Not an Editing “Tip.”


(Just a tool that might help clean up your writing and create a faster paced reading experience.)

Removing excess words. If you don’t need particular words, why keep them?

  • Another crashing wave sends me into a sprawl, and I’m forced to use my tides a few more times to distance myself from the rocks.
  • I should drop down as deep[er] as I can manage [and] use the reef for cover.
  • I can’t tear my eyes away until he disappears fully from view.
  • A burst of lightning shows the outline[s] of the cliff side.
  • A loud thud from the port window makes me jump, drawing my full attention. -> I jump at a loud thud from the port window.

Showing instead of telling. Making the reader feel what the protagonist feels is almost always better than telling them the protagonist is undergoing something.

  • I can’t believe the sight I see. ->  My lungs catch painfully, a shocked squeak rising out.
  • Everything is slick and wet. -> The slick metal offers no hold for my wet hands. I clench my fingers until the ridges bite into my scales, shark teeth holding me in place. Agonizing.

Removing passive voice. Active voice is more engaging and should be always be used unless you have a specific reason not to use it for that sentence.

  • The rock is a muddled, dark brown, and I almost miss him amid the lofty coastline. -> I almost miss him against the muddled, dark brown rock, his body tiny amid the lofty coastline.
  • Her voice is strained and furious. -> Fury strains her voice.
  • The wound is closed again, but before it closed, enough blood seeped out that I now feel woozy and off kilter. -> The wound closed while I slept, but enough blood seeped out that my head still spin, my limbs heavy.

Always remember though: you have to do what works best for that particular moment. Some scenes require different strokes than others. Use your best judgement, and take pride in your personal writing style.