Friday, December 13, 2013
The craft of rewriting-Technical Flaws-Vocabulary-Other Weak Forms to Look for.
By OFW chief editor:
Carlos J Cortes And Renée Miller
Published: April 10, 2013
“Had been” and “could,” in particular with any verb ending in “ing” at close quarters, should be inspected and perhaps rewritten to show. These constructions lead to telling.
Lucy had been crying all day.
Better: Lucy cried all day.
Mel could hear music.
Better: Mel heard music.
Traveling down the road, she saw a man approach.
Better: A man approached.
Walking toward her, Michael could see that she’d been crying.
Better: As he approached, she wiped red-rimmed eyes.
Other weak forms we should watch for when rewriting include “after,” “all,” “and,” “another,” “before,” “went,” “but,” “down,” “however,” “just,” “only,” “that,” “up,” and “with.”
Writers must also search for overuse of the verb “was” and its variations and rewrite to remove it. For example:
He was sitting on the porch while Celia was sleeping on the couch inside.
We want to create a sense of immediate action in our writing, so we need to change “was sitting” and “was sleeping” to an active verb form.
He sat on the porch while Celia slept on the couch inside.
In rewriting this sentence, we’ve eliminated unnecessary words. Weak forms tend to add an extra word to our sentences, which we don’t want. Extra words can add up, slowing down the pace and stealing space for more important words like those used to develop plot, scenes, and characters. If we expand our vocabulary beyond vague descriptors and master the use of precise nouns and verbs, we’ll avoid using empty adjectives and other intrusive modifiers.
Renee Miller & Carlos Cortes
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