Editing on Cerulean Bound has officially started! As I plow through 142k words, I’ve made a short list of things to keep in mind. You know, not anything overly specific (i.e. delete extraneous references to Grashk’s “flickering tri-forked tongue”), just things in general to be aware of while revising. As these are common writing problems that many other writers probably deal with, I thought I’d share my list here. Thus, without further ado:
Top 5 Things I’m Looking Out For Whilst Editing
- Less thinking, more doing! I like to put my characters’ thoughts in italics to give readers a snapshot into their minds. However, I have a tendency to rely too much on thoughts, and not enough on action. Even just having the character speak their thought aloud, or putting it in the narration, can punch up the scene.
- Combine description with action. Like many writers, I will sometimes get lazy with my descriptions and basically just write a list of characteristics–i.e., “the big, brown, beautiful bear.” But if I combine the description with action, it flows much more naturally–i.e. “The big bear strolls past me, its shaggy brown coat ruffling in the summer breeze.”
- Cut out adverbs. Now, to be clear, I like adverbs. I think a well-placed adverb can add a lot to a scene. But I’ve been told by reputable sources that I am overly fond of adverbs, to the point that one member of my critique group started listing off all the adverbs I used in one chapter and wouldn’t stop until I’d promised not to use them so much. So, chopping time!
- Avoid epithets. For anyone who doesn’t know, an epithet is a descriptor you’d put in place of a proper noun, i.e. instead of writing “Harry Potter”, you’d write “the Chosen One” or “the bespectacled Gryffindor” or “the green-eyed boy”. As with #3, I quite like epithets, but have been told I use them to the point of excess.
- Avoid filter words. I wrote a post about this a while back, but essentially a filter word is something like “felt” or “saw” — a word that puts a layer of separation between the reader and the story, i.e. writing “Bob’s heart beat faster in his chest” vs. “Bob felt his heart beat faster in his chest”. Both are fine sentences, but why add that extra layer of “Bob felt” when his heart could just beat without interruption? I like the occasional filter word, and I think sentences can read better with them included, but they’re often unnecessary and those are the ones I’m looking to cut out.
Thus, my list! Hopefully it will prove useful to someone. And now I’m off to resume my own editorial adventures. Huzzah!