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Author Topic: Self Editing Tip Sheet  (Read 5725 times)

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Self Editing Tip Sheet
« on: October 03, 2006, 04:30:25 PM »

 Monday, November 05, 2001 12:43 PM

With the last package of edits received from my WD class I received a two page "TIP SHEET FOR SELF-EDITING" that I thought I'd share. It will be a bit shorter here as the examples are mostly going to be on the same line.

DOWN: If the verb implies down, "down" is unnecessary.
She sat down in the chair --- She sat in the chair.

UP: If the verb implies up, "up" is unnecessary.
He stood up. --- He stood.

OUT: If the verb implies out, "out" is unnecessary.
The cloth was spread out over the table. --- The cloth was spread over the table.

THEN: If an action follows, "then" is implied.
He aimed the gun then fired. --- He aimed the gun and fired.

He raised an arm and began to scrub viciously at his skin. --- He raised an arm and scrubbed viciously at his skin.
he lifted the pen and started to write. --- He lifted the pen and wrote.

FELT/FEEL: Weak words can often be replaced to create a clearer image.
The chill of the night had little to do with the cold she felt. --- The chill of the night had little to do with the cold swirling inside her.

OF THE: Sometimes "of the" is not needed.
Many of the cattle were branded. --- Many cattle were branded.

BACK: Often a given if the subject of the sentence is doing one thing and then does another.
(Also note in the example, down unneeded.)
Jessie shook her head as she gazed back down at the child. --- Jessie shook her head as she gazed at the child.

BACK/RETURNED: Sometimes "returned" can signal going back to a previous action.
He turned his attention back to the raging storm. --- He returned his attention to the raging storm.

HAD BEEN: Passive voice. Often changing to active voice makes for a stronger sentence.
Harrison contemplated various methods of torture that had been developed by his ancestors. --- Harrison contemplated various method of torture developed by his ancestors.

SUDDENLY: Seldom needed. If it's the next action, writing it as such often eliminates the need for the word.
Suddenly the bull lurched forward. --- The bull lurched forward.

BE/ING: Sometimes makes for longer, weaker sentences.
I suppose I should be thanking you. --- I suppose I should thank you.

COULD: Determine if the sentence conveys the information without it.
He could see her walking toward him. --- He saw her walking toward him.

WOULD: Determine which sentence is stronger and if "would" is needed. Sometimes it is.
Occasionally, he would catch her watching him.
Occasionally, he catch her watching him.
Occasionally, he caught her watching him.

THERE: Generally weak and should be removed when possible.
If there were men that close- --- If men are that close-

SEEMED: Use only when you want to create an image of doubt.
Harry's presence seemed to dominate the camp.
Harry's presence dominated the camp.

WAS: Signals the possibility of passive voice.
His only fear was- --- He feared-

INSTEAD: Often unnecessary. It's given that he didn't land on the chair if he landed on the floor.
He'd landed on the floor instead of the chair. --- He'd landed on the floor.

TO THE: Often causes wordiness.
The door to the office- --- The office door-

TO BE: Another example of wordiness.
He needs to be scrubbing. --- He needs to scrub.

THAT: A word we all overuse, sometimes it's necessary, often it's not. Always try the sentence without and see if it means the same.

JUST: Another word we overuse. Try some synonyms like merely, only.

Bob Mueller
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