Editing My Old Writing.

Reading Old Stories.png

Back Story

A few weeks ago the drive on the desk top failed. When that happened I thought I should back up my writing files, because I’ve written a lot this past year.

Always backup your files! Go do it now!

While I searched for a thumb drive I found some old LOTR Fan Fiction from 05-06. If you want to hear me reading it you can watch the video at the end of this post. I thought it would be an interesting exercise to edit it.

The mistakes I made are all common mistakes new writers make, but you may not realize it until it is pointed out.


Developmental: You ALWAYS do this editing first! Don’t skip it.

However for the purposes of this post we are. The scene is question should be cut because nothing happens.  However it can still provide good examples for copyedits.

Let the CRINGE begin.

I’m doing an quick run though of what jumps out for me after a read through. IF you catch something, post it in a comment. You might see something I miss, and it can help another writer.


Cielle walked along the beach, leaving tiny footprints upon the wet gritty sand. She kicked up the waves as they came crashing to her feet, trying to catch the little cool crystal drops within her delicate petite hands, before they fell and dissipated back into the earth. Her gaze looked out at the horizon, as the sun began to set turning the normally pure white flurry clouds into magnificent shades of red, orange, and yellow.

  • Leaving is in the gerund, which make is a noun and weaker. You could keep the dependent clause but make it stronger by using a verb instead.
    EG tiny footprints trailed in the gritty sand.
  • Trying is a filler word. We use them when we speak to fill silence, but they add nothing to your story.
  • To many ADJ. Drops are small, and water is cool.  Crystal isn’t a good description because it’s talking about the physical appearance. If you are going to describe something evoke other senses.
    EG salty drops.
  • A gaze involves looking, having both is redundant.
  • When is the last time you spent time looking at the sun, weather, or nature? It isn’t something that people look at, because it isn’t important.  Unless it was summer and then it randomly started snowing, don’t open a book with weather, nature, or sun.

She paused for a moment and looked back, following the trail of tiny impression that led back to her house, making sure that no one was watching her. The little girl knew that her mother didn’t like her wandering close to the water by herself, but she wanted to hear a story. The cave was only a few yards away. She smiled mischievously and let her feet sprint away, racing across the russet colored sand.

  • Paused for moment is a filler that pulls the reader out of a story and should be cut.
  • Following and making – follow the same gerund problem as mentioned above
  • was is a weak verb. Stood is better
  • only is an adverb that doesn’t add anything to the writing
  • smiled mischievously = verb adverb combos are bad.  choose a better verb. eg smirked.
  • russet is a color, and don’t need to say so.

She slowed down as she reached the cliff side and began jumping and climbing over jagged rocks. Finally, the hole was spotted, gingerly putting her small feet in first, she ducked down through the small narrow passage. Cautiously she crouched down and escaped the opening, to her dismay however the cave was empty.

  • Down and Up are words that are implied. They are filler words we use when speaking that aren’t needed in writing, because they are redundant.
  • Began and started are also filler words we use when speaking. Whatever you write is what and when your character does something.  You don’t need to tell your reader.
  • Finally is an adverb that adds nothing to stories. Likewise suddenly will be used to add suspense, when all it does is break it. I know something is coming if the sentence begins with suddenly and it kills the surprise.
  • was spotted – is passive. She spotted the hole – is better.
  • Gingerly putting is a horrible combination. In this situation it would have been better to describe and show how she is going into the hole.
    EG She tucked her arms close to her chest, arched her feet against the rock and shimmied into the cave.
    That shows that the passage is small and implies she needs to be careful, without saying so
  • Dismay is an emotion, you should always describe emotions

            “I wonder where he is,” she pondered, straining to see further into the gloomy damp chasm?

“Who is it that you are looking for my little Cielle,” asked an astute masculine voice?

Cielle spun around, “Dofdof, Where are you?” She questioned as she looked out and saw nothing but the vast ocean.

“Over here,” He said popping up his head and waving a hand.

  • Dialog tags is a matter of opinion. Your dialog should carry it’s self.  IF you put anything after dialog it should be descriptive body language to convey emotion. Anything else is going to drag your story, and probably isn’t important information.
    IF you only have two characters speaking you don’t even need any tags.
  • The things in Italics I discussed above.
  • To see further is weak and creates a separation between readers. To see, hear, etc remove the reader from the story.  It’s better to describe these scene to bring the read in.
  • I’m telling that the voice is male, instead of showing.  While the reader knows who she is looking for, we don’t know who the person is. So describing the voice would make sense. If you could do it while evoking sensory description even better. sweet, scratchy etc.

Her ears followed the sound, looking over, she caught sight of elderly waving fingers peeping over an immense boulder.

  •    There is so much wrong with this sentence.
    She scanned the beach and saw fingers waving above the rocks.

Take Away

You’re writing sucks.  If that hurts, you will need to get over that if you want to be a writer.  Take comfort in knowing you are not alone.

When I wrote this story I was 19, and I thought it was the greatest. At the time it was the best I could do. Now the best I can do is better.  I hope 10 years from now, that I will have improved even more.

Don’t aim for perfection, because you’re never going to get there. That is the most difficult lesson I’ve learned.

I want to write well enough to convince people that the fictional characters in my head are real. If one person will connect and cry for them when they die, or cheer when they succeed, then I will be happy.


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One thought on “Editing My Old Writing.

  1. Wow, You’re a *harsh* self-critic! And I’m really impressed at how far you’ve come. Your writing was always pretty damned good, and that analysis is only making it stronger. You’ve got an incredibly mature attitude about this! 👍

    Liked by 1 person

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