Clean Copy

So, by now your copy is in great shape – or it should be! And this isn’t just about the story itself…

It is good practice to keep a ‘clean copy’ when writing and how you achieve this is by consciously writing to certain rules, with regards punctuation and grammar. You also need to ensure that your writing is tight and you are not going off on tangents.

The use of synonyms can be the difference between repetitive and lively prose and it can be very helpful, even when you are midway through writing your story, to take a few minutes out to sharpen your mind with short exercises.

At the end of this lesson, through your next set of exercises, you will work on your synonyms as well as test your ability to list opposites. This will keep your writing mind on its toes!

So, synonyms…
The need to use a particular word regularly is commonplace when writing about something specific. In order, however, to avoid sounding repetitive and stinting the flow of your story, look to synonyms and the pace within your copy will not be adversely affected.

Synonyms are alternative words that have a similar or related meaning. Here are some examples...
FIGHT: Argument/brawl
NAUGHTY: Disobedient/bold
NICE: Enjoyable/pleasant

Let’s take the first example and use it to create a scene...
The fight broke out on a cold and windy evening. Everyone agreed that it was John’s fault. They said he was looking for a fight all night. His final punch was so hard that he knocked Joseph out and the messy fight came to an end.

Now, let’s use the word fight less by replacing it with a word that has similar meaning.
The fight broke out on a cold and windy evening. Everyone agreed that it was John’s fault. They said he was looking for an argument all night. His final punch was so hard that he knocked Joseph out and the messy brawl came to an end.

In the first instance you can see how repetitive use of a word can become monotonous and difficult to read. In the second, however, you can see how the use of synonyms immediately diffuses the original vibe and ensures cleaner copy and a much easier reading experience.

CHECKLIST
Everyone has a different process when writing. Some like to write from start to finish without looking back, while others like to take care of their copy as they go.

In the end, a cleaner copy will make for an easier editing and proofing experience.

So, before we get to next week’s conclusion writing, editing and proofing, take a look at the following pointers when reviewing your copy at this stage…

1) Question and exclamation marks: Have you used them correctly? There is no need for more than one to be used at any time. Using three exclamation marks does not add any weight to the statement!

2) Direct quotes: When writing speech it is good practice to start the next person’s quote on a separate line. Do not run different character’s quotes into one huge paragraph.

3) Chapters: Remember, there are no chapters in a short story.

4) Paragraphs: Have you made sure that you are using them? Paragraphs make for an easier reading experience and enhance pace and flow.

5) Spelling: Text language in particular – do not use it unless it is a text you are writing about!

6) Abbreviations: Do not abbreviate words unless it is in conversation. For example: ’till instead of until.

7) Tense: Make sure you are not switching between past and present.

8) Dialogue:Do not rely solely on dialogue to tell your story. It is important to use description and scene setting also.

9) Your title: Have you chosen it? For some of you, it will occur to you as you write – others will have to mull it over. Don’t worry though – you will get there!

EXERCISES
To practice your synonyms go to Week 3/Exercise Sheet 1 and to test your knowledge on opposites download Week 3/Exercise Sheet 2.
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