How to Edit Your Story | Julia Gousseva | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (23m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Tip #1: Use dense words

    • 3. Tip #2: Use strong verbs

    • 4. Tip #3: Use strong nouns

    • 5. Tip #4: Show, don't tell

    • 6. Tip #5: Be specific

    • 7. Tip #6: Delete filler words

    • 8. Conclusion

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About This Class

Do you want to write clearly and concisely? Do you want to keep your readers’ interest? Do you want to get good grades on school papers or impress your employer?

Take this short course and learn six quick and easy ways to clean up your prose, get rid of filler words, eliminate redundancies, and express your thoughts effectively.

Try it!  You will like the results, and so will your readers.

Meet Your Teacher

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Julia Gousseva

Writer, Creative Writing Teacher


Julia Gousseva

Writer, Creative Writing Teacher

How to Write an Original Short Story

Have you always wanted to write fiction but don’t know where to start? Have you started writing but got stuck and don’t know how to finish? Do you have ideas but find it hard to develop them into a complete story that makes sense? Or do you experience writer's block, get stuck, and lose motivation?

If you have experienced any of these problems or if you simply want a clear and specific way to develop your idea into a story, you’re in the right place.
This course will present an approach to writing stories that I have developed over a number of years and refined with my students in face-to-face classes.

This approach is a step... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi. Welcome to the class on quick and easy editing tips. My name is Julia Cassava, and they have been teaching college level writing for many years, and they've been the creative writer myself for probably more years than that, Stephen King once said. When you write a book, you spend day after they scanning and identifying the trees. When you're done, you have to step back and look at the forest. And that's great advice. We need to look at our stories with a sense of perspective. We need to daily what works and what doesn't and improve all the weak spots there different ways to do it. And in this class, the look at using dance words will look at using strong 1000 birds being specific and Gilliland showing more than filling. All these changes will help in Clarence it to your texts and make the more engaging with the leaders. Your project for this class is you guessed that it will be anything they get patron off text from any kind of writing. It could be your writing or it could be taken from Block post or website or magazine article. The most efficient way to edit is Teoh. Copy it into a word processing document and focus on one issue at the time. As you go through the different lessons in this class, I'd love to see what you come up with. Lee share your end of the text with the class in the project gallery and now let's get started. 2. Tip #1: Use dense words: All right, So now I guess you have your text in front of you. Write the one you're going to edit and the best thing to do is to edit as we go through all those different tips. So don't leave it the land, but it it one thing at a time when tip at the time. But before we do that, let's set some goals. Sometimes one of evident class must And I ask my students, What are you trying to accomplish? They say, Well, I just want to make it better. And when asking more specifically, what are you trying to dio? Sometimes they say, Well, I want to improve my character development and dialogue and and grammar and punctuation and and that's not gonna work. That's too many things at once. It's not focused enough, and it's difficult to dio and it doesn't get you very good results. So let's try to set the specific goal for this lesson and then see how we can accomplish it . And it's nice to have something very deep on inspirational, right? So why don't we'll take a look at this sentence by Friedrich Nature? It is my ambition to say in 10 sentences. What others say in the whole book? Quite the lofty goal, isn't it? But I think it's a good the think of it is a mission statement for this lesson. But what does he mean by that? Well, I think what he's trying to tell us is that he would like to get to the point, and that's what we should be doing. Another thing we should be doing in our writing is not waste words and not waste our leaders time. So those are more specific, right? So have those goals. Now let's see what we can do to accomplish them. So that brings us to tip number one used thence words and you may be asking, Well, what does it mean? The use? Dense words. What are these dance words? Let's define them as words that pack a lot of meaning in the small space, so you don't have to put a lot of fluff in your papers and your essays in your stories. Use fewer words, but use words that have more meaning. Let's take a look at some examples. If you want to say people I didn't know, how else can you say it. Can you think of one word? I bet you can. Strangers, right? That works. It's the same meaning, but it's your words. Or how about things that was thinking and feeling That's kind of long, right? Can