One Writer’s Journey

September 7, 2017

Cutting Excess Verbage

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 6:16 am
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remove filtersAs I work on my chapter book project, I’ve been studying various fiction writing and rewriting techniques.  In part, this is because I’m trying to produce the cleanest manuscript possible.  I appreciate writing that is straightforward and concise.  I want my writing to be similar.

Because of this, I work to cut excess verbage.  A lot gets cut when I rewrite but I’m also trying to be more aware of the words that I’m laying down as I draft a chapter.

What am I cutting or avoiding?

Very.  Instead of walking very fast, my character should stride or lope.  Instead of closing a door very hard, my character will slam or bang it.

Beginning or starting.  This is a personal weakness for me.  My characters don’t need to start 90% of the actions that follow this particular word.  What do I mean?  Why start to speak?  Start to look? Start to leave? Just speak, look and leave.  Simple.

Another one that I just read about is often called filtering.  When you filter, you use phrases like “she saw” or “he noticed.” You might say “he heard” or “she felt.”  It works something like this.

If you filter, you might write something like – Annie saw the bullies stomping across the playground.  Her stomach lurched.

Remove the filter and write – The bullies stomped across the playground. Annie’s stomach lurched.

You can tell that Annie is our POV character.  After all, her stomach is lurching at what she sees.

Instead of writing “he heard the sound of the doorbell,” write “the doorbell rang.”

Replace “she noticed that the key was missing from the hook” with “the key was missing from the hook.”

“The clammy draft ghosted across her ankles” takes the place of “She felt the clammy draft ghost across her ankles.”

Fingers crossed that I don’t find too many instances of filtering in my work.  No one wants to dumb things down but why place excess verbage between the reader and the story?

For additional posts on rewriting, check out:

Picture Book: Rewriting is like Home Improvement

Rewriting, Revising, and Using Things in New Ways

Rewriting: Working from my Editor’s comments


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