Writing Tip — Editing

work-in-the-garden-2432111_1280Gardeners aren’t the only ones who weed on the job. Librarians do, too. Checking books for condition and amount of use is called weeding in the library world. When I was a librarian, I loved to weed, getting rid of books that were hardly used, making room for new books that would be more likely to meet customers’s tastes.

Although I don’t work in a library anymore, I am still weeding. I was reminded of this when I read this post on Almost and Author. Mr. Peterson lists common phrases that can be condensed into fewer words, sometimes just one. In my case, I use a word that often can be eliminated altogether.

That word is “that”. I didn’t realize I was using it too much until I hired a free-lance editor to review my novel. She couldn’t get through a paragraph without tripping over it at least one. The style now is to eliminate only those needed to make meaning clear.

When I first read a sentence without my pet “that”, it seemed odd. But the more I read, the more I got used to it and could see how, in most cases, they were unnecessary.

But when I write a first draft now, I still can’t cut out “that”. For my writing to feel natural, I am compelled to include the word.

So on a first draft, I allow myself to fling out as many “that’s” as I want. As I wrote in this post, the purpose of a first draft is to get words on paper or screen any old way you can. Then in the second or third draft, you can switch into editing mode and weed away.

Do you have particular writing quirks you need to eliminate?

 

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