Friday, 24 January 2014

Five Words to Cut from Your Manuscript

If you're writing the first draft, come back later.

If you've finished the first draft and you're looking to clean up your manuscript, keep reading.

Top five words that have no business being in YOUR amazing story.

1. Just. If your sentence includes "just," take it out and see if the sentence still makes sense. If it does, leave it out.

2. That. Same as above. And if "that" is referring to a person, change it to "who." For example- "The guy that works in the coffee shop is my secret crush" sounds better written as "The guy who works in the coffee shop is my secret crush"

3. Many. Instead consider; teeming, bountiful, myriad, copious. Even better, give a precise number. Instead of, "I had no idea this many people would come to the play" say, "I had no idea there would be almost a hundred faces staring at me on stage"

4. Very. This is perfectly acceptable for the first draft, but there's always a better way to convey the same idea. "Very clean" can be replaced with "spotless".

5. Most adverbs. Usually there's a stronger verb that can convey your idea without the aid of an adverb. "He fled down the hallway" is stronger than "He ran quickly down the hallway." A sprinkling here and there is fine, but if every second sentence contains a word ending in 'ly' your prose will be distracting.

BONUS: Write with language your character would normally use. An English professor and a street wise gang leader should have their own distinct, and flavorful point of view. Let your characters be genuine.

Happy editing! 


Donna Hosie said...

Another word that agents/editors will remove is "suddenly" - a word I used to put in rather liberally!

BR Myers said...

Good one, Donna. I'm guilty as well. Thanks for commenting.

Leandra Wallace said...

Good tips and examples you put with them! And oh, that tricky 'that'. Whenever I see it in my writing, I automatically want to pounce on it and delete it, even if it really is okay where it's at! I have a bit of a phobia with that word... =)

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