You are finished with the manuscript you’ve been writing for awhile now. If everything went as planned, your first draft is done- hopefully with the least amount of writer’s blocks and hissy fits from your characters from being told what to do. Now that that’s all been established, it’s time to revise.
-sarcastic yay in the background-
The biggest thing for us writers is that now we have to compose to capture. We have to refine our writing to make it appealing for others to read. But if you’re anything like other writers out there, you might be stuck in first draft mode and don’t know how to approach this wee, unruly story that you have somehow managed to birth into being. It’s missing an extra pop but you don’t know where to go with it.
Well, have no fear! Momma Felicity is here!
I’ll first show you a mediocre sentence, then I’ll show you it’s better version. Then we’ll discuss what I changed to make it better and give it that pop! that it was missing.
#1. Keep the dialogue tags on the down low.
“I told you that you needed to take the garbage out last night,” Caty scowled at her husband, gesturing towards the front door.
That sentence was okay, but it wasn’t FANTASTIC. There wasn’t as much impact as there could have been. Let’s change it around a little.
Caty looked at her husband, scowling. “I told you that you needed to take the garbage out last night.”
Now that’s MUCH better. I can feel the impending doom coming for this husband. It’s more direct and brings you to the here and now rather than breaking the tensity with commas. I’m not saying to avoid dialogue tags altogether- but use them sparsely.
For instance, they’re good when you want to break up a character’s ramble.
“. . . So if we put the doohicky in the thingamabobber, it’ll make this whatchamacallit light up and illuminate the whole room,” Wilhelm grinned and waved the wrench happily at his friend. “Did you catch all of that?”
Darla smiled nervously, backing away from the mechanism. ” Yeah . . . more or less.”
However, if you find yourself writing a lot of dialogue tags, it might mean that your characters are blabbing a little too much. So just keep Telling V.S. Showing in the back of your mind as your cute little character word salads everywhere.
(Definition of Word Salad:”Confused or unintelligible mixture of seemingly random words and phrases.” -Wikipedia)
#2. Trim some of those “The’s” and “And’s.”
The sun glimmered brightly on the azure blue waves of the ocean. Foam bubbled to the top and rolling and churning wildly as they came closer to the shore. The waves spilled onto the pale peach sand where it finally came to a rest and receeded back towards the endless measure of waters.
That was a pretty nice mental image, right? We can make it even better if we edit it to where there are aren’t as many “The’s” and “And’s.”
Sun rays glimmered brightly off the azure blue waves of the ocean. Foam bubbled to the top, rolling and churning wildly as they came closer to shore; waves spilling onto pale peach sand where it finally came to rest, then receeded back towards the endless measure of waters.
Now I feel like I’m there! Cutting out filler words like “the” and “and” brings us closer to the situation rather than separating us from what’s happening. We aren’t the readers anymore, but rather we’re a part of the world and immersed in the surroundings.
As you can see, I didn’t completely cut out every “the” and “and”- those words are too important to completely leave out all together. They’re important for transitioning. If we didn’t use them at all, the sentence structure would be too jarring for us to enjoy fully.
Sun rays glimmered off azure blue waves of ocean. Foam bubbled to top, rolling, churning wildly as they came closer to shore; waves spilling onto pale peach sand where it finally came to rest, then receeded back towards endless measures of waters.
giggles evilly as I watch every english teacher cringe
And sadly, that’s all I have for you at the moment. I know, I know- 2 tips to make your story editing easier isn’t that much, and I apologize. I just can’t think of anything else at the moment.
So be sure to stay tuned for a part 2!
As always, thanks for staying to read my post!