Banning Wordiness (or) Editing 101

Recently, I spent COUNTLESS hours editing two different novels. I ended many days with “crossed” eyes, my amblyopia pulling at my eye muscles. Often, I am chopping words from sentences and my professional editor in replacing them as fast as I remove them, especially the word “that.”

The suggestions below are ones, which were drilled into me when I was still working in journalism.

Words to Eliminate:

unpaid debt                                  free up

close down/up                             linger on

most/very/quite unique           convicted felon

past history                                   advanced planning/notice/warning

free gift                                           tuna fish

topple over                                    new innovation

Never add “together” to these words:

assemble, combine, bond, merge, link, splice, staple, mesh, huddle, weld 

Do not use these words together. Choose one or the other.

if and when                                  9 p.m. and tonight

hope and trust                            each and every

hopes and dreams/desires    first and foremost

true and accurate                     basic and fundamental

Are there other examples of which you can think? I’ll be back tomorrow for a few more examples. Feel free to add your “key phrases” to the comments below. I would love to hear them.


About Regina Jeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and historical romantic suspense.
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9 Responses to Banning Wordiness (or) Editing 101

  1. NancyS.Goodman says:

    Great post! I’m sure I’ve been guilty of many of these!

    • I am guilty also, Nancy. The idea is to find one’s mistakes, but I am likely to miss some because I become so caught up in the story line that my eye does not catch all the errors.

  2. Gerri Bowen says:

    Good one, Regina.

  3. I have three lists of words, one for wordy/sloppy/passive, one for filtering POV words, and one for gestures (after I caught characters signing 15 times on the same page). I use word to highlight each of the words so I can ferret them out. It takes three passes and hours for each chapter. But I end up with something so much cleaner when I’m doing. I’m just nuts in the process!

    Thanks for reminding me I”m not alone!

    • I have another post tomorrow on words which I focus. For example, I use “prior” because of the Regency period, and my editor changes it to “before” or “ago.” It’s a losing battle.

  4. Excellent post! I am engaged in the same process. I am addicted to “that”!

  5. I removed the word “that” because I always preached at my students to eliminate unnecessary words. My editor replaced the word, even added it where I never had the word.

  6. Sophia Rose says:

    This is great! I’m sharing it. I know I’ve gotten sloppy about writing since college and others probably have as well. Thanks!

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