Cutting the clutter.
Revision is more than cutting scenes, rearranging paragraphs, and adding plot points. It's also about the little tweeks and cuts of words that add no meaning to the prose.Do you have specific words that you come across regularly on your revisions? Do you have a list of words that you cut from all your writing?In one of my revisions I found 107 counts of 'just' in the first 20 pages. It is a 'no-no' word, or a use-at-your-own-risk word. I found that cutting most of the 'just' in those first 20 pages didn't effect the story one bit. It only improved the prose. I didn't cut all of them, maybe I will in my next revision.Here is my list of words to watch for:Just, so, such, very, really, even, at all, certainly, definitely, exactly, anyway, some.I also look for words that end in -ly. Sure adverbs are fun, a few are necessary, but they can be replaced using the correct verb to get your point across.
In one section my characters were "nodding" like bobble heads. Ack!I regularly have to search & destroy "was, were, that, had & had been." Using present tense often works better. Some of these can be replaced with more specific words, i.e., replace "was sad" with "felt sad." Most can be eliminated, especially when they refer back to something already stated.Often, my feeble attempt at editing succeeds & I enjoy the result. Occasionally though, the question arises, "Is all this editing keeping me from writing?"How much self-editing is enough?
Filter words are my downfall, those words that, if we’re not careful, can only come from the author and thus take us out of the character’s POV (Janet Burroway may have coined the term). If I turn my back for one second the damn things grow like weeds: See, hear, think, touch, wonder, realize, watch, look, seem, feel can, decide, sound, know, find. To that I add “was” as in, “he was…” For examples on how they distance the reader can be found in Suzannah Windsor Freeman’s blog, here: http://writeitsideways.com/are-these-filter-words-weakening-your-fiction/