Editing Like a Badass: Do You Really Need All These Words?

Here comes another post about some things you should check out when you are in a full editing session.

Do you think you need all those words in your manuscript? Well, you don’t.

These words will burden your writing but don’t add anything of interest to it.

Start to

Helena ducked under the blade and tears started to glide down her cheeks.
Helena ducked under the blade, tears gliding down her cheeks.

Which one is more powerful in a sentence? Yeah, the second one.

The character didn’t start to run towards the enemy. He ran towards it his sword unleashed.

Show the action without any useless words.

That

Okay, this one is tricky. Sometimes it is needed but not always. And whenever it is possible you should drop it

Sarah knew that he would kill her.

Do you need that that? No!

Sarah knew he would kill her.

And don’t forget there is no need in the coma before that, only before which.

In order to

Let’s say Steven needed to get the talisman in order to complete the ritual.

But you are putting more words before the real action. And while we are at it, let’s drop the to get too.

Steven needed the talisman to complete the ritual.

Same meaning, fewer words.

Very

First, it is not needed and cumbers your writing. Second, if you want to infuse more meaning into your sentence, replace it with a more powerful adjective.

Very funny? Use hilarious.
Very scared? Petrified.
Very skinny? Skeletal.
Very wet? Soaked.

Check 147 Words to Use Instead of “Very” for an extensive list.

Really

It is used either as very, so really mean would be cruel. Or as a redundant word in a sentence.

She really wanted to shoot him.

And you don’t need it there. So drop it.

She wanted to shoot him.

And last but not least, the redundancies

You don’t need the exact same thing said twice in the sentence.

Have you noticed it? The redundancy in the previous sentence? The exact same thing

Here are some other examples:
Each and every time
Fall down
Climb up
Gather together

Check Common Redundancies in the English Language to see an exhaustive list.

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3 Replies to “Editing Like a Badass: Do You Really Need All These Words?”

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