the make it shorter? I bet we can. Thoughts and feelings something impossible to imagine is unimaginable, and something that happens once a year is yearly. All right, So with this idea of trying to use dense words, why don't you take a look at your text and see if you can go through it and find places where you using too many words and where you can replace them with one or just a couple of words? So go ahead and try it, and then we'll move on to tip number two. 3. Tip #2: Use strong verbs: all right. So hopefully your first attempt that everything was good and and you managed to make some of your words a stronger and denser. So now let's take a look at tip number two, which is used strong verbs. And, by the way, don't take these suggestions as laws or rules or things that you always have to dio. I'm looking at this practices and suggestions, so of course, there exceptions. But what I'm talking about are things that tend to make your writing feel more sluggish and not as engaging as it could be. Rights again not laws, but suggestions, ideas and tendencies. So let's take a look at what what you can do to make your verbs stronger. The 1st 1 is get rid of the verb to be in all those different forms. The 2nd 1 is make your other verbs more specific, and the last one is don't alone adverbs to describe your verbs. So those are three goals for this part of the lesson for this tip. And let's take a look at some examples and see what you can do to improve your text, starting with the 1st 1 So getting rid of the verb to be. Let's take a look. All right, So you see my first sentence, right? It has two instances off the verb to be And what the verb to be does is just the indicate location. That's all it does. We don't have any description here. So, for example, what if you wanted to show the height off the grandfather clock? You want to show its true? A tall is the reverb that you could use to describe the tall nous that height and also to indicate location I think there is one will take a look in a minute. And the same thing with the books were just in the kids location for the stack toe horizontally where they lined up vertically where they scattered around. We can't quite imagine it. And if we can't imagine that the readers are not as engaged a ziff, we make it more specific. So how about if we devise it this way? We're going to use, towered and lay so towered indicates location like the verb to be like waas right? And it also shows height and lay shows us that the books were horizontal, so you can pretty easily imagine it or it makes sense. Let's take a look with another example. I am being treated well while I managed to put two examples of the verb to be in a short sentence. Not very good, right? So let's start by getting rid of being That's very easy. I am through that well and maybe that's okay. Maybe that will work for your text. But if you really wanted to get through the this verb as well, you could replace it in a different way. You could change the passive structure to more active structure. They treat me well, right? Okay. One more example. She is watching and skids on Fridays. We have that is there that we really need it. And if you're trying to show kind of the length of the action, the process, maybe you do need is watching. But in many cases, you don't. So maybe is just as good to say She watches and skids on Fridays, right? That makes sense. So all of these examples again, we're trying to get through the verb to be so we can replace it with a verb that has the meaning of the verb to be. But also makes it more descriptive and more specific in shorter. In some cases, like in this last example, All right, moving on to the next minute. Make your verbs more specific. Did you look at something? By the way, look is one of those verbs that beginning writers tend to use a lot because it's easy. It's the first thing that comes to mind, but it's not very descriptive. Take a look, stare gay, speak GAC, and we can continue the list. All of this express the meaning off look, but also they describe it. Staring is very different than Peking, and of course you know the differences. So when you're looking at your story about your text and somebody is looking at something, how are they looking? And maybe one of those verbs could work better than that look. Or did you throw something throw? It shows an actual right. It's okay, but maybe we can make it better. Can we make it more descriptive? Dos flu pearl. Very different actions here, and they show an attitude. So just using one of these verbs could help you describe your character, a character that tosses their back back in the back of the car is very different than somebody who hurls it right. Or maybe they're in a different mood. So lots of things you can do just by changing verbs in your stories Walk. That's another one of those verbs. Very easy. We we walk all the time, right? So we're gonna use the verb walk in our stories, but maybe we can do something a little bit more interesting. Hubble, Rush, Hurry, Skip, And you can come up with other examples as well. And you know, it's okay to use a thesaurus. I'm not saying, you know, open at the source and find the word you've never seen and use it. But sometimes maybe the word Hubbell didn't come to mind. And when you look at the thesaurus, you're