Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cut and Fluff

Rachelle Gardner recently wrote a blog post that I am going to blatantly steal from today. (Rachelle's blog is listed in my favorite blogs section in the lower right. It's called "Rants & Ramblings" and is well worth following.)

I've gotten pretty good at the cutting part during my rewrite process, but here is a list of things to look for when you decide to do some cleanup (a/k/a cutting):

  • Adverbs. Especially those with "ly" endings. I heard once that it helps if you imagine you have to fork over some money for every adverb you leave in your manuscript. My advice? Make sure it's enough money to force you to pay attention.
  • Adjectives. I just read that using two or three when one or none is better is a red flag to an agent or editor. Flush as many of these as possible.
  • Gerunds. These are words that end in "ing." I used to start gazillions of sentences with "ing" words. To me, it felt like I was getting right to the action. One is okay. Forty is a bit much.
  • Passive voice. Get rid of as many of these as possible: was, were, that.
  • Narrative detail (including interior monologue). Deadly to the story.
  • Passages that tell the reader what they already know. This is a close relative of R.U.E. (Resist the Urge to Explain.)
  • Unnecessary backstory. Trust me, most backstory is unnecessary.
  • Weasel words. These cover a lot of sins: this, that, these, those, it, to try, somehow, appeared, seemed, about, actually, almost, like, approximately, basically, close to, even, eventually, exactly, finally, just, just then, kind of, nearly, practically, really, simply, somewhat, sort of, suddenly, truly, utterly, were.

CR: Deception by Randy Alcorn. (I'm loving this protagonist. So funny . . . )

It's all better with friends.

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