Amber Chen

United States

Writer, Violinist, Other Stuff

(he/him)

fourteen

Taiwanese

joined November 15, 2020

Message to Readers

Hello! Hello! Hello! Hope this helps some of you. :)

Stuff You Should Delete or Replace in Your Writing—Line Editing

February 19, 2021

FREE WRITING

15
I know a lot of teachers in elementary schools encourage y’all to use weak adverbs and fancy dialogue tags. . . . Heck no. If you wanna get better prose, there are some words you should probably get rid of or rewrite in your writing. 

What I’ma blab about today:
Adverbs
    One, Your Adverb Is Just a Filler Word
    Two, They Tell Instead of Show
Filler Words
    “Down” and “Up”
    “The Color”
    “Very” and “Really”
    “Just”
    “Start” and “Begin”
Filter Words
Fancy Dialogue Tags
Repetitive Words, Clichéd Lines, and Other Stuff
    Repetitive Sentence Structures
    Passive Voice

Adverbs
Okay, I know some of you are like, “B-but adverbs make your writing so much more colorful!” No, adverbs make your writing look dead as heck.

There are two scenarios.

One, Your Adverb Is Just a Filler Word
“I ran quickly.” Running—by definition—is quick, so the adverb is unnecessary.

Two, They Tell Instead of Show
“‘It’s all your fault!’ he said angrily.” Don’t tell me he’s angry. Show me he’s angry. It’s much better to say instead, “‘It’s all your fault!’ he said, his intense eyes glaring and his fists shaking.” OMG! Notice how there’s an actual description now rather than one weak word?

Note: The word “suddenly” makes things less sudden. Hit “backspace” now.

Filler Words
There are many types of filler words, an adverb being only one example.

Here are some more examples.

“Down” and “Up”
“He looks down at his phone.” Well, of course, he’s looking down. What? Is his phone on the ceiling?

“The Color”
“The car was the color red.” We all know red is a color.

“Very” and “Really”
Kill them all and replace them with stronger words.

“Just”
Just don’t do it.

“Start” and “Begin”
Don’t make your characters start to do something. Just make them do the thing.

Filter Words
“I heard . . .”

“I saw . . .”

“I thought . . .”

Those are all filter words. Filter words remind readers they’re reading instead of actually experiencing the story firsthand. They also—wait for it—tell instead of show!

“I hear a scream, and that alerts me something is near.” Or you can say, “A high-pitched voice stabs my eardrums, alerting me something is near.”

Fancy Dialogue Tags
“he exclaims”

“he stammers”

. . . “he ejaculates”

Again, these dialogue tags remind the readers they are reading instead of experiencing. The best dialogue tags are the basic “said,” “asked,” et cetera because they are invisible and let the actual quotes do the job.

Repetitive Words, Clichéd Lines, and Other Stuff
This is pretty self-explanatory. If you have a lot of repeated words in your writing, thesauruses are your friends.
 
If your manuscript contains, “I have a bad feeling about this,” and it isn’t a Star Wars fanfic . . . try again. (And even if it’s a Star Wars fanfic, you probably should still delete that because it has appeared in the movies way too many times.) 

Other things you should look out for when line editing your writing are repetitive sentence structures and passive voice. 

Repetitive Sentence Structures
Repetitive sentence structures are—surprise, surprise—sentences with repeated structures. If all of your sentences start with the same or similar words, it’s time to stop and think, “Is this . . . good?” It’s probably not, so get more creative and vary your structures!

Passive Voice
“I screamed and slapped the poor guy.”

“The poor guy was slapped by me after I screamed.”

The first sentence is active and gets straight to the point, while the second one is passive and kinda distracting. If you’re writing fiction, you should have little to none passive voice sentences in your writing.

If you haven’t already, following this checklist is going to make you a much better editor and have significantly better prose.
Hello! Just to clarify, copyediting is the editing of grammar—which is what the last thing is about—and line editing is here to make the lines flow better. That means that everything being line-edited is probably already grammatically correct but sounds amateurish. Hope y'all like this!

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  • February 19, 2021 - 6:06pm (Now Viewing)

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12 Comments
  • nolongeractive

    This is so good; it really made me smile...also, if you have time, I would love it if you would check out my new song 'the farm' - had to reupload it because people were commenting negative things even though it was about my grandmother who passed away, you will understand when you read it.


    7 months ago
  • Madelyn (Carolina Girl)

    As a tribute to my amazing followers I have started a series about my life. Please check it out.


    7 months ago
  • HeyThereRose

    This is so helpful!!! Really making me wish wtw had a save feature XD


    7 months ago
  • Avril

    wow thanks this is such a good resource!!


    7 months ago
  • AstroWriter

    you must have a big pet peeve about this xD i luv this and will definitely use you suggestions


    7 months ago
  • Starlitskies

    This is soooo helpful! Thank you so much! The article is well structured and the touch of humour makes it a delightful read! I'm bookmarking this rn!


    8 months ago
  • Rohan’s Defender (Semi-Active)

    Wow... I have to agree with mindfruit! I commend your Grammar! *I happen to be a bit of a Grammar buff* This is very helpful and you even made it interesting! Awesome!


    8 months ago
  • mindfruit (semi-active)

    Thanksss...you sir, are an English genius. this helped a lot, especially the show-instead-of-tell part. A lot of people say it, but they never give examples or explain what that difference exactly is. But you did, and I appreciate that.


    8 months ago
  • ~rain~

    Oh my gosh thank you... this helps a lot!!!!!!!!


    8 months ago
  • Paisley Blue

    oh. my. goodness.
    THIS IS WONDERFUL! Thank you so, SO much!!! I've known about a lot of this, but sometimes it's hard to know how to directly apply it when editing (especially the active/passive voice stuff). Thank you!!! Wow, definitely bookmarking this!!!


    8 months ago
  • Yellow Sweater

    Excellent advice I need to hear.


    8 months ago
  • Busssy.Beee

    YESS YESS YESSS!!!! SO SO SO SO SO SO SO HELPFULLLLL!!! THANK YOUUU!!!!!


    8 months ago