• Happy Writer Editing Advice Stop Characters Looking Staring Gazing
    For Writers

    How to Make Your Characters Stop Looking At Everything

    Happy Writer Editing Advice Stop Characters Looking Staring Gazing

    Hello again, all you happy writers (and editors) out there! As I’m still knee-deep in edits (or neck-deep, or–when exactly am I certifiably drowning?), I’d like to address a problem I’ve been working on with today’s chapter revisions — the dreaded (and constant) use of the phrase “looked at”.

    You’re probably familiar with the problem. You picture your scene like a movie playing out in your head, and find yourself inserting “stage directions” into your writing. As each new development occurs, characters swivel around to look at the person speaking, to stare indignantly at their rival, to gaze up at the source of a sound, to glance at a plot point. It all sounded good in your head as you were writing it down, but now that you’re reading the scene over again, the words looked and gazedglanced and stared appear in almost every. single. sentence. What do you do? How do you keep your characters from constantly looking and staring and glancing and turning towards each other?

  • For Writers

    Clean Up Your Draft By Eliminating Crutch Words

    Today we’re tackling crutch words.

    A quick and easy editing tip you see all over the internet is to eliminate crutch words like “was”, “had”, and “that” from your writing. These words sneak into your writing and take the place of stronger, more exciting verbs. Basically, they detach the reader from the action of the sentence; eliminating them creates more intimacy and immediacy in your writing.

    After I’ve churned out my first draft, I’ll do a Find-and-Replace in my document that bolds each occurrence of whatever crutch word I’m currently battling: usually was, had, that or just. Then I’ll print the document out, take it outside, and attack, tweaking and snipping and scouring each sentence until I’ve rid myself of as many of these pesky pests as possible.

    Practical Application: The Elimination of “Was”

    In this particular scene I’m showing you today, my mission was to study every instance of “was” in my writing and decide how I could best eliminate it, making my writing clearer and more creative. Setting yourself specific tasks like this can jumpstart creativity during editing sessions: giving yourself a problem to solve, a restriction in which to work in, forces your brain into action. (A great tip for if you’ve been stuck staring at your Word document for hours, idly scrolling, occasionally making vague grunts.)

    Okay. This is the beginning of a chapter in the second book of my fantasy WIP. A supernatural disaster hits the town while my characters are sleeping, trapping them in their dreams; in nightmares of their own creation. It’s rough, and silly, and stop looking at me okay?? Anyway. cracks knuckles


    Charley was dreaming he was back in the bar, dancing with the girl from that night.

    So my MC is having a dream. This sentence is weak, relying on “was” for two of its verbs. Here’s what I replaced it with:


    His dreams took Charley back to the Brew House, into the arms of the woman he’d danced with earlier that evening.

    Easy enough elimination, serviceable for our purposes!