Stephen King, one of America’s most prolific and best selling authors, is more famous for his bone chilling horror stories than as a teacher of writing. However, his book, On Writing, is full of inspiration for writers of any genre. In it, King not only tells the story of how he started writing, the sacrifices and rewards of his literary career, and some of the demons he faced while becoming famous, he also shares some outstanding editing tips Try these:
Have courage. Use active verbs instead of passive ones.
Sentences should have power, action, and clarity. Otherwise, they are boring.
King believes that timid writers use the passive voice too frequently. Instead, make sure that you have a noun actually doing something in each sentence.
For example, compare these sentences:
Jack was planning to leave Irene for another woman, Stella, who was his secretary.
Jack and his secretary Stella eloped.
The first one uses the passive verb form. Who cares if Jack was planning something?
When he elopes, the story gets interesting. You want to know more. Your mind starts painting a picture and considering all the implications for Jack’s career, future, and the people he discarded.
Action verbs create strong sentences.
Be direct. Make your point in fewer words.
Eliminate needless description.
Remove the word “that” wherever you can.
Never use a long word when you could use a short one.
Give your self time. Write your book, article or website all the way through before you edit.
Create your draft and put it away for at least a few days. Then, read it out loud. Listen to the flow of the words. Cut anything extra. Then, read it aloud. Remove anything that is non-essential, especially adjectives and adverbs.
When you edit, hone your words. Make them crystal clear, action packed, and direct. Read On Writing by Stephen King. Translate his suggestions to your personal style. Then, go write your masterpiece!
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