Monday, 6 November 2017

Just So Stories - editing out those banned words


Having recently published Silent Night, my new collection of short stories (you can read my post here) and spent time coming up with ways to market it (Book Marketing for Dummies) I've embarked on a new project - or rather gone back to an old one.

Anyone remember the romantic mystery novel I was working on a while ago that was set in Greece? This novel has been on a long and eventful journey with me (it even got me an agent for a while) and I now have two completely different versions of it - one in a single viewpoint and one with a dual narrative. For ages, I've been itching to go back to the original dual-narrative version and add in some of the better parts of the second version but, with the new novel I've been writing taking up most of my time, I've not been able to.

Now that novel two has been submitted to agents, I've been able to go back to reworking my special first book and I'm pleased to say that it's almost finished. Version three is, in my opinion, the best yet and I'm super excited to soon have two novels to offer agents and publishers (or to publish myself, if I go down that route).

It was only on reading through the manuscript again that I picked up on the fact that I'd used the phrase for a moment rather frequently (on checking, it was 28 times!) I could hardly believe it. With this in mind, I turned to Facebook to ask what words other authors knew they overused. I'm happy that people were not shy in coming forward with the words they knew were for the chop.

This is the list I came up with using their answers (most common first). See how clever I was with the title of this post!

just (mentioned by the majority)
so
that
seems
then
now
really
quite
but
a little
had
very
as
little
all at once
kindly
well
cold
dark
blood (an interesting one!)
actually
eyes
not for the first time
up
down 

That's quite a list and I'm going to be busy checking out all these sneaky little words that creep in when our backs are turned... I may be gone some time!

Have you got any favourites you can add to the list?

In the meantime, I'll leave you with a picture my latest story in The People's Friend called, Next to Me.



22 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, John. Is 'definitely' one of your banned words? 😊

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  2. I'm aware that I use 'that' a lot (nearly put 'very' aware) and this list will be extremely useful when editing. Thank you.

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    1. 'That' is a common culprit, Med. I've just culled a load.

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  3. 'Some' is a word I overuse. I've no idea why as I dislike it. I'm now pretty good at spotting it and removing it from where it isn't needed, but can't seem to stop myself typing it to start with.

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    1. I'm certainly more aware now. I can't write 'for a moment' without cringing!

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  4. Great post, Wendy, and I wish you huge success with that Greek novel, however it gets published. I was given a list of words to look out for by an editor ages ago - keep forgetting to look at it! I think I've got a grip on 'just' to some extent but definitely had a problem with 'some' which I've been trying to delete as much as possible now. I'm sure I have others but can't think of them at the moment.

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    1. I don't think I overuse 'some' but a check might tell me something different!

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  5. I eliminated all the 'Well's in dialogue. People do say it, but in a book it's boring and unnecessary. Also got rid of actually and rather.

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    Replies
    1. That's definitely one of mine, Lindsay.

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  6. I have a similar list of 'weasle' words to check for and banish at the end of a draft. And now I'm going to have to search 'For a moment' as I know I use that a lot!

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  7. Well done on finishing that rewrite, Wendy, and very good luck with both novels!

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  8. All the major ones have been mentioned, but I always overuse words like 'brilliant' and 'excellent' and so need some fresh words of praise!

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    Replies
    1. I must take a look at these, Alex but I don’t think they’re one’s I use much.

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  9. Guilty, though it made me chuckle that you have 'little' three times on your list and 'well' twice... 'Get', 'soon' and 'actually' are on my list.xx

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  10. What a great list. I shall read my work carefully with this in mind. I have been told that when I'm teaching I say 'just' a lot: as in, 'Just stand tall in Tadasana.' Oops.

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  11. Good luck with your novels, Wendy X

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