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My editor had me working on what she calls “pre-editing.” This included removing commonly overused words and too many uses of a character’s name. The shocking part was finding out how many times I overused certain words. (Especially since I thought I’d already done this process.) Some words could be cut completely. Others I had to find another word or rephrase the sentence.
But what I especially like about the search method of editing, is that I see a small section on its own and can analyze what I wrote without being hung up on the story as a whole. Can I say this sentence better another way? If so, great. Do I need the sentence? Will the meaning of the paragraph be changed if I remove the sentence? Often the answer is no. That means I’ve gotten rid of some clutter in my story. Either way—rewritten or cut, it’s a win.
Because of this close up view of sections, I discovered an awkward writing pattern. I was having my character saying something “to” another as in “I said to Mark.” If they are the only two people in the room, who else could she say it to? “To Mark” and the like got cut quite often.
Have I used the best words to tell the story now? It’s hard for me to judge. My story is certainly better because of this editing step. But good enough? Probably not. I’m sure my editor will have more work for me to do. I’m not discouraged though—I already see the book improving because of her advice.
SM Ford writes inspirational fiction for adults, although teens may find the stories of interest, too. She also loves assisting other writers on their journeys.