Mark Twain said, "If you catch an adjective, kill it!"
STEIN ON WRITING: A Book Review
I never even heard of the guy until one day someone on Facebook mentioned Stein's revision techniques. I happen to be in the process of such endeavors so I decided to look him up. I am glad I did. I sampled a few chapters specifically related to editing and revisions. Here is what I got from my quick read through---
Characters need to be well-rounded and have a credible conflict.
Evaluate the scenes in each chapter and book. Which are weakest. Which are strongest. Delete the weakest scenes entirely. (I add: unless you need the scene, then strengthen it.)
List the 3 actions that are crucial to the story. Consider what motivations caused those actions. Remove motivations that are too far-fetched or are just plain poor action starters. Ensure the motivations fit the character.
Look at the first page of your story. Imagine your favorite author wrote it. Now read it. Does it make you want to read on? If not, improve your hook.
The Goal of the first paragraph is:
1) To create curiosity about the character or a relationship.
2) To introduce a setting.
3) To lend resonance to the story.
General Revisions: Read through looking for anything that takes you out of the story. Make notes about things that don’t make sense or need more (or less) detail.
Reduce or delete narration that is not about the current scene.
Cut everything that feels unnecessary. Check the speed or flow of the storytelling.
Remove words such as poor, very, quite, really, well, so. And reduce was, had, and . . . essentially any word that you know you use too often.
Remove excessive adverbs and adjectives. When you have used two or more to describe something, evaluate which is strongest and delete the weaker one(s).
Rearrange dialog tags from time to time. Place them in front when it is unclear who is speaking.
Remove cliché’s, unless spoken and meant to be obvious. Otherwise, learn to create your own similes, metaphors, and sayings.
Rework sentences for clarity.
Avoid purple prose. (What? But I love purple!)
Ensure you have a visual on every page.
Try to have more he said/she said over…muttered, screamed, deflected, wailed, etc. (I personally do not subscribe to having only he said/she said tags.)
Lastly, does the ending offer satisfaction?
And I got all of this from only three chapters! I will definitely return to glean something from the balance of his book. I highly recommend checking out Stein on Writing before your next editing session.
We hear it often enough, but have you really ingrained it into practice? Here is a site with a free worksheet aimed at middle schoolers...but we can learn just as well as they can,right?
". . .the sentence is not the basic skill of writing.
The idea is." – John Warner
I like that. John Warner goes on to say “When we have an idea worth expressing, the desire to share it provides the necessary intrinsic motivation to find the language to do so.” (Find his full blog here - https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/just-visiting/true-basics-writing )
Of course, a student or writer certainly needs to know proper spelling, and grammar rules eventually, but the pure joy of expression really does allow people to say what they want to say. If they do not feel like anyone is “getting” them then their need to share will inspire them to learn more words that will say what they mean.
But sometimes automatic writing, or as I call it “nonwriting,” has an emotion or feeling to it that cannot be created with careful craftsmanship.
Here is a sample of writing to show what I mean:
Salivate the wicksleuthing moon, its carnal carnivals from my morsel bandage, an immediate curfew's pervade (incite)--to slurp dry, the ballerina asphault of criminalised rain. Ive digested so many geneticallymodified stupidity Im surprised my third eyes nipples arent erect. Can you see them through this lace? Scallop the eyes of lucifer's lettuce, and his garden ricorso saith: There exists in every one who reads this, fourteen personalities: conscience is a variety-layered forest; a skyscraper that had too much to snort, and fell over in humankind blackoutism. (Jacob aka armpitnapkin)
Perhaps this displays poor spelling, very little punctuation, and meaning that is hard to grasp. BUT it evokes a nebulous emotion that if one has patience and sits with it after having consumed it whole….then, then it imparts messages to the soul. I have expressed jealousy for writers who can do this. I have attempted poetry to match this style, and I fail miserably.
Nevertheless, we should all let loose and give automatic writing a chance to free us from careful thought. You never know what inspiration you might find expressed by your inner self.
So please, just write and allow the thinking to simply flow out.
I really like AutoCrit! check out this online editing tool fiction writers have been using to get published.https://oa127.isrefer.com/go/Insider/mkaribarr
As a disclaimer let me say I do get a small kickback when a reader makes a purchase off any links on the site.
But I really do use AutoCrit. You can test if for yourself for free. I usually use the combination report. I have found that most of my writing is passive --which I like-- but nevertheless using the tool allows me to see that I have far too many was-es and hads in my work. It even tells me how many to remove!
I also like grammarly.com they didn't think I was good enough to allow me to sponsor them, but I won't hold that against them. Grammarly is great because it will offer advise on commas and word choice. It can also check for plagiarized work, Which has come in handy in the past when a writer tried to pass off something they wanted me to read as theirs and it was in fact stolen from another online writer.