going to find those words. And it'll be easier for you to come up with these different descriptive ways to talk about your characters. All right, going on with the idea of using strong verbs. We're going talk about adverbs. Sometimes adverbs are OK, but in many cases you don't need adverbs or you don't need as many adverbs as you have. Let's take a look. If you're saying look quickly, quickly is an adverb. Can you use one word? One verb to describe it? How about And I know you know the answer. How about glands or talk loudly. Somebody's talking. Lollis, What are they doing? Maybe they're yelling. Maybe they're shouting again. You're using one verb instead of two words instead of urban an adverb. See quietly. So what does that mean? Maybe whisper Walk softly. Maybe a tiptoe makes sense. All right, so now why don't you guys go ahead and go back to your text and see if you can edit your text with a focus on verbs, Just verbs. So again, the verb to be see if you can get rid of it. See if he can use verbs that have descriptions, kind of built into them and see if you can get rid of some of the adverbs and then we'll go back to the next tip. 4. Tip #3: Use strong nouns: all right. Moving on to tip number three. Use strong downs. So what does that mean? What kind of knowns are these? Let's define them. Is now that are specific, precise and densely packed with information. So again, we're trying to go with that same idea off, using fewer words and getting to the point quicker and not wasting our readers time. So if you want to say in your story, there was a black dog. It's kind of general, right? What's the black dog? Is that the poodle? Is it something else? What are you imagining? Your readers need to know exactly what you're talking about so they can follow the story and stay engaged. So instead of the black dog, you could say a Doberman, right? Or maybe a poodle. A black poodle. So you decide. But it has to be specific. Was it the large house, or can they make it more specific? I bet you can. Maybe a mansion. Right. Let's take a look at the sentence. A man entered the room. A man. So what do you imagine? And if I wrote that sentence in the story, you can imagine whatever you want is a reader, and that's not a good thing because you won't be able to follow my story because that's not probably demand that I'm thinking about. So let's say I'm thinking about a priest and I bet that's not what you're thinking about. Or maybe I meant a senator and those of your different images already. The sentence, right? The priest comes into the room or a senator. Or how about Alice Iranian? Why not something very different, kind of exotic, or maybe even an ex senator? Lithuanian priest. A little too much. Maybe a little too much, but you get the easier. So why don't you go back to your text now and see if you can focus, announce and do your anything, just pronounce and then we'll go back and we'll move on to the next step. I'll see what the next step 5. Tip #4: Show, don't tell: all right. Moving on to tip number four show. Don't tell. And I'm sure you heard this advised before. Maybe from teachers and in your school that will tell you you need to be showing more. You're telling too much. I know I've heard that advice to, but somehow when I was in school, I didn't quite understand it. So I'm gonna try to explain it to you in a way that's easy and in the way That's very specific again. So let's start with a little definition they could look and let's think about what does that mean, letting the readers experience the moment for themselves? So, for example, if I told you I went to the mountains and the mountains were beautiful, beautiful is a problem because I'm not explaining. I'm not describing what I mean by beautiful. So you could be imagining. Beautiful is maybe snowcapped mountains, and maybe we're all bundled up. We're skiing and then drinking hot chocolate in the little cafe. So it's beautiful or somebody else might be thinking about beautiful to me means something different. Maybe they're imagining Hawaii or maybe the Caribbean, and we're hiking and they're tropical flowers around us. and there waterfalls and it's hot and we're drinking pina coladas on the beach and beautiful censored in the evening. So that's also beautiful, right? But that's were different. Tropical Paradies versus a skiing resort. Very different concepts were different descriptions. Your readers need to know exactly where you are and they need. You need to show them this moment, not just tell them it was beautiful. So let's do a little exercise was showing and look dealing. Let's take a look at this little description, and you probably can see that this description is very heavy on telling Terrific athlete. What does that mean? Is he an Olympian? Is Was he in varsity football in high school? Does he just, I don't know around around the couch before he hits the next donor. What's a terrific athlete? It depends on what you imagine incredibly smart again. What does that mean? He figured out how to connect my computer to the monitor or he, uh, to calculus and middle school not specifically, no descriptive were telling, not showing. So here's what I suggest we dio. Why don't you pause the video right here and then see if you can revise this description to include more