1. Magnatolia
    Offline

    Magnatolia Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2014
    Messages:
    210
    Likes Received:
    28

    Have I got the right idea with my rewrites?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Magnatolia, May 10, 2014.

    Hi guys,

    I've purchased a bunch of self-edit and revision books to give what I've written a better revision. The first thing I'm tackling is the word 'was'. I have 537 results in a total of 56,000 words. What I'm planning to do is gather all the tips and advice into one place and then start trawling for these kind of things.

    This is what I've come up with. I just want to make sure I'm doing the best rewrite I can:

    Outside it was still night with a faint glow rising over the horizon that began to spread a pale morning light over everything

    Outside a faint glow began to rise above the horizon, spreading a pale light across the land.

    He was losing most of his fur, and one eye had fallen off years ago but she’d had him for nearly ten years now.

    Most of his fur was long gone, and an eye had fallen off years ago, but she’d had him for nearly ten years now. OR Not bad considering he was nearly ten years old now. (The alternative would would be instead of the because section, not sure which one is better)

    The ground was soft from the recent rain and they stumbled their way toward the beckoning forest.

    The stumbled towards the beckoning forest, the wet ground sucking at their shoes.

    The only sound was the pounding of their hearts as they moved as quickly as they could.

    They moved as quickly as they could, their pounding hearts and labored breath the only sounds keeping them company


    They turned to head towards Lyron when the sound of crackling leaves rooted them to the spot. It was coming from the nearby forest
    .

    They turned to head towards Lyron when the sound of crackling eaves rooted them to the spot. It came from the nearby forest. (Is this last sentence an appropriate change? Couldn't decide if it was better to have the characters peer into the forest...example:The soldiers peered into the surrounding trees)
    Thanks heaps guys!
     
    jannert likes this.
  2. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,804
    Likes Received:
    7,322
    Location:
    Scotland
    Personally, I think all these re-writes work.

    The word 'was' does have its uses, but it's always a good plan to rethink any word you (or others) feel you over-use. In each case above, the use of 'was' isn't horrible, but your re-writes make the sentences read better, and—oddly enough—the meaning clearer as well.

    Good job!
     
  3. stevesh
    Offline

    stevesh Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2008
    Messages:
    968
    Likes Received:
    646
    Location:
    Mid-Michigan USA
    I like all the rewrites better than the originals, though I believe it should be 'toward', not 'towards' in the last one.
     
    jannert likes this.
  4. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,804
    Likes Received:
    7,322
    Location:
    Scotland
    Actually, I was interested in this and looked it up. Both 'toward' and 'towards' are apparently correct and somewhat interchangeable. Apparently 'toward' is an Americanised version of the British 'towards.'

    The (American) Webster's New World College Dictionary lists both words. So does the 2013 edition of the (English) Oxford Pocket Dictionary. The British Roget's Thesaurus lists only 'towards,' as does the Collins Thesaurus, which is also British. The American Roget's Thesaurus lists only 'toward.'
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2014
  5. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,684
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    "Across the land" is fine if the rest of the description is dealing with an actual very large tract of land, but if it means "across the nation", as it sometimes does, that is a stylistic change that will only work if it's consistent with the style of the rest of the narrative.

    This is fine, but drop the comma after "gone".

    This is quite good.

    This is going to be a matter of individual taste, but sounds do not keep one company. I would only use that phrase if it referred to one person moving alone, in which case "keeping him/her company" would be a way to highlight the fact of being alone.

    I don't care for either. I'd prefer to simplify: They started for Lyron when a crackling sound from the nearby forest rooted them to the spot.
     
  6. Magnatolia
    Offline

    Magnatolia Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2014
    Messages:
    210
    Likes Received:
    28
    @stevesh that's interesting actually. As @jannert pointed out both are used, however I did read a statistic that Australians use towards on a ratio of 10 to 1 compared to toward. For some reason it feels really foreign on my tongue.

    @EdFromNY - Thanks for some really detailed responses. Across the land meant the landscape from where they are to the horizon.

    Could you give me some basic advice on comma usage. I always use a comma if I've essentially turned dot points into a combined sentence. So if I wrote He was a big man, and he stomped the ground, but I wasn't afraid. So for me as big man, and stomped the ground are two separate things I separate them.

    I love your last example about simplifying.

    Thanks heaps everyone, glad I'm on the right track with this.
     
  7. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,804
    Likes Received:
    7,322
    Location:
    Scotland
    I like this - He was a big man and he stomped the ground, but I wasn't afraid. Lovely sentence. I'd leave out the comma after 'man,' though. The 'and' provides enough of a conjunction on its own.

    The description of the man and how he walked is one singular 'idea,' while the thought that it didn't scare the onlooker is another. I'd use that sort of thinking to determine where to put the comma.

    Commas are funny wee things. Lots of instances of usage are down to preference, not hard and fast rules.
     
  8. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    heed the old axiom, 'too many cooks spoil the broth'!

    all tips and advice are not 'created equal'... and even the good ones aren't meant to be taken as gospel and followed to the letter in all instances... fiction is not called 'creative' writing for nothing, y'know... and writing or editing 'by committee' pretty much guarantees you'll end up with an inedible mess, instead of a delectable dish...
     
  9. Magnatolia
    Offline

    Magnatolia Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2014
    Messages:
    210
    Likes Received:
    28
    Thanks @mammamaia don't worry, by trawling I mean searching for them and then determining whether they are causing narrative, or are actually a characters thoughts, or if they're in dialog. The last two I generally keep.

    I find I use 'was' a lot by adding -ing to the verb following it, which I'm changing. For example I might say He was running to the car whereas this reads better as He ran towards the car. Or I mix the order of the words up because I used 'was'. For example: There was an old watching him could be An old man watched him. Again with adding that -ing.

    I never delete a word solely because it can be a weak word, unless a rewrite sounds better.
     

Share This Page