Editing - word choice and repetition

Every now and again I'm going to do a post where I explain some technique I use in research, writing, or editing. We all have systems and ideas we try, and I think it is good to share these. You never know, someone might have a better idea, or a refinement to your technique, which you will only discover if you are open about the things you do.

I recently finished the first draft of a 5,000 word short story, currently called 'Other  People's Stories' (yes, I know it isn't a great title!). One of the editing tasks I applied at the end was checking for repetition of the same words. Sometimes you get stuck on the same word; when pouring words onto the page it repeats itself every time. That's fine while writing, since the idea is to get as many words flowing as possible; the editing comes later. I'll demonstrate a method I use with a real example from editing that story.

Pied piper

I have a public Facebook page where I post links to do with writing (my own, or that of other people, or writing in general). Facebook is this fancy technology called 'social networking' which apparently enables easy two-way communication. Most reports by people called 'scientists' suggest that by 2015 it will completely replace any face-to-face interaction between humans. The positive effects of this will include eradicating communicable diseases, leading to healthier home sapiens; also it will do wonders for preventing procreation and therefore halting the population explosion. See, come here and you learn stuff!

Sadly, not many people currently 'like' my page. Until I get enough 'likes':
  • I cannot access "insights about my activity" (whatever that is).
  • I do not count as a whole person. In fact, it makes me look like a pathetic failure of a human being who no-one likes.
  • I will stop eating custard.
As you can see, this is pretty serious. So if you use this new-fangled book of faces, please consider clicking the button that says 'like'.

Turner book giveaway

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Turner by Karl Drinkwater


by Karl Drinkwater

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Review: Z for Zachariah

Z for Zachariah
Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O'Brien

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had gone out of my way to get a copy of this book and the effort was well worth it. It's an excellently written story, kept simple so the focus is clear. It's about humans destroying the world; survival; holding on to values; hope; and the misuse of power. The details of many of the themes, such as Loomis' possessiveness, are cleverly layered in to the narrative. It reinforces something I've suspected for years: a well-written young adult novel can be just as engaging and tense as something which is more gratuitous, and in many cases the restraint shown actually enhances the story.

I have read some other reviews, and those who are dissatisfied with the novel often mention that they wish Ann had shot Loomis. She had a number of opportunities, and if she had taken them she could have saved Faro. I think this is perhaps more of an issue for a modern audience. Ann is true to her character and that is commendable, though I also found myself thinking "At least shoot him in the arm or leg, disarm him, take back what is yours." Two other aspects of the novel struck me as oversights. Why didn't Loomis hide the cart, lock it away? It was so important to him it seems strange that he left it in the open even after the conflict started. The other issue was with the padlocked store. Surely Ann could have just smashed the windows, then taken and hidden loads of useful supplies?

I won't let those caveats reduce the mark though. The novel tells an important story and grips the reader. I stayed up too late last night finishing it off, racing through the last forty pages. It's like a more innocent version of McCarthy's 'The Road', and with better punctuation.

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Who are you?

Image by marcos bh

This blog now gets around a thousand hits a month, and I am grateful to all the people who pass through the open gate and explore the Victorian gardens beyond. My stats give me an indication of the countries people come from (most visitors are from the UK, US, Russia, Germany, Australia and Canada); what browser they use (Firefox wins); and what posts were most popular.

I'd like to know more though. So please tell me a bit more about yourself in the comments below. Who are you? Where do you live? Why do you visit? Do you work in a creative industry? Do you like tea? What sports do you enjoy? What would you like to see more, or less, of on this blog? Why don't cats like being laughed at, whereas dogs don't mind? Feel free to link to your website or blog if you want, a free promotion opportunity! In fact, say anything you want, we're all grown ups.

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