Monthly Archives: July 2016

Revisions: Flow Killers – Filler Words and Repetition

Thesaurus cartoon

Are you struggling with revisions, not understanding what needs expanding, and what needs cutting?

Let’s start with filler and repetitive words.

Some say you need to cut out filler words, adverbs, all passive voice, and cut down on descriptions…well…yes and no. It all depends on your voice, what your story line might dictate and frankly, it depends on what your characters have to say.

Yes, your characters. Don’t kid yourself that your characters don’t have complete control over everything you do when writing their story.

Filler words such as that, just, very, much, really, completely, totally, somehow, somewhat, basically, literally, absolutely, rather, up/down (as in stood up or sat down),  so (as in so fast), both (as in we both stood), and own (as in she gazed at her own reflection) can be used but it all depends on your voice. As with any word, phrase or descriptive adjective, too much of anything can become less than a good thing. I don’t advise cutting all filler words but instead read the line through and think of a tighter, more exact way of saying it. Yes—exact! Only you know what you want to say so push the limit until you are saying exactly what you wish to say.

For example, in the lines I used to explore expansion and layering: (see Part One post)

Angry and feeling as though if he didn’t leave immediately, he was going to hit someone, John stalked to the door, threw it open, and despite the pouring rain, marched into the street.

Rather than using the filler word though, I tightened the line down by removing the word and using a comma after Angry:

Angry, and feeling as if he didn’t leave right away he was going to hit someone, John stalked to the door, threw it open so wide driving rain sprayed him and the foyer floor. He marched into street without looking back. He knew he’d never return.

Tighter, and more expressive, it shows the event more than tells it—our main goal as writers of fiction.

If you find yourself using one particular filler word a lot, or any word/phrase for that matter, it might be time to rethink the use of the word. Whereas the use of a word such as that or like is common in everyday language and so is fine for your characters to use, they can begin to act like roadblocks to a reader’s attention. I’m not saying these words can’t be used…on the contrary, sometimes it just can’t be said another way without changing your voice but when certain words occur in every sentence, it’s time to rethink your vocabulary. The use of a good thesaurus or online thesaurus can be invaluable.

Repetition can be a flow killer. It can be anything from using the same word to describe a movement, a body part, or even an emotion…remember to shake things up…keep it fresh.

Remember, it’s all about flow. Keeping the action moving is important, but if the flow is awkward and the reader’s eye has to stumble over rocks in the form of repetitive words then eventually the reader is going to quit. Good writing makes reading effortless, and you a success.

When you’re ready for editing, talk to me about how I can assist you in finding that success.

Come back next time to continue learning how to turn your manuscript into something worth reading.

Happy Writing Everyone!

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Client Release Day Joy for Susan Fisher-Davis for SAM, a Men of Clifton, Montana novel with #excerpt

SAM_digital front cover final_2 600 x 876

SAM

A Men of Clifton, Montana novel #7

by Susan Fisher-Davis

 available now at Amazon

An honest man wants an honest woman to love. But when a lie comes between them, can their love be saved?

Everyone tells Sheriff Sam Garrett to find a good woman and settle down. When he sets his sights on Clifton’s veterinarian, he fears she despises him yet he’s desired her from the first moment they met. She is quite possibly the only woman in town who isn’t attracted to him which might be why he wants her even more.

Tessa McGuire has a secret and she fears anyone learning it, especially Sam who she can’t seem to resist even though she knows she should. After arresting her for outstanding warrants, desire fuels their mutual needs to the point where neither can resist its pull. Once they start seeing each other, she’s happier than she’s ever been but knows she should tell him the truth.

Tessa wants Sam to be happy, but wanting him for her own is dangerous because her secret could change everything… When her secret comes out, Tessa’s life and hopes fall apart, possibly putting everyone around her in danger. What once was a hopeful relationship with Sam comes to a heartbreaking end. Now can she win him back and save what they had?

Excerpt from SAM:

Tessa wiped the tears from her face as she drove back to town from Ryder’s place.

What kind of veterinarian are you? You’re not supposed to cry over the loss of an animal.

Continue reading

Revisions: Turning Your Manuscript Draft Into Something Worth Reading

I am a writer

If writing was easy, everyone would do it and do it well.

As I’ve mentioned, a draft is NOT, and NEVER will be ready for anyone other than the author to see…I wouldn’t even venture a friend…but certainly not an editor, and not a reader. So how do you take that draft and get it to a level where an editor at a publishing company might accept it for publication or a hired editor might assist you in turning it into something a reader will just eat up?

Revisions. Revisions. And more revisions.

When you start revising your manuscript, you’ll begin fleshing out characters – making them three-dimensional, and more alive – developing action as well as setting, and emotion. It’s about stepping into your characters’ shoes and living the story with them. It’s about building the life and depth of the story line through layers of words like a bricklayer builds a wall.

  • An example, let’s say your draft gives you:
  • John strode to the door, opened it, and walked out on the street.

That sentence is fine. It’s grammatically correct…it shows the action, but what does it really present to the reader? It says he opened the door and went out to the street. Simple and to the point, but that’s a draft.

Revision one:

  • Angry, John stalked to the door, opened it, and walked out onto the street.

Now we know he was angry, by both stating it and making it evident in the way he walked to the door.

Revision two:

  • Angry and feeling as though if he didn’t leave immediately, he was going to hit someone, John stalked to the door, threw it open, and despite the pouring rain, marched into the street.

Now we know just how angry he was as well as creating atmosphere because now we know it was raining outside but it’s not very smooth so let’s take a step further.

Revision three:

  • Angry, and feeling as if he didn’t leave right away he was going to hit someone, John stalked to the door, threw it open so wide driving rain sprayed him and the foyer floor. He marched into street without looking back. He knew he’d never return.

By layering emotion, setting, action, and expanding that simple line, you can create a scene and that’s what we, as editors and readers, want to see in a story. Through revisions, you can layer into it so much more without writing eons of words.

If you’re struggling with revisions, not understanding what needs expanding or what needs cutting, come back next time and I’ll start breaking things down with you. Remember…when you think you’re really ready to show it to the world, having a professional editor like me look at it can only make it shine brighter.

Let’s find success for you – together.

Happy Writing Everyone!

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