Editing II

Comments: 5

(What do Mormons Believe:
We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.
Second Article of Faith
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)

Some fellow writers suggested a few more words to avoid. I'm not sure I agree with all of them, but here are what they suggested:

  • eyes
  • actually
  • just
  • really
  • smiled
  • that
  • wonder
  • believe
  • imagine
  • thought
  • dream
  • seem
  • went
  • so
  • only
  • well
  • like
  • and
  • but
  • then
  • laughed
  • said???
  • had
  • very
  • even
  • some
  • get
  • got
  • started
  • begin
  • began
  • about
  • still
  • down
  • up
  • most "-ing" words
I can see how most of these words can be mis-used, even over-used, but a lot of these are, I believe, essential and cannot be eliminated completely. The trick is to search for these words and see whether the prose would be stronger without them, or by reworking the phrase or sentence containing these words.

About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Thursday, December 06, 2007

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  1. Hey you! How's life? The editing is still coming to life, but on the horizon I think. You are so right to get to this subject. I already know that editors do not do this for you, so people who think they do, are wrong. You should have all this stuff covered before you submit. I have heard my editing staff only allows a few instances of gerund-overuse, before they hand the book back to you and say fix it. Good to chat at you. Hope you are well!

    Kim Smith-author of Avenging Angel, a Shannon Wallace Mystery coming soon from Enspiren Press

  2. Gerund-overuse? Them's big words. I know big words. Electricity, refrigerator, elephant. Them's big words too, you know!


    Thank you for your response. I hope you'll explain what that means, however. I almost flunked 12th-grade English. I mean, so what's a gerund? I've heard of it, but have never gotten a good explanation, at least not one that would stick with me.

    Thanks Kim.

    I'm glad to hear your book is going well. Hang in there. You'll eventually be a famous author.

  3. I agree with you, Paul -- you can't do away with these words completely. There are some that you can do without, for instance, "really." You can make your other words strong enough that you don't need it. Instead of saying "It was really big," you can say, "It was enormous." But a lot of these you can't do without. Repetition is the main thing to watch out for.

  4. Interesting points here. Kim brings out the "in-house" guides: different editors have quirks they don't like and do like. Gerunds are verbs turned into nouns, usually by adding "ing." Here's a pretty good looking page for studying them: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/627/01/

    Anything overused is obtrusive to reading, but to pick a selection of words never to sue is like trying to write a formula for writing a story, imo. I'm sure there are good reasons never to use all words at some point or another. (Why do I always go to extremes?)

    Suggest looking at a popular book and seeing how it reads, seeing how many of the "mistakes" you've learned about are acceptable means of communications, depending on any number of rules. Look at modern versus older. Be prepared to be shocked, however.

  5. You know, this takes me back to a comment I left on another forum discussion board, that being something to the effect that it really doesn't matter so much how well someone follows the "rules" of writing as long as they have a gripping story to tell. I've seen many, and I do mean many, best selling authors who can't write. But their stories are exciting and fun to read, so they get published and promoted to best-selling status.

    Why is that? Because the stories are exciting and fun to read. Period.