Annie On Writing

January 29, 2011

Self Editing Tips – 2# – Bin “then”.. and other words

Filed under: Articles From write anything,Writing Tips — Annie Evett @ 1:01 am

This Article first appeared over at Write Anything

Mac OS X trash icon when it contains files.
Turf or Trash those rubbish words

Self editing involves the ability to look at ones work with an impersonal eye, becoming detached from those precious words you as a writer slaved over. A skill required if you are to take your place as a writer seriously, Self Editing and redrafting opens your  eyes to all the lazy, flabby words we are all guilty of using.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of my terrible writing habits; and ways I use in the attempt to tighten my work.

Annihilate the words ‘that’, ‘then’ , ‘there are’ or ‘there is’ or ‘to be.’ .  Its a rare piece of text which requires either of these words to show up regularly or as a valuable or necessary participant. There are always better ways to write sentence without having to use those phrases.

Step One.

Use the “find” feature on your word processing to identify your key word and phrases.

Step Two

Read the sentence which utilises those ‘dirty’ words.  Force them to plea for their inclusion. Rewrite the phrase or sentence without those words.

This type of self editing will make your writing more action packed and creative. These words and phrases pack on unnecessary bulk and are a great way to slice your word count in your first ‘go over’.

For some writers self editing is a painful process and one that they try to avoid.  However, I am reminded by a famed quote ( which I can’t attribute at the moment)  which states the best stories are not written; they are re-written.

Image via Wikipedia



  1. Thanks for the self-editing advice. I’m sure many other writers have the same issues I do with cutting any of my “precious” words. Having a set of words to look for and then turning the editing into a challenge of rewording a sentence takes the process from a personal affront to an exercise in style. I’m eager to try this out on my next piece.


    Comment by Laura Rachel Fox — January 31, 2011 @ 1:37 am | Reply

  2. An even simpler way to find the ‘dirty words’ is to use the AutoCrit Editing Wizard. It lets you know when you’ve used too many. It finds a bunch of other writing problems, too, like slow pacing, repeated words and phrases, etc. I love it.


    Comment by Kay Tee — February 14, 2011 @ 12:57 pm | Reply

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