When I started this blog I said that it would include my writing journey, which I have done to some extent. However, I haven’t shared one of my handicaps as a writer. I love writing, but I also like killing. Yep. I bring words to life and then I take them out back and shoot them. This we call fun. In general this is a good quality for a writer to have, but I can get carried away.
I start out with a good paragraph or sentence that’s logical but a bit wordy. I remove the wordiness, but I edit the sense out of it too. If you understand this, raise your hand. Maybe we can start a support group.
Here are a few of the ways I can go overboard.I sometimes refer to this as over-editing.
1. Trying too hard not to reuse words. In writing a first draft, do you tend to overuse the same words while getting your thoughts on the page? I do. It’s good to work on that in editing, but don’t go too far. If you use “table” in a sentence, you don’t have to say “wood surface” three sentences later. Look for excessive use of non-descriptive common words like thing, task, or work. Use specific words that will lend clarity or rewrite whole sentences if necessary.
2. Removing needed words. I occasionally edit out important words, which leaves the sentence unclear.
Such as: I discovered people were willing to help when I lost my wallet.
I discovered that people were willing to help me search when I lost my wallet.
(I didn’t discover the people. The people also didn’t help me lose the wallet.)
My notes helped me more than my classmate. Two interpretations are possible.
My notes helped me more than my classmate did.
My notes helped me more than they helped my classmate.
Additional words are need for clarification.
3. Stringing too many sentences or ideas together. Then there is my love of the semicolon; I try to weave too many words together. Stop. Think first. Start a new thought. Shorter sentences do work. They break up longer ones giving the reader a chance to breathe.
4. Replacing words with pronouns. In the quest for shorter sentences, occasionally I’ll replace “First National Holdings and Trust” with a pronoun. Often when I look back it is not clear what the pronoun refers too. If it’s not clear what it refers back to, spell it out rather than using it (the pronoun).
So, you now know a few of the items that I struggle with when I switch hats from writer to editor. Fortunately, I have another wonderful editor who is also my best friend and wife. She loves words as much as I do. If I shoot at too many words, she nurses them back to health and adds them back in.
Can you relate to any of these?
What do you wrestle with?