Monday, February 25, 2008

How to use less red ink

That's Scoti, me, Jerry B. Jenkins, and Tiffany the last morning of the Writing for the Soul conference.
As the driving force behind the Christian Writers Guild, Jerry was the conference host. Scoti, Tiffany and I decided to provide a little humor and wear our "Don't make me get my Red Pen" sweatshirts. They got laughs--and nods of agreement from our fellow writers.

When people asked about our slogan--we call our critique group The Red Pen Society--I told them our goal is to help each other shine as writers. We aren't cruel with our red pens, but we will use them if a manuscript needs editing.

Jerry and Andy Scheer, the Guild's managing editor, offered a Thick-Skinned Critique workshop, where they did hands-on edits of writing submitted by conferees. Jerry and Andy also provided "Thick-skinned Presciptions for Writers." which are their suggestions to help you use less red ink when editing your manuscript. Here are a few tips:

  • Omit needless words.

  • Choose the normal word over the obtuse.

  • Usually delete the word that.

  • Avoid the words up and down--unless they are really needed. He rigged [up] the device. She sat [down] on the couch.

  • Avoid telling what's not happening. "He didn't respond." "She didn't say anything."

  • Avoid being an adjectival maniac (A.M.) Good writing is a thing of strong nouns and verbs, not adjectives.

  • Avoid hedging verbs: smiled slightly, almost laughed, frowned a bit.

  • Avoid subtle redundancies, like: "She nodded her head in agreement." The last four words could be deleted. OR "He clapped his hands." What else would he clap?

In my next post, I'll share some more suggestions to help you write better. Remember: Writing is rewriting. And rewriting is editing--over and over again.


Tiffany Stuart said...

Aren't we precious? What fun to see us--the three amigos.

Thanks for the pic today. I enjoyed my visit.

See you ladies Wednesday. I'll be wearing my sweatshirt!

NathanKP said...

You list some very good tips here. I'll keep them in mind as I write.

NathanKP - The Ink Weaver Collection - Writing Showcase Blog

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