My novella is nearing completion. This morning I continued with final edits, working through my own noticings, beta reader feedback and automated suggestions. Fortunately, the novella—itself around twenty thousand words—is chunked into small segments of a couple hundred words each. I struggle with the discipline required for editing. This setup helps. A lot.
I’ve completed five to ten percent of the segments so far. Within each segment there has been one simple improvement that offers a large, no strings attached payoff. Autocrit—my preferred machine editor—includes a function that highlights adverbs. I delete them. That’s it. That’s the play. Detect adverb; kill. Instant gain.
This got me thinking: are there equals to adverbs in other disciplines or activities? Manoeuvres that are:
- So simple they’re considered effortless
- So non-disruptive to the parent activity or artefact that they compel no extra work
- So powerful that they offer instant, reliable improvement
The one that comes to mind is swapping “umm” and “ahh” in speech for silence—though it could be argued this fails on the first criteria. It doesn’t fail on the second and third.
Quick contemplation of some domains I’m closer to—writing, product management and computing, for example—don’t reveal any obvious others. But it’s reasonable to think they exist. What are they?