As some of you already know, I’ve been happily working my way through backlist books, editing redundancies and some headhopping and chopping a lot of bad craft as I go. At the time, I just merrily wrote the stories in my head. The books I’m just about to put up are Texas Lily and Wayward Angel, written in the early 90’s, probably on one of those electronic typewriters with the erase-a-tape built in. And a dot matrix printer. Remember those things? Took me days to print an entire manuscript!
I’d like to think I would have eventually edited out the silliness if I’d had a real computer at the time, but my very first computer was a Leading Edge that freaked out and lost all my work every time the lights flickered. And the lights flickered frequently. So even when I had a computer, I wrote by hand and typed in the manuscript. Editing was something those people in NYC did. Not me. I didn’t have the time for it. Those were ENORMOUS books.
So here’s my craft boo-boo for the day: “When the flames began flickering into life—”
Okay folks, let’s hear it--were there flames? Then there’s no “began” to it. The flames flickered to life. Period.
Do a search in your manuscript for “began, begin, beginning” and see how many times they can be eliminated to strengthen the sentence. Began is a passive word that delays the action. It’s almost always unnecessary. Take out your aggression and strike that baby. Delete. Whap. Gone.
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