My WIP’s Fourth Revision – Editing (4)

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My WIP’s Fourth Revision

Eliminating The Verb BE

I used some tools to help me edit.

go to leekah 1

For the rest of these posts on editing I’m going to use a discarded scene from my First Draft.  I wrote it well over two years ago and, until I started putting this post together, hadn’t given it the time of day.  Further down I will show two versions of the scene, side by side.  On one side will be where I started from, and the other side will be how it turned out.

Exciting?

Nope.

The Verb, BE

First of all, I need to make a disclaimer.  I am not an expert in the English language, or any other.  Whatever I learned came in High School.  So, don’t go looking for a dissertation using $60 dollar words…cuz I ain’t got em.

The verb, BE, in its various forms (AM, ARE, BE, BEEN, BEING, IS, WAS, WERE), indicates state of being.  When we want to assert something to the exclusion of all others, be is great.  But it can lead to writing which is vague, and it can pave the way to passive writing.

So, what would be a perfect use, where want no other choice to exist?

Be quiet.  You be quiet.  You be quiet this instant.

Those statements tolerate no alternative.  And, if that’s what we want, it’s great.
But, in other instances we may wind up out in vagueness, which usually isn’t a good thing.

And, if you want to find explanations using $60 dollar words, just google what’s so bad about to be and see what kind of hits you get.  I even understood some of them.  Ha.

What I Tried To Do

I’m still too new with this method to understand what is a good number for BE.  I’m thinking of using a percentage of BE usage for characters in a future WIP, after I experiment with it.  When I wrote one of my characters I decided to give him opportunities to speak in passive, but I’m wondering I can get the same effect by writing some characters with a higher usage of BE than others.  But, for this time, I’ve decided I will settle for paring down the number of BE words as much as practical.

So I rewrote the scene, and the scoring changed.

Scene = 415 (+19) words.  TO BE’S = 0 (-11); FILTERS = 3 (-4); NON -LY ADVERBS = 21 (-2);  COMMON WORDS = 150 (-12);  PRONOUNS = 64 (-2);  SCORING = 0.37 (-0.01).

My scene grew a bit, but I wasn’t too surprised by that.  As I worked out how to cut BE’s, I found myself writing more specifically at times, which strengthened the scene (I hope).

In other areas we improved, which was also a good thing.  But I must confess I wasn’t focused just on BE’s, but also found myself fixing one or two other things.  But that’s just how it goes.

How It Looked

Original Scene Revised To Reduce The Verb BE
Without seeming, Corston steered Running Deer into an alcove, off the main hallway.  Nodding to Bright Star and Vitona, he turned his back, comfortable in the knowledge none would dare interrupt him.  Nor could he overheard. Without seeming, Corston steered Running Deer into an alcove, off the main hallway.  Nodding to Bright Star and Vitona, he turned his back, comfortable in the knowledge none would dare interrupt him.  Nor could he overheard.
I made no changes…this time.
He looked down on the source of his troubles.  Running Deer stood half a foot shorter than his 5’ 9”.  When she looked up at him, he remembered how different she (1)was, with her darker skin and glossy black hair.  She (2)was, every inch, the Lasha Princess, called by some, the Lasha Witch.  Heavy with the Count’s child, her beauty (3)was still striking.  And he (4)was no more immune to her charm than other men. He looked down on the source of his troubles.  Running Deer stood half a foot shorter than his 5’ 9”.  When she looked up at him, he remembered how different she was, no one would ever mistake her for Grand Haran with her darker skin and glossy black hair.  She was, every inch, the Lasha Princess, called by some, the Lasha Witch.  Heavy with And carrying the Count’s child this far into pregnancy only enhanced, her beauty and  was still striking.  And he was no more immune to her charm than other men.   And her animal magnetism continued to attract followers to her, the ones who called her Lashan Princess, while repelling others who resorted to calling her the Lashan Witch.
I found four instances of was.

(1) Was is tied to different, after which I go on to describe her skin and hair color, so why not just describe it and eliminate the word.

(2) Was is tied to things people call her, and it seemed easier to move it down and combine the thoughts into other thoughts.

(3) Was is not very strong and I decided to basically eliminate the phrase and combine it with the ideas left over from (2) Was.

(4) Was didn’t add much by itself, and got all rolled into the (2) Was and (3) Was.

“You’re looking a beautiful as ever, dear child.  But, I would have thought my sister, Ellana, would have you bricked up, as it (5)were, in your confinement.”  He chuckled.  “What (6)is so important that you must (7)be out?” “You’re looking a beautiful as ever, dear child.  But but, I would have thought my sister, Ellana, would have you bricked you up or whatever you do , as it were, in your confinement,” Corston said.    He chuckled.  “What is so important that you must be out?”  “I must presume a matter of great import for you to risk her displeasure.
In this paragraph I had three opportunities.

