Notice the time on this post? I try not to blog this late in the afternoon because it makes the posts more difficult to find. Unfortunately...I'm de-fragging my desk top computer and its taking 3 days. Hopefully my writing skills are not as full of garbage as my computer is. But there's my point.
No matter how talented you are as a writer, there is fragments of trash hidden, or obvious, in your manuscript. Its the hardest part of an edit to figure out what garbage you're leaving in because you think its important and what should be tossed out.
Thanks to some great advice from Writers Digestand other helpful writing sites,, Here's what I learned.
1. do a find for words like: was, walk, ran, saw, heard, felt, and knew. Tell your reader what the character felt, heard, saw, etc. instead of telling the reader the character did it.
2. Any sentence with more than one adjective or adverb needs to be trimmed down to the most powerful single descriptor.
3. Change verbs to action verbs; there's a difference--walk: strode, stalked, stomped...
-run: jog, speed, race...
-cried: sobbed, choked, screamed...Here's an example-
With Fragments: " Lilian walked into her small, yellow kitchen with the gray tile and white countertops. The lump in her throat felt like it was made from glass. She sat at the round, wooden table and cried her eyes out."
De-fragged- "Lilian stomped into her tiny kitchen. The yellow wall paper did nothing to soften the jagged lump in her throat, or hold back her brimming tears. Her hands pressed into the cool marble countertops until her knuckles matched the white stone. Sinking into a creaking chair, she dropped her head onto the rough surface of the table and sobbed."
It uses more words, sometimes good and sometimes bad, but effective. It makes the action more powerful. It keeps the movement flowing. The little fragments sneak in when we're writing rough drafts or working on WIP's but if you can program yourself to catch the fragments in your everyday writing...the De-fragging won't take three days instead of three hours.
In the meantime, keep writing and reading and de-frag every chance you get.