EXERCISE THE RED PEN
Hello. Happy Saturday. Today I would like to talk about tightening. What I mean by tightening is getting rid of unnecessary words in your writing.
This is something I still struggle with. I am naturally a wordy person in speech and writing. Whether I’m telling a friend about a funny incident or writing about what my characters are doing, I like to add a ton of detail—set the stage.
I have learned this habit bogs down my writing. The excess clutter slows the pace, making it hard for readers to slog through.
Tightening your sentences for flow can really make your story shine. Think of it as spring cleaning for your MS.
Look for wordy sentences and try cutting back. You will be surprised how fewer words can still relay the same information. Also, this will cut back on redundancy.
Here is an example of a wordy sentence. John turned to her and stared into her eyes as he lifted a hand to touch her cheek, but thought better of it and dropped it to his side. His heart and soul ached for the contact, but if he touched her, just once, he’d be lost.
LOL, okay, most wordiness isn’t this obvious, but you get the idea. There are too many stage directions. Allow the reader to use part of their imagination.
Here is a suggested quick fix: John turned to her. He wanted—needed—to touch her pale cheek. His hand lifted, but it fell to his side. If he touched her just once, he’d be lost.
Redundancy is a form of wordiness. It is using words to say what you have already said.
Example: He crept slowly across the floor, past the crowd, silently trying to remain unseen by the horde of people.
Here is an example of how I would fix this sentence: He crept past the crowd of people, staying out of sight.
Crept for me shows he is sneaking by, trying not to be seen. And if one is trying not to be seen, then it is a safe bet the person would be doing so silently. Not stomping like an elephant. Also, crowd and horde mean the same thing. No need for both. It is redundant and just clutter.
Another way to cut down on wordiness is to use contractions whenever possible. The use of contractions also can make the voice of your characters seem closer to real speech.
John cupped her cheek. “I do not care what happened in your past.”
John cupped her cheek. “I don’t care what happened in your past.”
“I will not go with you.”
“I won’t go with you.”
I hope this helped. Until next week, happy writing.