(5) Were went away even though it was a character’s speech affectation, and replaced it with something a little different.

(6) Is and (7) Be went into something in keeping with the character that was a bit more to the point.

She looked down at her huge belly and made a face.  “I wish this would (8)be over.  The time creeps by.”  She clutched at that smooth agate with its swirls of green and blue.  “Ebert.” She looked down at her huge belly and made a face.  “I wish this would be over.  The my son to come out for I weary of this but time creeps by.”  She clutched at that smooth agate with its swirls of green and blue.  “Ebert.”
(8) Be wasn’t very specific and I picked something a bit more in keeping in with the character, as well as scooping up another shorter sentence.
“Yes.  Ebert.”  Corston tapped the floor with his cane.  “You did well, girl, to break off with him.  I’m delighted you listened to—” “Yes.  Ebert.”  Corston tapped the floor with his cane.  “You did well, girl, to break off with him.  I’m delighted you listened to—”
I made no changes…this time.
“Make him stop.”  She clutched at his sleeves.  “He will listen to you, Uncle.  I know he hurts.  I, too.  Make him stop.”  She took a deep breath, eyes flashing.  “Please?” “Make him stop.”  She clutched at his sleeves.  “He will listen to you, Uncle.  I know he hurts.  I, too.  Make him stop.”  She took a deep breath, eyes flashing.  “Please?”
I made no changes…this time.
Corston turned his arms, taking her hands in his.  “Yes.  Well, I suppose it’s time.”  He knew it had (9)been over a month, and he had wondered when Ebert would come to his senses.  “I will, dear child.”  He leaned and kissed her forehead. Corston turned his arms, taking her hands in his.  “Yes.  Well, I suppose it’s time.”  He knew it had been over a month, and he had wondered when Ebert would come to his senses.  A month had passed since she broke with Ebert, yet he showed no signs of coming to his senses.  “I will, dear child.”  He leaned and kissed her forehead.
(9) Been was couple with a filtering word, knew, and a rewording made the sentence stronger and more interesting.
Then he motioned for Vitona and Bright Star.  They steered their Lady down the hall.  Even now, the girl carried herself with remarkable grace, almost no waddle.  People smiled as she approached.  She did that to people.  Her soft words, in that delightful accent, won them over.  Some ladies had even begun to mix Lasha dress into their Grand Hara styles. Then he motioned for Vitona and Bright Star.  They steered their Lady down the hall.  Even now, the girl carried herself with remarkable grace, almost no waddle.  People smiled as she approached.  She did that to people.  Her soft words, in that delightful accent, won them over.  Some ladies had even begun to mix Lasha dress into their Grand Hara styles.
I made no changes…this time.
Worry tugged at him.  Until she bore a son, the Confederation (10)was a phrase, not a fact.  The heir would knit the two Peoples together.  But, Ebert threatened to upend that.  Corston decided he must help Ebert.  That his nephew loved the girl (11)was beyond question.  But that must stop.  Now. Worry tugged at him.  Until she bore a son, the Confederation was a phrase, existed as so many words, not a fact.  The heir would knit the two Peoples together.  But, Ebert threatened to upend that.  Corston decided he must help Ebert.  That everything and, however much his nephew loved the girl was beyond question.  But that must stop.  Now. matters of state took precedence.  Corston would put Ebert’s interference to a stop.
(10) Was seemed limiting when I could use a few more words to come up with something interesting.

(11) Was seemed too vague and I found new words to.

 

What’s next?

Next time I will talk about filters.

Read about editing out filter words.
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8 thoughts on “My WIP’s Fourth Revision – Editing (4)

  1. Pingback: My WIP’s Fourth Revision – Editing (3) | Simply Silent

  2. Pingback: My WIP’s Fourth Revision – Editing (5) | Simply Silent

  3. Pingback: My WIP’s Fourth Revision – Editing (6) | Simply Silent

  4. Pingback: My WIP’s Fourth Revision – Editing (7) | Simply Silent

  5. Pingback: My WIP’s Fourth Revision – Editing (8) | Simply Silent

  6. Pingback: My WIP’s Fourth Revision – Editing (9) | Simply Silent

  7. Pingback: My WIP’s Fourth Revision – Editing (10) | Simply Silent

  8. Pingback: My WIP’s Fourth Revision – Editing (11) | Simply Silent

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