empowering young writers online


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Get rid of the clutter

Remove unnecessary words and phrases in the following paragraphs. Look for repeating points, awkward sentences, strings of adjectives and telling adverbs. Then compare your leaner version with the one that’s here. Which would you rather read?

A loud, booming voice called out from the very edge of the forest. “It’s all good,” the voice called out loudly. “I’m all right.”

It was not Connor. It was Derek. And his hands were empty. There was nothing in them.

Ignoring the wildly intense pain in her throbbing foot, Regan quickly ran up to meet him. “Where’s Connor?” she asked Derek.

“Jeez, Regan,” Derek said darkly. “Thanks for being so concerned about me.”

Regan was mad. She glared at Derek. “You said you were fine,” she growled. “Where’s Connor?”

Derek shrugged. He said, “I don’t know.” He looked over his shoulder as if Connor might be there, right behind him. “The last time I saw him was when he was lifting Noelle onto his shoulder. Man, she was scared and terrified. I’ve never seen anyone fall apart like that.”

“Well, that’s just great, isn’t it?” Regan snarled. Regan kicked at a clump of grass. She was so upset. It was too late when she realized she’d used her aching, injured foot. Terrible pain scooted in and out of all the anger inside her, a percolating, boiling volcano. How did Connor expect to be two places at once? There was no way he could be two places at once. How could he receive the book if he was busy saving stupid, dumb Noelle? Why did he always insist on being her hero over and over and over again?

Regan could have pulled every single strand of his black, wavy hair right out of his head. But he wasn’t here because he was somewhere else. So all she could do was turn all that anger toward the next person most deserving of it. That person was Derek.


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