6 editing tips from ‘Atomic Blonde’

The espionage thriller offers important lessons that wordsmiths can use to create clean and compelling copy.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

“Atomic Blonde’s” agent Lorraine Broughton takes no prisoners—just like good editors.

Though both are ruthless, Broughton (played by Charlize Theron) has a different mission from that of editors, who look to produce clean, accurate copy at all costs.

I don’t want to make an editor work that hard, so I’m tough on myself before I turn in copy. You can do the same by following this checklist (nunchucks not included):

1. Use verbs that pack a punch.

For your first draft, don’t worry about verbs—just get your ideas down. When you proofread your content, review verbs. Find as many alternatives to “is” and “are” as you can.

Don’t turn decent sentences into pretzels, but realize that “to be” doesn’t describe action—and therefore, lacks muscle. Instead, opt for strong verbs, such as “pack,” kick” and “kill.”

2. Stop repeating yourself.

In an “Atomic Blonde” fight scene, Broughton dispatches her adversaries with everything from a garden hose and a pot to a freezer door. The same scene as a series of right hooks, repeated over and over, would be dull.

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.