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Sunday, 22 January 2017

Shedding Words

Frosty Morning 

How do you shed the fat? Those unnecessary words that add nothing to your story. I thought I'd share my top 5 tips with you.
  1. Passive Voice - Should be avoided, try making sentences stronger by going through your work and removing it was, there was, was, is, it and ing words wherever you can.  
  2. Big Words - Don't use two or three when one word will do. And don't use complicated words. It only annoys the reader. Wasn't it Oscar Wilde that said - Don't use big words. They mean so little. 
  3. Speech Tags  - Said and asked are really all you need once the reader knows who the characters speaking are, no need to add names every time. Get rid of verbs like explained, answered and quizzed. You don't need them. 
  4. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat - Don't do it! Unless of course you're adding new material, and not rehashing what you've already said. I'm terrible for this one. Reading your work aloud helps identify repetitive words. Or better still, record yourself reading a scene, then play it back. You might cringe a few times, but you'll pick up where you've repeated. 
  5. Back Story - Do you really need it? If you can avoid chunks of lengthy narrative, your story will be all the better for it. Perhaps a character can convey what's happened in a few lines of dialogue? If you really need the information, boil it down. Only keep in what you really need to get the information across. 
Please do share your own methods of tightening your writing here in the comments.      

A very quick update this week, haven't got lots done as I've been taking it easy, relaxing and recovering. Reading and listening to podcasts has been high on my agenda, although I still managed just over three hours of writing this week too. 

Have a good week my friends.               

18 comments:

  1. All good points, thanks. I really notice unnecessary speech tags when I'm reading: there's nothing wrong with 'said'.

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    1. 'said' is my tag of choice for reading and writing.

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  2. Great advice there. I think you've covered everything I can think of - but sometimes if a story feels too top heavy, I get rid of a character. I love the photo!

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    1. Oh you are brave Teresa, I can't recall getting rid of a character. I would have to give them another story.

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  3. Thank you for giving me a way to go through my stories better!! I find editing such a chore, as I don't know where to begin. Hopefully, with your top tips I can approach it in a more methodical way, rather than in the crazy way I often do.

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    1. I know what you mean, I don't find it easy either. I know some folks love editing, but...I find it hard.
      My main issue is either cutting too much, or repeating. I keep telling myself, I'll learn... :-)

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  4. Good tips. Although I'm less likely to need to cut words than add them - I always underwrite, which is so annoying when I'm trying to get my story to novel length.

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    1. I have the same issue Annalisa, I'm thinking I may be more cut out to write novellas.

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  5. Agree with all these points, Maria.

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  6. A good reminder for us all, Maria!

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    1. I need to remind myself regularly.

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  7. All useful points to remember and work through, thanks Maria.

    I find I need my editing head on to do any intensive editing. It helps to be able to look at everything with a fresh eye.

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    1. I used to be able to write, then edit, but nowadays I have to write the story, and edit it afterwards. Not sure if it's a good thing or not?

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  8. Some great suggestions here! I've found that my internal editor has a way of knowing what needs to go, and usually it's a scene or a few sentences that I really LOVE, yet do not push the story forward or offer anything useful to the overall narrative. Then it's time to cut!

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    1. Agreed! But it's hard to make those decisions sometimes, which is when being part of a good critique group helps...

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  9. Great post and tips, Maria. The one that always rattles around my brain when I'm editing is 'Come in late, get out early' with regards scenes. Have you started it in the right place, are you hanging around too long?

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I really appreciate you taking the time to leave me a comment, and I try to reply to every one. Many thanks!