Writing is an art and a process. The best writing requires revision. So, as you finish up your #NaNoWriMo masterpiece, it’s time to think about ways you will strengthen the work that you’ve done (after a much deserved pat on the back).
One easy step is to tighten your writing—or remove wordiness. Here are a few quick tricks to tighten your writing:
Look for “There was…” “There was” is a quick writing construct that helps us get the thought on the page. But, too many of them can be clunky. Change the construct to a more action-oriented sentence.
Example: Change “There was a dog in the corner.” to “A dog growled in the corner.”
Look for weak verbs. Search for “were/have/has/had/is/am/being/been” in your writing. These verbs keep the thought process moving in a first draft but can slow down the ultimate action of your story. Replace these inactive verbs with something more active.
Example: Change “Snarling dogs were all around them.” to “Snarling dogs surrounded them.”
The “be” verbs can also signal the passive voice. So, when looking for these verbs, make sure the subject of the sentence is doing the action.
Example: “The horse was frightened by the dog.” to “The dog frightened the horse.”
Should a noun really be a verb? Sometimes we use the noun form of a word when the verb form might tighten our writing. Look for words ending in “ion” to see if this can help your writing. Also search for words ending in-ize, ent, and -ence.
Example: Change “A congregation gathered in the plaza to protest.” to “Protesters congregated in the plaza.”
Example: Change “The improvement was due to the hours of hard work she put into her writing.” to “Hours of hard work improved her writing.”
BONUS EDITING TIP: Know your common typos. As I stated in m y post “Proofreading for the rest of us”:
“Do you tend to repeat the same mistakes in your writing? Perhaps if one word ends with a “t” and the next beings with a “t”, you tend to type only one of them. Know that about yourself. Also, watch for an “in” that’s supposed to be an “is.” The small words can cause you much consternation…”
For more tips on cleaning up your writing, check out some of my other articles: