The ups and downs of writing

I talk a lot about redundant words or filter words. Words that are in general, useless and take up valuable writing space.

Up and down are two such words. Sometimes they are necessary and most often not. When I took a good look at these two I had
460 Up’s brought down to 274 after revision
250 Down’s brought down to 126 after revision.
The remainders were necessary.


For example:

He tied up his shoelaces. – He tied his shoelaces.
He set the mug down on the table. – He set the mug on the table.
She stood up. – She stood.
He sat down hard. – He sat hard.
The balloon rose up in the air. – The balloon rose in the air

Sometimes it’s necessary so don’t use the auto search and replace feature.
For example:

He let her down.
She cheered up.
The arrow pointed down.
You’re going down!
I’ll never give up.

Chances are if I’m using up and down I’m tossing all kinds of other unnecessary words in for giggles. When I find them I take care to check out their neighbouring words and see if anyone else needs to get an eviction notice.

Sasha set down the two layouts on her desk, stood up from her chair and walked over to the window. Looking down to the sidewalk down below she sighed. He was down there waiting for her. He wouldn’t give up. “Persistent jerk.” She pulled down the shade to block the view. Returning to her desk, she sat down, picked up the layouts and started going over what was wrong with them. (71)

Oh dear, I’m a wordy writer. Snip, snip… Time for a trim.

Sasha set the two layouts on her desk, stood and went to the window. Looking at the sidewalk below, she sighed. He was waiting for her. “Persistent jerk.” She pulled the shade blocking the view, returned to her desk, and continued to revise the layouts. (45)

I’m pretty sure her comment about him being persistent can stand in place of “He wouldn’t give up.” I am not perfect and even revising and editing my material, I’m certain I miss things like this. That is why I make a list of words such as up and down and use the search(search only not search and replace) feature and check up on each and every occurrence. Tedious? Yup you bet, but when you trim the excess and end up with something smooth and shiny it’s rewarding. 

My advice about up and downs.
It’s a common sense thing. You can use them if you want to, but redundancy can cost you professionalism points in the eyes of agents, publishers and readers. Consider the value of the words you use and improve on them if you can.

-Sheryl

Related posts

Getting a little touchy feely

More is less, and vice versa.

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12 thoughts on “The ups and downs of writing

  1. Good advice here. My first drafts are jammed with this stuff.

    I just finished a 17 chapter series called Rose that publish in December. During the past year I’ve lost count of the times I’ve edited these unnecessary words

    Liked by 1 person

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