showing. Make it more specific, make it finding. Make it silly, and then you can post that in the project area of this class, and it'll be fun to see what other people have done. And when you're ready, you can come back and then you can look at my example. So I'm going to give you a second to pause this video if you need Teoh and then I'll show you my example. All right. Are you ready? Here's my example. So I tried to describe him more. I tried to show what it means by a terrific athlete by saying Ran five miles to my cabin in the middle of that snow storm last week. Right? So it's my definition of a terrific athlete and then incredibly smart. All the five different languages would indicate that. And, of course, maybe he's bluffing, right? Maybe that's all he can see in those five languages, but he fooled me, sentimental while the standing of the slow and shouting probably sentimental and also sort of stranger. It's with covers of both. So again, looking at these two paragraphs, the second description is much more specific. You can imagine Arnold much better than in the first example, so that's showing versus telling. So now if you want to go to your text and find examples of telling in the text and make them into showing that will be great and then come back and then we'll go to the next step . 6. Tip #5: Be specific: all right. Moving on to tip number five. Be specific. So our goal here is to use specific but brief details. Let's take a look at a few examples. The first sentence. Various ethnic groups. What does that mean? What kind of ethnic groups? If you are writing this essay or this story, you definitely know what you mean. So you could make it more specific. Name them all right. Much better. And it's easy to do, right? Um, they're easy to do. Let's take a look at another example. This is one of those nothing sentences. It feels like it's saying something, but we start the trying to understand it, and there's nothing specific. Some time ago, when was that a public official? What kind of official? A serious crime. What kind of crime? Let's revise it All right. Much better, right? Much clearer. Let's take a look at another example. There are many reasons why Bobby failed the class. Well, a couple of problems here. One is we're not listing those reasons, so we're not being specific and we're using a lazy opener. There are there Are there is, I would say, try to avoid those openers because they're too generic were to use to them. Readers get bored reading there are so we could start with Bobby and then we could name those reasons. Let's take a look. Bobby failed the class because he always came late and never did his homework. So that's much better, right? They get much, much more specific. So what I'd like you to do now is again go back to your text and see if there any any places there that are kind of vague that the, um, could use some more specificity where you could name those details like I did here and then come back and we'll do the last step. 7. Tip #6: Delete filler words: tip number six is to delete filler words. That's one of the easiest steps. And I think it's my favorite one because you can see the changes in the U. S. And your story as soon as you delete those filler words right away. So what are they there? They'll boarding meaningless words that we put in to fill space because we can think of a better word or because we're just so used to them, we don't even notice we're using them. Let's take a look at some examples. I bet you can recognize some of these guys. Actually, Have you ever used that one? I bet you you have war really more very. And think a look at some others. Some of used these words, right? They don't enhance her. Meaning they don't make are writing more interesting. They don't add anything except for the word count. And, of course, for my students, sometimes that that's what they need. So they start adding these things, and I always tell him you're not going to make your readers more interested in your text by adding these words, so So don't just just take them out. You have interesting ideas you have, Ah, interesting points. Something to share with your readers. These words are not it. Don't let them obscure your points. Don't let them take over your writing and it feels like a beautiful garden filled with weeds. So take out those weeds and that's my suggestion to you to you have your text, right? The one you've been anything. So your last step in this lesson for anything that text is to go through it and find all those filler words. And I'd like you to think about our goal again before you do that. So let's take a look at one more slide here. A beautiful quote, isn't it? Take a look. So what you're trying to do is get to that fire to those ideas to those points you're trying to convey and get rid of the smoke of all those filler wars of all those weeds. And then you will be successful. All right, I look forward to reading your device tucks in the project area 8. Conclusion: congratulations. You finish the class and now you know a few quick and these a n think tips. I hope it was helpful. And I look forward to seeing your project in the project gallery. And by the way, if you have any other that short paragraph about are not from tip number four, our police posted in the project area, it'll be fun to see.