Here I am, knee deep in editing chapter one of my novel. With my “teacher pen” in hand, inner critic released to run amok on the pages I have ripped apart my own work. Editing is hard. It takes time and can make you doubt your skills as a writer. I am pretty ruthless when it comes to editing because I know it is important. I understand that the first draft is usually garbage that needs tightening to better the experience for my readers. Let’s face it, everything we do if for our readers.
Over the next few days, I will share some things I have gleaned in hours of reading and classes taken on the subject of Self-Editing. Let’s begin with weak adjectives.
Weak adjectives are really bad for your story.
The weakness comes from what proceeds the adjective. If you spot a “really” or a “very” before an adjective, reconsider your word choice. Removing these words from your writing and find that your word choice is stronger and your story better. Let’s get right to it:
Example: Weak adjectives are really bad for your story.
Instead: Weak adjectives are killing your story. (This was my original heading but I thought it would make a stellar (really good) example.)
Example: The woman was really tired.
Instead Try: The woman was exhausted.
Example: His dog was very dirty and smelled of fish.
Instead: His filthy dog smelled of rotting fish.
Think of the words “really” and “very” as a flag, big, bright and swaying on the page to get your attention. When you spot them, you may need to search for a new stronger adjective. Word choice is vital for writers because readers are easily bored. Using weak adjectives will put them to sleep much quicker than counting sheep or zzzzquil.
When a reader spots these lazy adjectives they will grow weary quickly. That is the last thing we as writers want! Do your best to spot those little devils and eliminate them from your piece.
No one ever said that writing is easy, it’s not. Luckily, I believe in you. I know you can do it if you try really hard, (or should I say, I know you can do it if you labor unmercifully).