I assume that the process of editing varies for every writer, but regardless of how it’s done, it is a very necessary and painstaking process. There may be writers out there who can publish their first draft, who require no extra polishing or very little; I am not one of those. Lacking in that wonderful talent, I am forced to go through many different stages of editing to bring my work to an acceptable level.
The editing stage that I’m currently working on is tightening up my novel, which also relates to my last blog – Frustrating Word Count. This tightening step makes my writing better, the information more concise, and the story clearer, with the wonderful side effect of reducing word count.
I use various methods for tightening my writing:
Removing my excess wordage. What I mean by excess is using one word to say what I sometimes say in three or four words. This type of excess wordage creeps all through my text. For example: The science of flight has advanced over the years. This can be better written, Aeronautics has advanced over the years, making the noun stronger, more noticeable, and the word-count less. I have just cut four unnecessary words.
Remove my weak modifiers, words I use for emphasis. I tend to use modifiers a lot in my writing and they really aren’t necessary. See, I did it again! The modifier really is superfluous in that sentence.
Remove my unneeded nouns. For example, The amount of coffee I drink is too much. I should write instead, The coffee I drink is too much. There go another two more words!
Get rid of my extra verbs, articles, and prepositions that profusely find their way into my writing. For example, I will make changes to my story. Instead, I will change my story. The verb, make is unnecessary. Another example, The subjects that are found in public school are basic. Better would be, The subjects in public school are basic. I have just dropped three more words!
Use concise writing. For this, I use my Dictionary of Concise Writing by Robert Fiske. I use too many wordy phrases in my writing that can be reduced to fewer words. An example he gives in his book: “Mr. Branch was an acquaintance of Miss Gregory.” This is better written: “Mr. Branch knew Miss Gregory.”
It’s amazing how losing excess words makes the writing clearer and better to read.
I’m sure that I have other bad habits to my writing that I’m blinded to when editing, but that’s where my much needed editor helps to teach me.
If you have any helpful tips for me, I would love to hear them.