Self Editing for Fiction #9 ~ Sophistication

This post by Stef Mcdaid originally appeared on WriteIntoPrint in October of 2014.

Sliding off of his bunk, Richard slipped on a dirty T-shirt that lay on the floor and hastily acquired a fresh pair of boxer shorts from his bedside table before circumnavigating the accumulated piles of junk strewn all over his bedroom floor to find out who the f*ck was bothering him at this ungodly hour. Ricky was not the tidiest of people, and certainly not a morning person.
As he looked at his Rolex Cosmograph Daytona wristwatch, he went into the kitchen and splashed some water over his pounding head. If only that f*cking jerk would stop ringing the doorbell! he thought.

This passage I cobbled together contains quite a few style sins. I will list them in order.


‘as’ and ‘-ing’ constructions: starting too many sentences with these is nowadays regarded as hack writing by some industry professionals – plus, the simultaneity they sometimes suggest makes many of them technically impossible. In the first sentence Richard dons a T-shirt and rummages in his bedside table *at the same time* as he slides off his bunk. Similarly, in the second paragraph he’s looking at his wristwatch all the while he’s going to the kitchen and splashing water over his head. There are, of course, instances where they are suitable, but be careful not to overdo their use, and look out for simultaneity paradoxes.


Word order:


Read the full post on Write Into Print.