Popping Inflated Sentences
Sharing my editing and revising process(woes, struggles, and achievements) is one of my favorite types of posts to do. I like to share my woes, mistakes and the things I’ve learned. It’s no secret that I love writing. It’s also no secret that I’m a wordy writer. I embellish and add so much crap to a sentence that is unnecessary. I’m not going to throw a conniption fit about my mistakes, they are easy to fix, and that’s what the editing and revising process are for.
I’ve been rewriting BiaAtlas line by line shortening inflated sentences and taking out repetitive content. Today I’m going to share some actual sentences I found within the first 3 chapters and what I did to fix them. The fixes may not be perfect, but it’s a start.
Original: She was swallowing hard and trying hard not to throw up.
Corrected: She swallowed the urge to throw up.
Those ings get me every time. From 11 down to 7 words and it reads better.
Original: The boy lies and pretends to be normal, but he is far from normal.
Corrected: The boy is far from the normal he pretends to be.
That sentence was too much normal. 14 down to 11.
Original: While they decided if she would be suitable or not.
Corrected: While they determined her suitability.
Not bad, took that sentence from 10 down to 5. Decide, decided, deciding are filter words. As you can see I highlighted decide and it found decided. I use the search/replace feature to highlight filter words, dependant words(Words I depend on too much) and things like LY and ING. The post “Well color me silly“ explains how I do this(I do plan to revisit that post and add some new content soon).
This next one is a smidge out of context. The gist is that this is an introspective sentence and the man is thinking about the danger of having loved ones used against him in hostage situations.
Original: How many times has he seen loved ones used against him? Too many. (13)
Corrected: Too many times have loved ones been used against him. (10)
I don’t like been or being. They are filter words often used in the introspective narrative. Been has to go.
Corrected: Too often have loved ones been used against him. (9)
Corrected: Loved ones have been used against him often. (8)
Corrected: Loved ones are a hostage liability. (6)
Potentially down from 13 to 6. That’s a win for word count and the new sentence fits far better in the paragraph than the many words of the original.
The point of this is to show how a sentence can be whittled down if the word count is too high. Also, it shows that sentences can be recrafted into something tighter, cleaner and easier on the eyes.
I’m not going to sit here and say that I catch every crap-loaded sentence, but I do try. The re-write is difficult because it is line by line. It takes time, patience and quiet to think and concentrate.
My advice about whittling popping inflated sentences
Take your time to recognize an inflated sentence. Use the find and search feature to highlight common filter words, adverbs (LY), clichés, jargon, and garbage words you rely on or often repeat in a sentence. This will help make the problem sentences noticeable.