Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Fix Your Story: Let's Strip! Eliminating Two Utterly Unnecessary Words from Your Manuscript

Hello again! As promised, here is the second blog post in the series entitled Fix Your Story. Today we'll focus on paring down unnecessary words from your manuscript. Well, two words in particular. (We'll start small and branch out later.) Ready for the two words you must, must, MUST kill in your writing? They are:




Do this experiment. Pull up your documents folder and pick a work in progress--any ol' tale will do. Now activate your FIND function and type just (or that). How many instances of each do you see? Whatever the number, plan on cutting 90% of them. 

I can hear you now: "But I've already revised this story!" Well, revise it again. Review each and every time one of the aforementioned words appears in your manuscript. Why? They are unnecessary. Utterly, completely, truly superfluous. Clutter. Garbage. 

Before submitting a story to a given market you want it as polished as possible, right? So do everything you can to heighten your chances of acceptance. Remove those justs and thats. Take out the trash, why don't you? No one likes to see refuse, so dispose of it. When you're finished, reread your story and see if it doesn't shine a little brighter.

Look at this example:

Can't we as easily rephrase it to say: "He's not into you" and still come to the same meaning? And see! In one quick stroke, we've scaled back our text by 1/3 of its original content. Now that's the power of revision

Of course, you won't want to pull every instance of these pesky words from your story--there will be cases when such words are the only ones you can use . . . but those cases are rare, my writing friends. Very rare. Use these tiny four-letter words sparingly and your story will read all the tighter . . . and just may be the difference between a rejection and a sale. 


1 comment:

  1. Again, great writing tips. I would consider adding eliminating unnecessary determiners and modifiers. Verbosity should be criminal... :-)