Self-editing… ah, the bane of my existence. Why do I love working on other people’s writing and cringe when it comes to my own? I have no idea. No, that’s not entirely true – maybe it’s the horrors found within my writing that I don’t want to face. Passive sentence structure! Telling! Misplaced modifiers!
To help combat my penchant for putting off edits, this week I’m going to post on some particular things to look out for when self-editing. And a note: These are copyediting things to look out for, not content… I might look at content later in the month.
Here we go…
Beginning vs. Doing
In most cases, when your character begins something, what you mean is that he’s actually doing it.
Example: “He began running toward the store.”
As soon as he starts running, he’s already doing the action. Beginning becomes doing immediately!
Change to: “He ran toward the store.”
This is more active, clearer, and keeps up the story’s pace.
Of course there will be exceptions – there are times when beginning something is the logical description – but in the majority of cases, beginning becomes doing the moment it starts.
Get out that red pen (or, uh… your track changes option) and look for all instances of:
- starts, started, starting
- begins, began, beginning
- commences (*cringe*)
And with that… begin editing! Er, I mean… edit!
Is this a particular habit for any of you? I’ve corrected at least two instances in the last five pages of the MS I’m working on…