There are a few basic polishing tools one should use while re-writing. Why rewriting? Well, for one, while you’re writing your first draft you should just be concentrating on getting your story out. Donning the editor’s hat comes later. If you try to do both simultaneously, you’ll get nowhere.
And it is here that your computer, either the basic word-processing software or your rewriting software, can be of immense help. Here’s what I do.
After I’ve written my story, rewritten it to take care of the language and loopholes, I rewrite it once more to polish it.
- 1. The first thing I do is look for places where I have begun two consecutive sentences or two consecutive paragraphs the same way. Usually this happens with the word ‘then’ or ‘next’.
- 2. I do a find and search thing for exclamation marks. If there are many exclamation marks in any one particular sentence, I try to do away with all but one.
For instance, if I’ve written: Aha! So my investment really paid off! I knew it!, I retain the one after Aha and remove the others. In the beginning I felt that by using exclamation marks I was being emphatic where i should have been emphatic. Wrong. I was being distracting.
- 3 Next I use the search and find tool to spot adjectives and adverbs ending with ‘ly’ and see if I can do away with the ‘ly.’ If my search throws up phrase like there was this hugely popular, I remove hugely. Hey, popular is popular. And then if I’ve written, “I don’t need to resort to that!” she replied indignantly, I replace it with, She looked indignant. “I don’t need to resort to that!” she said. In this instance you can even do away with she said.
This is not always possible. For instance, if I’ve written, “Something about some distant cousin,” she said absently, I can’t very well write She looked absent. “Something about some distant cousin,” she said, can I? However, what I could use is, she looked like she was not altogether there or she looked distracted.
The upshot is that, don’t try too hard. Write whatever comes easily, else it will look forced.
More on this tomorrow.