Does Your Story Need a Trim?

Yes, yes it does. We writers love the words we produce—a little too much. Sometimes our descriptions go on way too long. Scenes and dialogues may be well written, but sometimes they don’t have any relevance to the plot.

20170822_142035 (1)

Everything you write should move the story forward. Maybe you think your long description with its luscious words will impress the reader. But maybe all it does is slow down the action.

Put your manuscript away. Pull it out one, two, or maybe four weeks later. Are there any parts you gloss over to get to the next piece of action? Are there any paragraphs you read twice because when you get to the end, you have no idea what the point is? Do you notice long paragraphs that turn out to be one long, for-the-love-of-god-please-end-now-before-I-pass-out sentence? Do any descriptions or metaphors seem a little forced? Confusing? Weird?

Search your manuscript for needless words:

  • very
  • just
  • really
  • basically
  • the fact that
  • definitely
  • actually
  • that

The list goes on. Many of us use particular words while writing because that’s how we talk, but if you can take these words out of your sentences without losing the meaning, kiss ’em goodbye.

Some couples need to break up and stay single:

free gift

merge together

reconsider again

fiction novel

equal to each other

true fact

unexpected surprise

I love to slice and dice words, sentences, paragraphs, even whole chapters. To me, it’s like losing weight without having to diet or exercise. I do feel lighter.

But I know not everyone feels that way. Ever see those makeover shows on TV? Sometimes a woman will weep as the hairdresser snips away at her monstrous mane. Editing your precious words may seem like that. But like hair, words can grow back. Track your changes in Word or save a copy of the original.

Chances are, you’ll fall in love with the tighter, sharper version of your story, and you’ll never look back.

For a closer look at your manuscript, visit I Spy Edits.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s