Quick Summary of Editing Creates Style

Quick Summary of the “Editing Creates Style

Sara Jenlink  4/16

Did you know that Kurt Vonnegut wrote and published for twenty years before he was recognized for his sixth novel, Slaughterhouse-Five? In the new book, The Brothers Vonnegut: Science and Fiction in the House of Magic (2015), author Ginger Strand assures us he kept writing, honing his plots and his wording.


We are in the early stages of Vonnegut. Right?

So, let’s take a look at a few editing (tightening) tips. Hopefully these ideas will help.

BTW: At various stages in the writing of this passage, I was stuck with too many prepositional phrases, that’s, passive (sleeper) verbs, and question words—all changed to improve the flow of the thought. (Notice, I kept one “that” because it was in a question.) I also revised in order to keep the title of two books separated. A visual separation allows the reader to recognize two books without stopping to process the difference.

Thirty minutes later, I had two trusted editors look it over. Finally I put it aside, then reviewed it the next day.

Here’s the editing tip for today:

n WORD, pull up your document.

  • At the top right corner: SELECT/SELECT ALL/ FIND, or you can use Ctrl, F hot keys.
  • In the left column is the FIND “search document” rectangle. (If the essay shows up there, simply X it out.)
  • Type in the search word. Edit out, always weighing the intent of the sentence/ paragraph/ passage.
  • Seek the following edits (no caps).

that                       * These take a SPACE AFTER the last letter.

Seems                     that is                                  LY

Start                        there is                                ING

Begin                       it is                                                To be

Was                         is because

were                      * These words use a SPACE BEFORE and AFTER it. The spaces isolate the word rather than highlight the letters randomly inside a word.

Had                          IN, ON, AND, SO, IT, ITS, FOR, BUT, OR, TO, IS, ARE, BE



Where, How, When, What

May I explain the problem with “is because”? I call this a teeter-totter sentence. Often the “is because” sits in the middle of a sentence which starts with a throw-away thought—a first draft thought.

EX: The reason Harold ran is because he was afraid.  Change this to: Harold ran, afraid for his life.

This is plenty for now! Go forth, Young Vonnegut!