Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Killing Your Ands

The other day I told you about The Great Editing Lock down and how I managed to cut over 12,000 words. I thought I would take the opportunity to tell you about some of the words I cut.
Specifically: ‘and’.

And is a sneaky little bastard. And wants to be in every sentence you write. And thinks he’s the shit. And needs to get a life.

When you’re writing you of course need to have descriptions about what’s going on in the scenes around your characters. You also have to tell your readers what your characters are doing. But And wants to be all up in the middle of all of that. When you’re in the groove of writing, getting lost in the flow of words, you don’t really notice how often And sneaks in there. Your sentences start stringing along until, before you know it, And has snuck in there two or three times before a new period ever shows up. This is bad.

Now of course, I didn’t notice this right off. Most writers don’t until someone points it out. And thank goodness one of my betas did. I think it was probably one sentence too many and she finally realized some of the sentences were starting to drag on so she started crossing out the Ands, shortening a few sentences, figuring out they were stronger that way. Now, of course she stopped herself because she felt like she was doing it too much so she just made a note of it for me to consider. Boy was she right. Now that it was pointed out to me I couldn’t believe how many And’s had found there burrowing way into my sentences.

So while I was working through the great word killing spree I made sure to focus on And to see how often he showed up unnecessarily. Before I put these edits on the computer I did a search through the whole document for the word “and”. I found that there were 4,064 ands in my book. Now, remember, the book was over 98,000 words, so there are going to be a lot of “ands” but then, after I did the edits I did a new search. Do you know what I found? 3,508 “ands”. Oh yes, that means I cut 556 “ands”.

So there’s your writing advice for the week; go through your work and see where you can trim the fatty ands. Make those sentences stronger boys and girls!


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