Kicking Butt

Water butt

I’ve just spent the weekend going over the edits for the third Poppy and Amelia adventure. My editor, Jan Edwards has been very rigorous and pointed out a number of discrepancies, where I might have said something then contradicted myself on the next page, or even in the next paragraph!

There have also been examples of clumsily written sentences, which she made run more smoothly and easily.

And of course there has been the over used word.

In this case my verbal tick is the over use of BUT.

Jan suggested to a run a search on it and to my horror the dreaded word came up over three hundred and twenty times. So now I’m working my way through the book and eliminating as many of them as I can. Some of course are necessary. Those I’ve used as conjunctions and in dialogue, but in many cases getting rid of a BUT at the beginning of a sentence makes the sentence stronger and the writing tighter. I know this, so why do I do it?

It is partly to do with the way the book is written. Aimed at a middle-grade, eight to twelve year old readership, the action is fast and the vocabulary relatively simple as much of the story is viewed through the main characters’ eyes.

I also want to book to be easy to read out loud and to have a colloquial feel to it. Hence the ticks we use in speech like the infamous BUT.

The other reason I haven’t weeded it out, is because however many times you go through a manuscript you always miss something, especially the small not important words. Previous to my BUTING I had a thing about JUST, another potential non-word which kept cropping up where it wasn’t wanted, or needed.

Because I knew about it, however, I always ran it through a word search when I finished an edit and kept an eye out while I was writing.

From the amount of work left to do on Poppy and Amelia Three, it looks like I’m going to have to do the same with BUT in the future.


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