Editing Rant: Suddenly, A New Year

Stock art of "About Time"

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Suddenly, A New Year for Editing Rants

Happy New Year. Are you Finally ready to look over your 2016 NaNo manuscript? You know it Eventually had to happen; it shouldn’t Suddenly be hitting you. The change of year should be a time shift, and you should be Starting to change your writing focus, Finally. A new Beginning and all that.

With thriller, mystery, and major choreography (fight or sex scenes), time is a driving focus. Adverbs are used to express time more than any other part of speech. As such, the normal drill of removing adverbs from the manuscript runs into a snag. Without the pulsing time adverbs, the ticking clock starts winding down.

On the other hand, I have a reason for my Time Adverb Editing Rant.

Finally, Suddenly, Eventually, … Please, please do not use more than one on a page. Certainly not two or three times in a paragraph.


“Finally” is … I don’t know … FINAL. Use it too much and the reader starts wondering if it ever is going to end.

(Gif from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Movie 1992))

“Suddenly” is SUDDEN; too many and you get whiplash. etc.

Yes, the manuscript I edited had two “finally”s in the same paragraph. I dislike seeing more than one per chapter.

And often the feeling of “suddenly” can be much more effectively shown in the manuscript than using the word “suddenly”. About half the time the word “sudden” is used, the action wasn’t very sudden at all.

EDITING EXERCISE: Search on the words “Start”, “Begin”, “Final”, “Sudden”, and “Eventual” in your present work-in-progress (WIP) (this search will also return the words ending in “-ly” and “-ing”). How close together do these appear in your document?

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