Adventures in editing. [Revisiting this and that]
One of the words we writers tend to overuse is the word ‘that’. If you don’t believe me, use your search/find option in your word processor’s editing tool and see how many times you find it in your work. Obviously, it is sometimes appropriate to use ‘that’ in your sentences, but other times it can be eliminated. Here’s an example:
“I think that this gives you a chance to start over,” Vince said.
It’s not grammatically incorrect, but it isn’t necessary, either. Instead, say:
“I think this gives you a chance to start over,” Vince said.
Here’s another example:
He arranged to add his name to the multi-business sign that graced the front lawn at the office building, and bought paint to cover the walls of his new space.
In this instance, ‘that’ should be replaced with ‘which’ (…which graced the front lawn…) but it sounds even better when written like this:
He arranged to add his name to the multi-business sign gracing the front lawn at the office building, and bought paint to cover the walls of his new space.
When I did a search for ‘that’ in Three Empty Frames, I found 806 of them!!! I’m in the process of finding all those ‘thats’ and eliminating or replacing them.
Some wise and helpful words from my friend and mentor: Roger Moore.
Revision “We are not writers, we are re-writers.” I do not remember who said this, but it is extremely well said. We write, yes. But then we rewrite, sometimes obsessively, again and again. But how does that rewriting process take shape? Why do we rewrite? How do we rewrite? And what do we do when […]
via Revision — rogermoorepoet
Sometimes I forget to listen to the most basic advice. One of the best ‘rules’ of writing is to show and not tell. ‘Telling’ or over-explaining in fiction can really make the story drag. Twice now, I’ve lost momentum in my two works in progress and haven’t realized why. After enthusiastic beginnings and two great plots to develop, the stories became burdensome and I lost interest and joy. How does that happen?
Fortunately, in talking it over with another writer, it was brought to my attention that with my science fiction piece, I had been trying to ‘tell’ everything –that is to provide an explanation for every little circumstance that arose in the story. Granted, it is my pet peeve when I don’t understand ‘why’ something is the way it is, so I tend to lay out settings and background information logically. But a little of that can go a long way. Additionally, information can be woven throughout the story incrementally so as not to overwhelm [read: bore] the reader in the beginning. Besides, I’m already asking the reader to suspend disbelief in writing science fiction, so it only follows that certain aspects just can’t be perfectly explained –they just ‘are’ they way I’ve written them. And trying to explain everything just makes the writing tedious. I know all this, but I just didn’t apply it. Showing and not telling is more enjoyable for the reader AND the writer.
Happy writing and productive editing!
Header image via Pinterest.