Monday, May 20, 2013

Simple Editing Tip

Don't you just love these?

I may or may not be the only person
 who uses this 
(typically) superfluous word 
JUST in case I'm not,

keep your eyes open
and your Find and Replace ready 


She looked at Marie who seemed to be breathing harder.

Well, was she or wasn’t she?

Instead try-
She looked at Marie who was breathing harder.

(side note: In most cases you could also take off the She looked and just make it: Marie was breathing hard.)

Of course there are some cases where the POV character can't decide what they are seeing and then perhaps seem/seemed would be appropriate but look at each one carefully.

A few more examples:

When they reached the end of the tunnel they seemed to have to pry their way out
When they reached the end of the tunnel they pried their way out.

He stood which seemed harder than he anticipated
He stood which was harder than he anticipated.

You all know how to use Find and Replace, right? 
Well search out your seems and get your word count down, your sentences tighter, 
and just have a fun ol' time!

Jolly good fun!


  1. This is a great tip. If it fits the scene, you could also go a step further and make it more active: "Marie breathed hard." *off to find 'seem' in my document* :)

    1. YES! I wasn't using a critical enough editing-eye in my editing post. *face palm*

  2. I have to use find and replace with the word "that". Good lawd, how many times can one writer use "that"? Apparently, according to my writing, quite a bit!

  3. Yes! I use those a lot in that first draft and then have to search the dang things out.

  4. I just checked--45 "seems" in my MS. I will get in there and annihilate them! I also use "just" a lot.

  5. If I'm not mistaken the past tense of breathe is brothe, I seem to think.

    "Marie brothe hard." Yes, yes, I'm quite sure. ;)

  6. Good advice! Another one that's easy to cut is "felt." It's always nice when you can find easy fixes like that! ;)

  7. Perfect tip! I totally struggle with that too :)

  8. Seems to me that I need to get around and do this ;)

  9. Great tip! That's a big one in my list that needs to be edited out.

  10. I am so guilty of this.

  11. Excellent tip! I use Find and Replace a lot when editing. :)

  12. Seems to me that you should give us more of these tips!


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