"Writing is 1 percent inspiration, and 99 percent elimination."—Louise Brooks
The first and last thing I self-edit on a manuscript includes finding and eliminating passive and overused verbs. Like on a search and destroy mission, I use the Find & Replace function to highlight passive and overused verbs.
Although grammar check won’t point out every passive verb or repeated word, turn on grammar check to point out passive sentences. Here’s how to turn it on: Tools>;Spellcheck>;Options>;Check grammar with spelling.
To Highlight all passive verbs in yellow, on the Edit menu, click Find. In the Find and Replace box, enter the passive verb or empty or repeated word. Then click on the Replace box. Type in same verb. Select Highlight. Then Find All.
Eliminate most passive verbs and insert active verbs.
Highlight passive verbs and most used verbs in yellow.
- am, being, to be
- is, is being, are, are being
- was, were, was being, were being, will be, will have been,
- has, have, had, having, has to, has been, have been, had been, would have been
- do, does, did, doing
- get, got, getting, gotten
- use, uses, used, using
- go, went, gone, going
- could, would
To make the sentence active, flip the sentence.
- P: Veils are worn by brides.
- A: Brides wear veils.
- P: My editing is an improvement on Sara’s manuscript.
- A: My editing improves Sara’s manuscript.
- P: The Marriott has wedding receptions.
- A: The Marriott hosts wedding receptions.
Find and replace the top 25 most used words.
According to the billion-word Oxford English Corpus, the most frequently used verbs that express basic concepts are: be, have, do, say, get, make, go, know, take, see, come, think, look, want, give, use, find, tell, ask, work, seem, feel, try, leave, call.
Save time using an online thesaurus.
Enter the verb into the search field at thesaurus.com
Peruse the list of synonyms. What are the advantages of finding synonyms online? Beside listing the part of speech, synonyms and antonyms, thesaurus.com provides:
- Definitions: Make sure you find the correct word that communicates your thought.
- Notes: Helps you eliminate those pesky common usage errors. For example: affect/effect: as a noun, affect means 'a feeling or emotion,' whereas effect means 'the result or consequence of some action or process'; as a verb, to affect means 'to exert an influence upon,' and implies the action of a stimulus that can produce a response or reaction, whereas to effect means 'to bring about as a result' effect is a noun referring to a thing, but if you mean an action, that is affect; if you want the verb meaning 'achieve, bring about,' that is effect
- Synonyms: The synonym list also links synonyms to other synonyms. No need to flip pages in a book, one click lets you explore and find the precise word to best fit.