tighter first draft.

This article I want to concentrate on ‘redundancies’:

“Martha, I have a free gift for you.”

FREE GIFT: is there a gift that isn’t free? Perhaps, but for this sentence the added ‘free’ part can be eliminated and the sentence doesn’t lose its meaning.

The loud banging woke me up at 4a.m. and I couldn’t go back to sleep because I was now awake.
Hmm…beginning states the character woke up. Adding everything after sleep is redundant.

The clerk looked over the register and said, “The sum total is twelve dollars.”

The sum…The total…but not The sum total

The report was adamant at his closing: The final outcome…

The outcome suffices.

“Oh, Nancy, come see the extra additions I’ve made to the first floor.”

Come see the additions…

“Oh my. This is an unexpected surprise!”

Not sure about you but a surprise is usually unexpected.

June looked at the clock. It read 9p.m. in the evening.

What part of the planet does one have to live in not to know that p.m. means evening?

James pulled the chair for Isabelle and she sat down.

No need for ‘down’ because one usually sits down. It’s part of a logical order of things in life.

Excessive word count can be found in every manuscript. I may have a few in this article, although I tried to eliminate the added word count that sounds like unwanted luggage that is going to cost me a pretty cent and may eventually end up reading like a run-on sentence. GRIN

Here are a few more that can easily be cut down to size:

I am in possession of the silver dagger…

I have the silver dagger.

It is my opinion that many writers rush their work…

I think many writers rush their work.

All of a sudden, the clouds turned murky gray...

Suddenly, the clouds turned murky gray.

Due to the fact that one sister didn’t talk to the other…

Because one sister didn’t talk to the other.

Do you have any repetitive words or phrases you’d like to share?


Lin said...

I grew up in Farm Country. I got to meet that cow sitting on your plate, and be a part of caressing the milk out of her. I would leave the rich marbling, let my mouth water, and dive in.

Am I that way in my writing? Probably. I learned grammar in Grade School from the nuns, and they haven't met and adjective or adverb they don't love. (Shhhh, come closer. They want you to love them just as much...whether you want to or not!)

There is a lot of the nuns' militant affection for grammar that I have to UN-learn.

Do I leave that process to my editor? Hey NO!

I appreciate their scalpel sharp ability to take my story and help me make it is ultimately MY baby. By the time they get it, I have gone over it with th experienced precision of a brain surgeon...and if you don't believe me...look closely...see all those little glossy spots? You guessed it...Liquid Bandage rapidly aiding in my wounds healing process.

What I am is a "by-the-seat-of-my-pants-writer."

My Muse, her name is Nudge, grabs me by my hair follicles and makes me write manically...every day about something and somewhere. If my story has me weighed down and the next sceen just will not come to bridge the writer's block, I work on creating cover blogs, working to share sparkling repartee in e-mails, or entertain in chat rooms.

To Recap...(1) I knew that steak on your plate when it was a wee calf. (2) I am undisciplined when Nudge is not on fire. (3)I puddle jump my way through till Nudge is ranting and raving that I get pen and paper out so she's can channel through me.

L. K. Below/Lindsay Below said...

I know one of my weaknesses is the word THAT. Without realizing it, I use THAT word even though it might not always be necessary. But I always try to go through the manuscript before I send it off. I'd rather correct it sooner than later.