Start writing fiction: characters and stories
Start writing fiction: characters and stories

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Start writing fiction: characters and stories

3.2.3 Editing – big decisions

Editing is a process of decision making. Every writer will make different choices and have different reasons for their choices.

This is the process we followed to cut down the passage.

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NARRATOR
Just from a glance you can see this passage is too crowded with qualifying words and phrases – adjectives and adverbs. It is overwritten, with unnecessary information and is so cluttered that it loses sense.
Always be wary of qualifying verbs with adverbs (‘awfully’ here) – try to find stronger verbs in the first place. In this case the verb ‘groaned’ isn’t even needed because it adds nothing to the meaning.
Colours are sometimes interesting and can help give readers images but here they seem contradictory. But ‘heavy’ suggests it might hold more meaning than just literally describing the sky – so maybe it’s worth keeping.
The suggestion that the clouds were about to fall is an overstatement. And from here onwards the sentence loses its form, shape and meaning. A plain speaking phrase conveys all that’s needed, ‘it was rush hour’, all the other information is superfluous and doesn’t contribute anything.
The next bit of important information is about Hilary.
When you get to characters in scenes it is best to make them active and the subject of your sentences – not to use passive tenses. So, ‘was called’ is best changed, so that Hilary becomes more prominent as the active character.
When you get to characters in scenes it is best to make them active and the subject of your sentences – not to use passive tenses. So, ‘was called’ is best changed, so that Hilary becomes more prominent as the active character.
Finally, back to the first sentence to see what’s left from all the cutting– what was essential? And now the opportunity to rejig that sentence and use ‘heavy’, literally describing the sky but also getting it to work in a slightly portentous way. Something bad is about to happen.
And there we have the final edited version!
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