TLBE episode 2: the Hit List strikes back

So just when I thought it was all nearly over, my editor shows me an example of the work I still need to do.

That image is the moment Han and all the rest of the rebels learn that not only is there another Death Star, they also must attack it ASAP.

Kinda how I feel.

So, here is my Death Star v2.0, or "Hit List"

1. Avoid repetitive sentence structure.
  •   “hello,” he said, walking down the road.  Nearly every quote you have made follows this pattern.
  •   Get rid of some of the “saids”, either by replacing with a better word (announce, suggested etc) or by moving the action first, thereby removing the need to announce who is saying what.  i.e. 
  •   Jimmy raised his hand. ‘It was me.’
  •   Too many sentences look like this: Picking up a cup, he sang a song. Mix it up a bit.  i.e. He sang a song as he picked up the cup. He picked up the cup and he sang a song.  He picked up the cup.  He sang a song.
  •   You have a lot of similes but very few metaphors. Change some of the former into the latter: It can have much more impact.  Eg He felt like a giant. => He was a giant.
  •   Too many broken sentences in the form of: He knew that, unlike his mother, he was lovely.  You do the same with quotes.  Too many: “I am here,” Jimmy said, “to say hello.”  Some are good, too many is not so good.
  •   You need to cut many sentences into smaller pieces.  I’ve highlighted many examples, but many more exist.
  •   Don’t use words like “came” and “began” for speech (so much).  Ie ”Hello”, came a voice.  Better alternatives exist.

2. Words to eliminate by 99% if at all possible.  Search through each instance and try find an alternative.
  •   Began, 274 (70 now) uses
  •   Then (and also “and then”)541 uses (351 now)
  •   But, 855 uses. Alternatives; however, notwithstanding, that, barely, just, only, tho, besides, merely, provided, unless,except, moreover, save, yet, further, nevertheless, still
  • Screamed, only 25 uses, but many of those seem unnecessary or over the top for the context
  • Came, 215
  • Thing, 494 uses
  • All (all these are commonly used but more often than not have more effective alternatives)
  • Thunder – overused as a simile.
  • Whisper – overused to describe conversations.  Even if they do whisper a lot, there are more ways to decribe it.
  • As, 1732 uses – too many things happening “as” other things happen.  i.e. “He jumped as he turned around.”
  • Seem, 163 uses

Here is an image of what a  page of said markup looks like.

Thats a lot of green when you consider that I have to multiply it by 500 pages. Remember all this is merely the final polish, the last hurrah after years of work where the changes were entire paragraphs -- entire chapters -- and not the single words I'm changing now. 

If it sounds like I'm complaining, I am, but not about this. I love this. This is what I want to do with my life. But when I have to spend 6 hours a day marking high school essays and exams, its hard to open up TLBE at night and face down the barrel of the Hit List.



  1. Sounds like you have your work cut out for you. I want to say "may the force be with you," but it's getting to the point where it's cliche. How about just good luck. Think of how great it'll all read after you're done. Too bad you can't program the computer to fix it for you...^-^...


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