copy editing part 2

Published by captain kate in the blog captain kate's blog. Views: 81

Since i seem to have lost my colors, things removed will be in parenthesis


She tore onto the landing field; freedom just feet away.

Her athletic shoes slid across dry, burnt orange ground before they gained a purchase, the sudden stop causing her to windmill both arms to keep balance. She spun (on the balls of her feet), blonde and red hair following the motion (before reversing course). It flopped over her face, ( a golden colored shield,) and the girl (raised) a hand, blood running from several deep cuts on the back of it, pushing it (out of the way) with a growl.

Ok, the first thing I like to look at is how to cut words and keep the same thoughts and flow. If a paragraph starts at 71 words and you get it down to 56 with the same thoughts and flow, then it's now almost 20% smaller, which makes it tighter. In the first one 'on the balls of her feet' is extraneous because 'she spun' is enough. 'A golden colored shield' is redundant because it's color got mentioned in the previous sentence. The last sentence will be changed. Words in blue are the new ones used to replace the former words. The starting numbers were 79 words, let's see how many are left when finished. it's 64 words now and reads like this:

Her athletic shoes slid across dry, burnt orange ground before they gained a purchase, the sudden stop causing her to windmill both arms to keep balance. She spun around, blonde and red hair following the motion. It flopped over her face and the girl, raising a hand, blood running from several deep cuts on the back of it, pushed it away with a growl



The girl squinted her eyes (after spending so much time indoors) licking suddenly dry lips as she kept looking over her shoulder (and) then back (towards) where she came. A young man, burly shoulders rippling, sweat plastering his brown hair to his head, struggled with an older man. He gave up five inches to guard, fighting to (keep him at bay), before looking over at her. (His rounded, chiseled face making her heart flutter for a second, the strain contorting his high cheeks into a grimace of pain, before looking over his shoulder at her.)

The initial paragraph's word count 95 words, and the edited paragraph checks in at 55 words. It's tighter, less repetitive, and flows as well. So, we've cut almost 50% of the words and flow better. Doing something like this with every paragraph will help get your initial word count down to the amount it needs to be.

The girl licked suddenly dry lips, looking over her shoulder, then back where she came. Her lover, a young man, his burly shoulders rippling, sweat plastering his brown hair to his head, struggled with an older man. He gave up five inches the to guard, fighting to allow her escape, before looking over at her.

“Katie, run!” He shouted. “Go! Get to the shuttle!”

(Another voice chimed in.

“Almir! Run, damn it, run!”)

She glanced over a shoulder at the tall man, standing on the shuttle’s cargo ramp, (his long, thin face scrunched in a snarl). The backwash from the shuttle’s turbines lifted his short, salt and peppered hair (as he looked at her, eyes imploring her to run). Dust thrown up from the turbines turned his black uniform an ugly shade of brown and he (kept a hand to)shield eyes.


Ok, we've taking a fair amount of words off this section, changing a 70 word paragraph into a 55 word paragraph that flows better, and cut almost 20% of the words and still makes sense without repeating yourself either. Here's the rewritten section.

“Katie, run!” He shouted. “Go! Get to the shuttle!”
.
Kate took a couple steps towards Thomas, and looked over her shoulder at a tall man standing on the shuttle’s cargo ramp. The turbines’ backwash lifting his short, salt and peppered hair, dust thrown up from the engines turning his black uniform an ugly shade of brown, and he shielded his eyes with a hand.

This gives a good idea of how to do some copy editing.
  • P.V. Moyer
  • captain kate
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