My WIP’s Fourth Revision
Eliminating Common Words
I will continue to use a discarded scene from my First Draft as an example for editing. A prior post includes the original text alongside edits of the verb BE, one with edits to filters, another editing adverbs, plus this one This time I will start with the edited version and then look at common words. The difference is that I edited out no common words.
Common words, often called glue words, are the 250 most common words in English.
Is there anything wrong with using them?
The text feels ordinary and unremarkable. It’s easy to read…and easy to forget.
What I Tried To Do
How many is too many? ProWritingAid suggests no more than 40% glue words, and even highlight sentences which have more than 40%. My selected piece contained 36% glue words so I elected to do nothing.
But, had I wanted to remove glue words, I wouldn’t start with ProWritingAid’s selected sentences. Instead, I would have gone to my spread sheet and looked at the common words used the most times, and worked my way down the list from their. And I found the following – the (16), to (14), and (11), of (8), for (7), in (7), with (7), but (6), and a fair number of words used four or fewer times.
Scene = 442 (+19) words. TO BE’S = 0 (0); FILTERS = 1 (+1); NON -LY ADVERBS = 1 (-19); COMMON WORDS = 154 (+5); PRONOUNS = 65 (+2); SCORING = 0.36 (-0.02).
How It Looked
|Revised To Reduce Adverbs||Revised To Reduce Common Words
|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, or try to eavesdrop.||No changes|
|He regarded the source of his troubles. Running Deer stood half a foot shorter than his 5’ 9”, no one would ever mistake her for Grand Haran with her darker skin and glossy black hair. And carrying the Count’s child this deep
|“You’re looking as beautiful as ever, dear child, but I’m rather astonished my sister, Ellana, would have bricked you in or whatever you do
|She patted her her huge belly and made a face. “I wish 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.”||No changes.|
|“Yes. Ebert.” Corston tapped the floor with his cane. “You did well, girl, to break off with him. I’m delighted you listened to—”||No changes.|
|“Make him stop.” She clutched at his sleeves. “He will listen to you, Uncle. I grieve for him for his hurt perhaps matches the pain in my heart, but he must stop.” She took a deep breath, eyes flashing. “Please?”||No changes.|
|Corston turned his arms, taking her hands in his. “Yes. Well, I suppose it’s time.” A month had passed since she broke with Ebert, but he showed no signs of coming to his senses. “I will, dear child.” He leaned and kissed her forehead.||No changes.|
|Then he motioned for Vitona and Bright Star and they
|Worry tugged at him. Until she bore a son, the Confederation amounted to little more than words with no physical reality. Given a chance, the heir might weave the two Peoples into whole cloth. But, Ebert threatened to upend everything and, his nephew’s love
Next time I will talk about pronouns.