Over at Fangs, Fur, & Fey, Markdf has a post about a revision trick he uses to clean up his manuscripts. He calls it the "Really Very Beautiful" Rule. Basically, those words (and some others) are so overused as to be meaningless in fiction. What does "really beautiful" look like? It's so vague that it means nothing.

I haven't looked at my own manuscript for this particular flaw,* but I do have my own personal tics to look at when I'm finished with a draft. For example, my characters are always "looking" at things. Seriously, I have to take out a ton of "looking" every time I write a draft. I don't know what I'm so fascinated with where characters are looking, but there you go.

Also, my characters sigh a lot. In fairness, I think that's partly because most of my characters are teenagers and, frankly, they sigh a lot. But I also put it in as a conversation pause and just as a reflex, so a lot of those need to come out as well.

One of the best responses to Mark's post is from Will, an editor, who keeps a list for each author he edits of the words that that particular author tends to overuse. Of course, I think that's the best tip, because I keep an editing list for myself that does the exact same thing. :) Great minds, man. We don't all make the same mistakes, but we each make our own mistakes over and over again.

~~~

* Although I'm going to, let me tell you!

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