5 Quick Tips to Make Your Writing Shine18:43
Line edits are where the real magic happens. You’ve got the plot and characters nice and solid, the setting’s good and your scenes contain plenty of action and conflict. Now, in line edits, you get to give your writing the polish it needs to really stand out and grab readers. Today I’d like to share five quick line editing tips to help your writing be tighter, more vivid, and engage your readers more in this awesome story you’ve written. These tips are also great to keep in mind when you’re first writing your book too.
Slay the Passive Voice: Passive voice is often what makes an action filled scene feel flat. Take a look at this sentence: “Jane was being chased”. Jane is the focus of this sentence. But Jane isn’t actually doing anything. Instead, something is being done to her. This is passive voice. Now let’s turn the sentence around so Jane isn’t the focus. “The zombie chased Jane.” Now the sentence is active, and much more interesting. If you think a sentence might be passive, try adding the words ‘by a zombie’ to it. If it still makes sense, it’s written in the passive voice. Taking our first example: “Jane was being chased by a zombie.” See how that works?
Delete Filter Words: Filter words distance readers from the main character. A close point of view helps readers connect with your main character. But filter words, words like ‘thought’ and ‘felt’ break the connection between the reader and the main character. For example: “The street was dark and forbidding. Just the right place for a zombie attack, Jane thought.” Instantly we’re spectating, not inside Jane’s head, experiencing the spooky street. This is really easy to fix. In most cases, you can take out the filter words and the sentence will be fine.
Remove Some Adverbs: Adverbs are words that modify verbs and often end in the letters –ly. For example: “Jane ran quickly towards the door.” The word ‘quickly’ is an adverb. Often, these words aren’t needed and can be replaced by stronger verbs. For example: “Jane sprinted for the door.” Here the weak verb and adverb combination has been replaced by a much stronger verb. However, don’t be afraid to keep an adverb if it’s necessary. In this sentence for example, leaving the adverb would be totally fine: “The door swung gently on one hinge.”
Be Wary of the Phrase ‘Started To’: In many cases, the phrase ‘started to’ is useless. Take a look at this example: “Jane started to hammer on the door.” Here, the words ‘started to’ could be cut with no problem at all. Removing those words leaves you with: “Jane hammered on the door.” Now the sentence is shorter, more active, and much nicer to read. There are some places to use ‘started to’, like in this sentence: “Jane started to hammer on the door, but was interrupted by a zombie.” Here the phrase shows that the character began a task but was interrupted before they could complete it.
Look Out ‘Weasel Words’: Weasel words are words that creep into your writing over and over again, even when you don’t mean to use them. Does your character always quirk an eyebrow? Or sigh a lot? Maybe things always happen ‘suddenly’. These are all examples of common weasel words. Have a read through and see if any words turn up repeatedly. Switching out your weasel words keeps your writing fresh and interesting. Weasel words can be almost any word too, so if you want an example of other words to look out for, Stephanie Morrill@Go Teen Writers has an excellent list of her weasel words for you to look at.
These are my five tips. What would you add to this list? Are any of these tips new to you? And would you be interested in seeing a part two?
Also, as you can tell, I am back from my unannounced blogging break and very happy to be back to blogging once more, with a new burst of inspiration. Thank you for all being so patient while I took time away from the blog.