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Some writing advice...

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Some writing advice...

Post by parthianbow » Mon October 7th, 2013, 1:37 pm

I often get asked for advice about writing. When I have time, which isn’t often, I try to give it. At times like today, when I’m tracking down the last errors that I can find before submitting my manuscript to my editor, I remember things that can be of use to aspiring scribes.

Word repetition is something that creeps into one’s writing, like it or no. Some writers take the time when they’ve done to seek these out and remove them, but more do not. In my mind, many good reads can be ruined by such repetition. It’s fair enough when a word or phrase is repeated for emphasis, and it’s natural that the writer’s tired eye will miss others. It’s incredible how, after a dozen edits, two instances of say, ‘almost’, or ‘just’ can pop up beside each other.

Thankfully, vast improvements can be made by making the effort to excise as many as possible. If one has a list to use on the entire manuscript, things are made easier.

Here then, is my hit list. Be warned: trawling through a novel of 140,000 words for all of these will take you 8 hours or more. But it’s worth it!
though/ although
of course
at once
at last
now (tip: to avoid having to look at all instances of ‘know’, search for ‘ now’)
And the killer - all words that end in ‘-ly’

Curse me as you do it! :D Ben
Ben Kane
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Spartacus - UK release 19 Jan. 2012. US release June 2012.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
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Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Mon October 7th, 2013, 3:33 pm

excellent advice, Ben! My editor has a program that spots 'echo' words (used within 5 lines of each other) which leaves out common articles but catches the rest. I don't know what it is -- for all I know, she wrote it herself. But she dings me on every repetition.

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Post by Divia » Fri October 11th, 2013, 10:40 pm

I am the victim of the ly words :( I try not to, but I do....
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Post by DianeL » Sat October 12th, 2013, 1:05 am

I have to be honest, the pat advice that adverbs are anathema irritates me. My editing tends to be far more organic and specific; though the result does include excision of repetition and often words like these, if the job can be done with a simple word search it seems like the whole job can't be getting done. Then again, I'm no Ben Kane, so perhaps shutting up is in order ... :)
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John Sliz
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Post by John Sliz » Fri November 22nd, 2013, 10:34 pm

Interesting exercise. I like the term `echo words'.

Btw: I hope that I didn't repeat any words.

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